Sparkling sacrifices have for centuries stirred the juices of the combative group of players who have been bitten by the chessbug. Is it not the dream of every player from student, lecturer and teacher, of world-class champions, to introduce to the public this creative art that symbolizes all the elements that make up the human condition? Great men of history have found use of the pen to exalt the joys of its devotees in literature embracing many languages. Ignorance of chess and its value was illustrated in Searching for Bobby Fischer when Josh’s female teacher told the father that “chess was just another game.” For those of us who got bittened, it raised a collective dander. And it bolstered the realization that the good old USA was fast falling behind worldwide chess as a team sport because many students were coached that chess was just another fun game.
Never mind that its elements taught from the 1700s on had much in common that paralleled life and critical thought.
One such element and topic here is the Chess Sacrifice. I do not know all the answers. I have studied what great proponents and not so great proponents have passed on to us by sharing their knowledge both as writers and skilled masters of chess art mostly acquired by examples from actual game study. What makes my own task difficult to convey to readers the art of sacrifice is in the diversity of examples amassed that give weight to the questions this one tactic adds to attack and defence. I get the feeling that I am in a cornfield maze where trying to find a way through the stalks is as baffling for me as for my readership. Some of you have suggested deeper study of what might be called my series of lectures. My notes have been relatively short because the attention span of the human mind seems to diminish interest beyond a passing fancy for many in America who thrive on instant gratification.
The criteria of the Chess Sacrifice comes in a number of forms. The immediate force initiating a sacrifice can be the Knight, Bishop or Rook (Castle). On rare occasions the Queen can also be sacrificed and all these may result in checkmate or gain of space or material. It is sometimes used to break up a pawn position, weakening its structure. The most usual form of sacrifice is the Pawn that often is associated with the term GAMBIT seen commonly as an opening ploy. Another example is the Pawn that commits suicide for the cause of opening lines for attack.
Remember that a chess duel or battle is a two-way street. A sacrifice of material is a major attempt to alter the position; the defender has the task to accept or decline the sacrifice. Such decisions often are based upon acquired skill. It is worth noting that it almost always takes more than one mistake to ruin a plan of attack or defence. The study of master chess games can point to moments that illustrate a number of conditions that represent the sacrifice theme. Lets look at a sampling that gives a nod to understanding the chess sacrifice and inspire you to seek out more.
1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. e3 Be7 5. b3 O-O 6. Bb2 b6 7. d4 cxd4 8. exd4 d5 9. Bd3 Nc6 10. O-O Bb7 11. Rc1 Rc8 12. Re1 Nb4 13. Bc1 Ne4 14. a3 Nxc3 15. Rxc3
Nc6 16. Ne5 Nxe5 17. Rxe5!?
Here is the plan that initiates the start of a sacrificial offer.
17. … Bf6 18. Rh5 g6 19. Rdh3
White offers up the Rook as a sacrifice to weaken the pawn structure around the enemy King. 19. … gxh5 20. Qxh5 Re8 21. a4 so to be able to deploy his Q-Bishop to a3. Qd6 22. c5 later study proved was winning for White.
Not taking the Rook means that White will play Rxh7 and further expose the black monarch to attack. But the question is: Just how serious is the attack? After all, White is boxing himself up on the K-side with limiting the square count value. Once again a King hunt is often best met by action in the centre!!
19. … dxc4!
Black realized that White could not take time out to recapture the pawn by 20. bxc4 Be4!! defends the weakened pawn structure around the King. And now the last hurrah presents the dilemma of choosing the candidate moves of 20. Rh6, Qg4 or Rxh7.
20. Rxh7 c3 21. Qc1 Qxd4 covering g7 and h8.
22. Qh6 Rfd8 23. Bc1 Bg7 24. Qg5 Qf6 25. Qg4 c2 26. Be2 Rd3 27. f4 Rd1+ 28. Bxd1 Qd4+ White resigns.
I hope this example from a game between Keres vs Smyslov gives you incentive to search out on your own for additional examples. Also, this game strategy points to square count offering up a sample.