We’re not talking about a chess set swap shop here – though that would be kind of cool, but rather the exchange of pieces of equal value for each other. Obviously the ideal in chess is to take your opponents pieces for free, but in most cases your opponent is likely to be quite stingy with the goodies he’s willing to donate to your cause.
That means you’ll need to consider when and how to trade off pieces to gain an advantage. Here are some pointers:
If you have an advantage in material
It’s another obvious point but you should be prepared to start trading out once you’ve got a lead on your opponent. This should translate into an advantage in the end game. But don’t get carried away – too much like for like trading can leave you as badly damaged as your opponent, particularly if you’re trading pawns.
To eliminate a key defender
If your opponent has a bishop, knight or rook that seems to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting protecting territory or other pieces, it’s a good idea to swap it out as soon as you can. Remember that in general knights are considered to be stronger early in the game and bishops later.
When your piece isn’t part of your plan
It cuts down on board clutter and enables you to focus more on the strategy in hand. It really doesn’t hurt to eliminate pieces you don’t have any real use for anyway.
To kill an isolated pawn
Trading out to gain a small material advantage doesn’t always make sense but an isolated pawn offers real opportunities to open up new flanks of attack if you can capture it. Exchanging material for position makes real sense.
When you’re short of time
Cut down on complexity and you’ll cut down on precious seconds of thinking time. If your clock is running low you can do a great job for yourself by eliminating excess pieces on the board.