Exchanging Key Defenders (1)

One of the most common and important positional motivations for exchanging pieces is to remove a key defensive unit.

In the following diagram, White clearly has a huge advantage, but he still has to find a way to break through. Polugayevsky realises that the key defensive piece holding Black’s position together is the Ne6, which is the only piece able to defend the weak dark squares on the black kingside. Polu therefore plays to exchange it off, after which he is quickly able to take aim at the enemy king and force a decisive sacrificial breakthrough.

Steve Giddins