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Nigel Short vs Alexey Shirov
"Sold Short" (game of the day Apr-04-2006)
Madrid (1997), Madrid ESP, rd 8, May-30
King's Gambit: Accepted. Kieseritsky Gambit Kolisch Defense (C39)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-04-06  Marco65: <Cogano> This is the article most people ignore:

Based on a million games, it has statistical evaluation of many material imbalances. Although some calculations are feasible only by computer programs (like the increase / decrease of bishop and knight values when the number of pawn on the board diminuishes) it has many valuable information.

It is the first place where I found a convincing explanation of why exchanging a bishop and a knight for a rook and a pawn (that typically happens on f2/f7) is not such a good deal.

It also established once and forever that knights and bishops are in average of the same value, and that the advantage that some text attributes to bishops over knights is biased by the advantage of the bishop pair (worth half a pawn!)

Apr-04-06  dakgootje: <The17thPawn:<dakgootje> Doen't black lose his queen and a rook for a queen in that line? 32.Nxd3> *Coughs* time im going to get a board again if i post something about some kind of analysis, make too many mistake without it ;-)
Apr-04-06  The17thPawn: <dakgootje> Totally understandable. I make many myself. By the way I still owe you some analysis in that Asrian game and hope to tackle it tonight or tomorrow. Look forward to hearing from you whatever the result. I apologize for the delay but other family obligations have kept me from consulting uncle Fritz.
Apr-04-06  Fulkrum: <Marco65 and Cogano>--Check out "Rethinking the Chess Pieces" by Soltis. GM Soltis goes through an in depth discussion on the value of pieces. So far it's a pretty good read. I'm not finished yet but I read the first two chapters. Soltis states in his book, "The further away from the endgame – where “endgame value” reigns – the more unreliable the (arithmatic) charts are. And that poses a problem for the tournament player."

Dan Heisman reviews the book on Chessville.

Apr-04-06  Granite: Interesting to note that Short has not beaten Shirov according to the database. A rather impressive record of 7 wins, 10 draws and no losses.
Apr-04-06  iamverywellatchess: That is incorrect.
Apr-04-06  PaulLovric: <Fulkrum: <Marco65 and Cogano>--Check out "Rethinking the Chess Pieces" by Soltis. GM Soltis goes through an in depth discussion on the value of pieces. So far it's a pretty good read. I'm not finished yet but I read the first two chapters. Soltis states in his book, "The further away from the endgame – where “endgame value” reigns – the more unreliable the (arithmatic) charts are. And that poses a problem for the tournament player." Dan Heisman reviews the book on Chessville.; yes a very good read

Apr-04-06  ganstaman: I haven't been following all the kibitzing here, but I do have one point to make. Why do we assign values to pieces? The reason, IMHO, is that we do this to help us evaluate a position. Positional factors are somewhat difficult to quantify, while pieces (at least at a basic level) are easier to quantify -- just give them all values and add it up.

So after any series of exchanges, players often add up the remaining material (or more simply just count what was taken off) to see who is ahead. In this game and most games, however, that isn't enough. Things such as pawn structure matter a lot, as does king safety and piece activity. Look at the board at move 24. Ignoring any material inequalities, the position appears to favor black. The white king has few defenders while the black king has those 3 pawns to hide behind. The black rooks and queen are all sitting in front of the white king (imagine what that king must be thinking). Whatever the material adds up to, it appears to me that black is making more of his pieces, and is therefore far ahead.

Interesting articles, by the way. They can definitely help make more accurate evaluations of positions.

