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Domination (chess)

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Title: Domination (chess)  
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Domination (chess)

In chess, and particularly in endgame studies, domination occurs when a piece has a relatively wide choice of destination squares, but nevertheless cannot avoid being captured.

BeliavskyKorchnoi, 2004
a b c d e f g h
8
g8 black king
a7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h6 black pawn
c5 black pawn
c4 white knight
h4 white pawn
a3 white pawn
c3 black bishop
e3 white pawn
g3 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white queen
d1 black queen
g1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h

The example to the right is an example from actual play: the position occurred in the game BeliavskyKorchnoi, György Marx Memorial, 2004. White blundered with 38.Kh2? allowing 38...Qd3 - this dominates the knight: despite having six squares available to it, its capture cannot be avoided. b2, d2, a5 and e5 are guarded by the black bishop, d6 by the black queen, and b6 by the pawn. Additionally, there is no way for the white queen to safely defend it, as every square she could defend it from is guarded by the black queen.

Henri Rinck, La Stratégie, 1920
a b c d e f g h
8
c7 white knight
e4 black rook
f4 black king
f2 white king
b1 white knight
d1 white bishop
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h

Examples in composed endgame studies can be rather more subtle, complex and spectacular than those found in games. The example shown to the left is a study by Henri Rinck first published in La Stratégie in 1920. It is white to play and win. Normally, Black would be able to sacrifice his rook for the white bishop, leaving a drawn position (sacrificing it for a knight would be no good, since it is possible to force mate with bishop and knight), but in this case it turns out that the rook is dominated, and its capture cannot be avoided despite its freedom of movement. The first move of the solution is 1.Nd2, after which all rook moves allow it to be captured or immediately lost to a knight fork (1...Re7 2.Nd5+; 1...Re3 2.Nd5+; 1...Rd4 2.Ne6+; 1...Rb4 2.Nd5+) apart from one: 1...Re5. After 2.Nc4 the situation is similar: only 2...Re4 and 2...Rf5 avoid immediate loss of the rook. Whichever Black plays, White continues with 3.Nd6 when only 3...Re5 avoids immediate loss. 4.Bf3 leaves Black completely helpless: once again, all moves allow capture of the rook or a knight fork except 4...Ra5, when after 5.Ne6+ Ke5 6.Nc4+ the rook is finally won. At all stages the rook had wide freedom of movement, and twice it had the maximum number of fourteen squares available to it, yet it could not be saved; it was dominated.

Further reading

External links

  • Several examples of domination from Kasparyan's book


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