After a few articles about What is a threat in Chess and how to protect pieces to handle threats efficiently, it is time to talk about Exchange. In a normal chess games, most of the captures are in fact exchanges.
So what is an exchange ? An exchange occurs when one side captures a piece that is protected, and when on the next move, the other side recaptures the piece.
In most exchanges, the material balance remains even, meaning that the points captured by one player are exactly worth the points won by the other player. The value of each piece in Chess is explained in a separate article.
These example show the most common exchanges.
Not all exchanges involve the same pieces on both sides. Some “non-symmetrical” exchanges can also happen. For instance, as a Knight and a Bishop are worth 3 points each, it is natural to exchange a Bishop against a Knight.
Another common example of exchange of this chapter is a non-symmetrical, though common, exchange. it is done by exchanging a Rook, against a Knight or a Bishop + 1 or 2 pawns.
Indeed, a Rook is in fact worth “a little less than 5”, and a Knight or a Bishop are worth “a little more than 3”, so the difference between a light piece and a Rook can be worth 1 or 2 pawns, depending on the context.
That difference is called “the exchange” and can be found in the locutions “sacrificing the exchange” or “winning the exchange”.
Many unusual exchanges can be imagined. One other exchange that can occur is the Queen VS two Rooks exchange.
Before going into basic mating patterns like King + Queen versus lone King, I would like to come back on a topic that is often misunderstood by beginners in Chess: what is the difference between Checkmate and Stalemate ?