Apr-04-06  iamverywellatchess: Chess men have values like persons do. A man who is a bad person might have a value of 1. The guard has a value of 12, but only if the horse has not disowned him!
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <iamverywellatchess>: Huh?? That might be clearer in your first language.
Apr-04-06  Cogano: Hello <Marco65> & I hope all is well. :) Thanks much for the article; I'll read it shortly (I just got online!). :) I agree. Alas, I had to learn about exchanging B & N for a R & P being a bad idea the hard way, through a game I had to resign! As for B & N being more or less equal, I totally agree. When I come across a book that says one is more valuable than the other, I think "Hogwash". Their relative value in general & compared with each other depends much on the posiion at hand, as well as other variables! Thanks again for the article & your explanations. :) Both are gratefully appreciated. Take very good care & have a great day. :) Cheers mate! :)

Hello <Fulkrum> & I hope all is well. :) Thanks much for the book. :) I will certainly look for it. :) Take very good care & have a great day. :) Cheers mate! :)

Hello <ganstaman> & I hope all is well. :) I totally agree. Just for the record, <VargPOD> & I started the piece value discussion when we were debating the game's 19th & 20th moves. I argued that Black was up in terms of the material exchange. Your argument just goes to further support the assertion that Black was better. The difference is that you're more knowledgeable than I am & that you argued more clearly & effectively than I did. & I would add that your argument is more relevant, if only because values are always changing (so a player's time would be better spent evaluating pawn structures..., as you said!)! Thanks much for that. :) Take very good care & have a great day. :) Cheers mate! :)

Apr-04-06  Jim Bartle: "<iamverywellatchess>: Huh?? That might be clearer in your first language."

There are people here who are fluent in verywellian?

Apr-04-06  Cogano: Say, how do horses disown people? I can't quite wrap my mind around this one! & the guard is worth only 12? Regardless whether this is a "chess-guard", to prevent the King from being mated, or a "real-life" guard, to protect a person from being killed or kidnapped etc., that guard & what they do have only a value of 12? Pity! :(

<iamverywellatchess> Our value systems sure are worlds apart!

Apr-05-06  Marco65: <Fulkrum> Thanks for pointing me to that book.

<ganstaman> <Why do we assign values to pieces?> Of course, as you said, to help evaluate the position. But I would strengthen that a little: material is in most cases the most important factor. Just think that one of the main positional advantages (and the easiest to evaluated) like the bishop pair only amount to half a pawn in Kaufman's evaluation, and you realize that normally many factors have to sum up to give compensation for just a pawn.

King safety is an exception, but I wouldn't agree that players' time is well spent in evaluating pawn structures, the least valuable aspect unless you're close to an endgame, and that not only in my opinion.

I got the impression that many people (not talking of anybody specifically) find it fashionable to disregard material when just writing on forums, and then watch their pawns like the chessic equivalent of Uncle Scrooge when playing tournaments.

At least, that's my otb experience! I find less and less gambiteers around, and the few left just play their own beloved gambit backed up by countless hours of home analysis.

Casual games are different. Someone would have to write a book on how the piece value changes when playing blitz, for instance! ANY shadow of piece activity is enought compensation for a pawn in blitz games, because the more activity you have and the more likely it is that your opponent can blunder, while it is very unlikely that the outcome is decided in the endgame. But that's another story

Apr-05-06  ganstaman: <Marco65>Very good points. Material definitely is important. Positional factors can change, while it's more difficult to change material imbalances (usually, at least, I believe). You will rarely go wrong if you just count material and ingore most positional factors (as you say, though, it's kind of tough to ignore king safety, as in the end it's mate that matters).

I guess my point is this: Interesting as the article was, I don't like the idea behind it. It makes counting material too complex, while not actually being complete. I'm having trouble wording this, so maybe I'll try two examples.

Example one, using the article's info.
First note that we're now dealing with fractions (not really difficult, but it's easier to make errors and will take some more time). Secondly, the value of pieces change with the amount of material on the board. So when considering an exchange, you have to look at how the value of what's left changes as well. Things are getting complicated. Additionally, you still have to guess the quantified value of positional factors, such as pawn structure, king safety, piece mobility/activity, threats, etc.

Now for example 2, using what we already knew. We quantify the values of pieces using the 1, 3, 3, 5, 9 system. Every exchange is simple to calculate. We still have to guess the quantified value of positional factors, such as pawn structure, king safety, piece mobility/activity, threats, etc.

