Throwing Away a Material Advantage:
Part of the Chess Strategies Guide (Section 1: Strategies)

Chess Strategies Guide,
Section 1: Strategies
Making the Most of a
Material Advantage

[Throwing Away a Material Advantage]

About This Article...

Winning Chess Strategies - TeaserThis article includes my notes, additional images and interactive chess positions from my study of Yasser Seirawan's book, Winning Chess Strategies.

Winning Chess Strategies,
Revised edition
ISBN: 978-1-85744-385-1
Chapter 1. Throwing Away a Material Advantage (p21-27)

Seirawan Strategy Examples:
  • #1: Odds Game Example,
    "Queen Odds"
  • #2: Odds Game Example,
    "Queen-Knight Odds"

Throwing Away a Material Advantage

Avoid launching your Pawns and Pieces into attack after attack, while forgetting to properly develop your army.

Against an experienced opponent, your own lack of development will gift the critical squares to enemy material, while your troops become increasingly restricted, out of position and easy pickings, when your opponent has finished developing and is ready to strike at your inferior position.

The player who manages to complete the development of their army first, will have a lead in development and this can balance out having a Material deficit (when you've lost more troops than enemy captured).

Material Advantage -- having more troops on the board than your opponent -- will turn dominant when neither player holds a lead in development.

"Odds" Game Examples

On pages 22-24 and 24-26 respectively, in Winning Chess Strategies (Revised edition: ISBN: 978-1-85744-385-1), Yasser Seirawan shows two example games where White plays with a deliberate material deficit.

These are known as "Odds" games, with the "Odds" title referring to a specific condition imposed upon the game ... For example, "Queen-Knight Odds" refers to a game whereby one player has his Queenside Knight removed at the start and must play that way.

In the two examples below, White Wins through superior development, in addition to taking full advantage of Black's poor development and thoughtless attacks, which leave the Black King on the end of a deserved kicking. In other words, despite having a material advantage, Black shows how one can throw away a game that, with better odds, he ought to win.

Chess Strategies - SSE - Diagram 3 - Page 22 Odds Game, Example #1
(p22) Diagram 3: Queen Odds.
Potter-Amateur, London, 1870
Diagram 3, left, shows the first of two examples of an "Odds" Game.

In this example (p22), White plays without his Queen.

This would be known as "Queen Odds".
Chess Strategies - SSE - Diagram 4 Odds Game, Example #2
(p24) Diagram 4: Queen-Knight Odds.
Ward-Browne, Nottingham, 1874
Diagram 4, left, shows the second of two examples of an "Odds" Game.

In this example (p24), White plays without his Queenside Knight.

This would be known as "Queen-Knight Odds".
← Back to the Chess Glossary (Odds Game)

Common Mistakes That Can Lose A Game From a Winning Advantage (i.e. a Material Advantage)

The two examples of "Odds" games, shown above, revealed some common mistakes that can be sufficient to lose a game, even from what should be a winning advantage:

  1. Capturing enemy material without out any real need to, and leaving a Pawn vulnerable to being captured in the process (see Odds Game, Example #1, after 5...Nxe4).

  2. Violating the "One Move" principle in the Opening phase (see Odds Game, Example #1, after 6...Nc5).

  3. Not spotting tactical threats, such as enemy material ganging up to target one of your weak positions, such as the f7-Pawn in the region of Black's King (see Odds Game, Example #1, after 7.Bxf4+).

  4. Weakening one's own Pawn structure, especially surrounding the King (see Odds Game, Example #2, after 3...f5).

  5. Failing to properly develop your Pieces (see Odds Game, Example #2, after 5...exf3).

Moving On: Trading Pieces for a Winning Endgame (Page 4).

From this article about Throwing Away a Material Advantage,
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