Position Outweighs Material


The following chess position is illustrative of what often distinguishes a master chess player from a player of average ability. White threatens a kingside pawn expansion if Black sits idly by. Most chess players are familiar with the rule of thumb that a Rook is worth 5 points versus the 3 points assigned to the value of Bishop or Knight. What follows is an exception to these assignment of values.

The following position is an excellent example of positional considerations trumping material disparities. Black plays Rb4 hoping White will recapture with his bishop. The outcome of this “exchange sacrifice” after cxb4 is a protected passed pawn and an excellent outpost  at c5 for the black steed.  Also there are no open files for white’s impotent rooks to control.

Jeremy Silman puts it best when he describes this chess position as one where the strategic potential can easily transcend mere material considerations.

A note about Jeremy Silman:

The following  italicized text was apparently written by Jeremy Silman in the middle of a review he was writing on a book written by Jacob Aagaard about the Queens Indian Defense. Silman definitely gets edgy and does not react too well when criticized. He would do well to magnanimously rise above the petty criticisms of his flawless work. As DeFirmian stated, How to Reassess your Chess by Silman is the most seminal work on the Middle Game in chess since My System by Nimzowitsch.

Many years back Silman went public with ad hominem criticism of a book titled Winning with Reverse Chess Strategy where William Reuter showed many instances of a backwards chess move being effective. Rather than really criticize the substance of Reuter’s work, Silman chose to point out that he had never heard of FM Reuter. Silman even misspells Reuter’s name in his online review! As a veteran author of chess literature, Silman surely would understand this snub, intended or not. In all fairness to Silman, he made some attempt to constructively criticize Reuter’s efforts, but many in the Houston area felt the IM was a little too caustic and abrasive.

Also he advises Aagaard to “reign in his ego” , but gave Aagaard’s book a thumbs up overall. The tension / animosity between Silman and Aagaard appears to be bilateral as described in a post at Quality Chess Blog (ably created and maintained by GM Jacob Aagaard & GM John Shaw) where IM John Watson seems to be caught up in the chess author ego fracas. Below, Silman is upset that a reviewer might have damaged the reputation of a book that Jeremy is justly proud of. We all have our egos to reign in it appears!

I still quake in horror at one reviewer giving thumbs down to THE AMATEUR’S MIND (a book that I’m very proud of) by saying that I should have put the examples in order of rating, not order of theme (a moronic idea, in my opinion).  Apparently, it never occurred to this blithering idiot that I had actually given thought to how my material was presented. But worse, does a reviewer really have the right to crush a book’s reputation because of some personal hiccup? For example, if a book has a blue cover, should the reviewer shred the book because he hates blue?

Hard not to share Silman’s contempt for such a superficial thoughtless review.


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