I hope I'm being clear. Regardless of what method you chose to calculate material, you should come to the conclusion that black is better in this game. This is because his pieces are doing more against a less safe king (and he's up the exchange). I think that when considering a material imbalance, you shouldn't concern yourself with whose ahead by fractions of a pawn, and instead make a rough estimate (using 1,3,3,5,9) and see if you can make your material do more than your opponent's.

By the way, I used to try to be a gambiteer (it didn't work well for me). Now, I don't give up anything I don't have to, and I accept every gambit and hold onto the pawn for as long as possible. I do care a lot about pawn structure, and don't need encouragement give up the bishop pair to double my opponents pawns.

Apr-05-06  ganstaman: Hmmm, any apparent contradictions between my two posts here can be attributed to my rethinking the situation during the day. Either that or I'm just too tired at 5am.
Apr-05-06  Marco65: <ganstaman> <don't need encouragement give up the bishop pair to double my opponents pawns> This happens with many openings actually, but as Kaufman's article explains it has little to do with pawn structure. It's the fact that at the beginning, with 8 pawns on the board, bishops are less valuable than knights. I wouldn't recommend giving up the bishop pair in an open position just to double opponent's pawns.

Coming to your points, I already said in a previous post that parts of the article are only valuable to chess engines. Knowing that a knight decreases its value by 1/8 pawn for any pawn removed from the board doesn't mean that one should calculate the new value of its pieces that way during the game. But for sure knowing that the value somehow dicreases IS of great importance to any player.

I once saw a player lose an endgame with K+N vs K+3P (the pawns were connected). At the end he was very surprised by the outcome ("what? can't a knight draw against 3 pawns?"). He wouldn't be surprised had he read that article.

Where I disagree with you is of the little relevance you give to the 3 vs 3.25 matter. Using 3.25 as the (average) value of knights and bishops adds very little to the complexity of the evaluation of material imbalances, and avoids the very common beginner mistake of exchanging 2 minor pieces for a rook and a pawn.

If in doing that you're also giving your opponent the advantage of the bishop pair, you've lost a full pawn!

Apr-05-06  Zebra: I am thinking of switching to the Kings Gambit, and am encouraged to see grandmasters occasionally playing it. Can anybody recommend any resources for brushing up on the theory (apart from this site of course...)? I have been trying to get hold of Gallagher's book, but it is out of print.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: "Surprisingly few chess players know that knights and bishops are worth a little more than 3, about 3.25, as finally proven by IM Kaufmann in 1999"

This was an interesting article but I would hardly call it a "proof".

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Neil McDonalds book on the Kings Gambit (Batsford) is good as is Joe Gallaghers Winning With the Kings Gambit
Apr-05-06  Zebra: Thanks for the tip. Gallagher would be ideal if I could get hold of a copy. I may try McDonald, though I notice he gets mixed reviews on Amazon.
Apr-06-06  tlrhardy: could somebody please explain 12. Nxe4? thanks.
Apr-06-06  AjedrezVasco: <tlrhardy> <could somebody please explain 12. Nxe4?>

12...Nxe4 seems to be a good move (and IM Bangiev agrees with me) If white takes the knight (right now or after 13.Nd5 Qe8), black plays ...f5 gaining back the sacrified knight. In that case, black would have changed white's center e pawn for his doubled f pawn. Not a bad change...

Apr-13-06  iamverywellatchess: "Horses are worth 12, but if in a position to check-mate, the horse and guard becomes worth many more." This is a quote! That settles the issue in the hand!

I feel that sometimes I am being replicative on this web-page! I say things that you do not listen well too!

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: This was the third Kings Gambit Short played in this tournament. Earlier he had defeated Akopian and Piket.

I am no expert on the Kings Gambit but 7 Nf2 seems really peculiar. After 7..Nc6 I prefer black already. Shirov was very critical of 13 a3; recommending 13 Ne2.

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