Simplification in chess can be a decisive strategy, and one that is much deeper than generally understood. Here are a few examples which illustrate when you can employ this strategy:

1) Simplification to dissolve an attack (Example by Fred Reinfeld)

Here Black has material advantage but his rook on d8 is attacked. If it moves the bishop on d7 will fall. So how would you continue from here?

The solution is as follows:

1…Qxd1!! 2. Qxd1 Bg4!

Black can keep his material advantage and White’s attack is just gone.

2) Simplification for piece activity (Vassily Smyslov vs Milan Vidmar in 1946)

Here Smyslov went for simplification in order to bring his rook on the 7th rank and went on win after a few more moves.

1.Qxg7 Kxg7 2.Bf4 h6 3.Nd2! g5 4.Bxd6 cxd6 5.Nc4 d5 6.Nd6 Rxe1+ 7.Rxe1 Kf6
8.Nxf5 Kxf5 9.Re7!

White’s rook is much more active than its counterpart and he went on to win.

3) Simplification to hinder the opponent’s development ( Wilhelm Steinitz vs Bardeleben in 1895)

Here Steinitz went for 3 minor piece exchanges and caught the Black king in the center. This temporarily prevented Black from connecting his rooks and when he did manage to connect them it was too late. For the solution just go through the game.

4) Simplification to reach a winning king and pawn endgame (Kasparov vs Milan Vukic in 1980)

Here Black’s last move was Nf6, yet this innocent looking move is a decisive mistake. Can you simplify the position to reach winning king and pawn endgame?


1.Bxf6 gxf6 2.Rd1

Black resigned in view of 2…Rxd1 3.Kxd1 followed by g4-g5 clears the way for the h5 pawn to march forward.

Ashvin Chauhan