Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Evaluation of Material Imbalances: Part One

I've been really interested lately with the relative value of pieces and pawns given the position and how to know when their values fluctuate. With this in mind I was quite interested to read about IM Larry Kaufman's research here http://home.comcast.net/~danheisman/Articles/evaluation_of_material_imbalance.htm

Briefly to give you an idea what interested me was the sheer magnitude of the research as well as using the computer to provide relative precision in the evaluation of chess positions.

The research shows that the rook pawn for example (that red-header step-child of foot soldiers) is worth roughly 15% less then his fellows. Making it typically advantageous to "promote him" to a knight-pawn whenever the chance to capture may occur. Other than this minor difference the pawns tend to hold the same value from their starting squares.

The value of the Bishop pair is refined to be in almost all cases worth an extra half pawn. The reasoning isn't completely certain but it seems that the bishop pair is superior to the knight-pair as well as a bishop and knight possibly for their lack of redundancy. Often times the inferior pairings will control the same squares limiting their overall effect on the board in most cases. the bishop pair never cross each other's path therefore maximizing their board presence.

Furthermore his research suggests that if you have the bishop pair and your opponent's one bishop is a "bad bishop" you have a FULL pawn compensation. To me this is quite important information and very revealing!

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