Sunday, 16 January 2011

Junior Club Week 10: Counting introduction

Last week we discussed our options from a focused attack.  One of which was protect.  Often a piece, pawn, or square becomes the focus for the whole game.  With the attacker trying to get as many units in the attack as he can, while the defender will try and hold the key square, piece or pawn.

As the attacker you have to try and work out if it is safe to take a target piece or pawn.  We use the important tactic of counting for this.  Consider the following example:

It is white to move.  Is it safe to take the target knight on e5?  White counts his attackers 3 (rooks on e1 and e3 and a bishop on f4) and notes black has only two defenders (rooks on e8 and e7) and therefore can capture the knight.  1.Rxe5 Rxe5, 2.Rxe5 Rxe5, 3.Bxe5 and White has won his target.

Things can get a lot more complicated than that and the order of the captures and the value of the defenders needs to be considered.  For example:

Again White to move.  Again he has three pieces attacking a black knight on e5.  Again Black only has two defenders.  Is it safe for White to take the knight?  Absolutely not.  As after 1.Qxe5 fxe5, 2.Rxe5 Rxe5, 3.Rxe5  white has exchanged a rook(5) and queen(9) worth 14 points against black's rook(5), knight(3) and pawn(1) only worth 9 points.  Leaving the following position:-
 Its not just the attackers and defenders you need to count, but the value of each unit if necessary.

It is vital to consider the value of the defenders and the order of the exchanges.  Perhaps the above was too simple as no one would take a knight protected by a pawn, right?
In the following example I have moved the queen to diagonally attack the knight and introduced black's bishop on c7 as his second defender.
White has three attackers black two.  So white may be ok to take the knight if he checks the point count carefully.  As long as he starts the sequence with 1.Rxe5 Bxe5, 2.Rxe5 Rxe5, 3.Qxe5 he gains from the counting sequence. White wins rook(5), knight(3) and bishop(3) total 11 for his two rooks worth 10.
Note that the most valuable piece (White's queen) was last in the sequence this is often the case in counting sequences.

Got it simple isn't it?  Just one last thing then tricks!!
White has two attackers, Black only the one defender.  As the defender and attackers are all rooks, there is no need to count points.  But if white captures the knight it is a huge mistake as after:
1.Rxe5 Rxe5 2.Rxe5 white has removed the defender of d1 and black plays Rd1 with mate.

Be careful when counting there are many ways to go wrong secret pins and other tricks can often crop up and try and imagine the final position, as in this example something nasty may be in store.

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