When I was younger, I always saw amazing chess games where the player would give up one of his seemingly best pieces all in order to capture his opponent’s king and win the game. I always thought then that possibly giving up a piece was good and so when I played a chess coach of mine once, I started to give up random pieces. All of a sudden, I was asked, “Why are you giving up your pieces?” The whole point of giving up a piece is for a certain strategic value that actually places you in a position to win or to come away with more pieces of your opponent’s then he does. From a recent game, I was black, my opponent was white. You can see that my rook at h8 is clearly in danger by the bishop. This was my move. I could have traded rooks with my opponent. I did not. I moved my pawn to c4.
So a possible continuation at that point if my opponent now takes my rook is the following:
At this point, my opponent would now have three options…take the pawn or move his king to d1 or c1.
If he moves his king to d1, then the queen side bishop moves to a4. Forcing the king to c1 for a checkmate. If he moves to c1, the next move for black is bishop to a4, all of white’s pieces are out of the game, the next move for black is checkmate. If he takes the pawn, the next move for white is king side rook to c8. Again, king is forced to migrate left. If he chooses b3, black’s queen moves to c2, king must move to b4, black moves queen side rook to b8, mate in one move. If he chooses b2, black’s queen goes to c2, king must move to a3, black moves his queen to a4, check, king is forced to move back, queen goes to b4, checkmate.
But now you see. The only reason to ever throw away a piece is if throwing away your piece will take your opponent’s attention away from where the real action is taking place or if the sacrifice serves to get your opponent into deep trouble or if the trade evens the odds for yourself a bit more. Some pieces are literally disposable. When I was learning chess, they taught me a point-value system for certain pieces–queen is 5, rook is 4, bishop is 3 as well as the knight, pawns are 1, king is the game. My older sister learned a different point value system. In all honesty, it makes no difference. Maybe you heard the saying, “knights on the rim are grim”. Believe that saying and apply it to rooks in the corner hiding behind bishops and pawns as well as other potentially active pieces. If a piece is not even in the place where the real action is taking place, it might as well be temporarily captured.