Exchange Or Not To Exchange

I have already dealt with the subject in relation to the relative value of pieces, but now we should look at it in different contexts. Quite frequently I am facing the questions below:

What should I do now, attack or defend?

Should I capture or not, as if I capture he will recapture?

With which piece should I capture, bishop or knight etc..

I see this as a signal to make them aware about open files or diagonals, outposts and active pieces. Again while teaching kids you should not try to explain using heavy examples or heavy words. And I also have some general rules which seem quite effective:

– If the exchange brings one of your opponent’s pieces into action, avoid it.
Here’s an example:

You should not exchange your bishop for the knight because it brings black queen into action, which is doing nothing right now. Secondly the bishop is creating a problem for Black as he has to do something in order to release the pin.

– If an exchange makes your opponent replace an active piece with a pawn, normally you should do it.
For example,

Here Black’s knight is powerful in the centre and d5 is outpost for Black’s pieces. So if replace that piece with a pawn, you will no longer have to worrying about the d4 pawn. So here Nxd5 is good move and you should go for exchange.

– If any exchange opens lines, but you don’t have piece for that diagonal or file, don’t do it.

For example:

As you can see Black has a nice outpost c4 and you are have a chance to get a Black pawn there instead. But in this case it also opens up the diagonal for the bishop on b7 and you have no piece to counter it. So if possible you should avoid that exchange.

– Think twice before exchanging long range piece against short range ones, simply because of their mobility.

– When you are in attack, don’t exchange too much.

None of the above rules count as rules of thumb, but they have significant value when you are introducing these concepts to kids.

Ashvin Chauhan