03 May 2014

Commentary: Women's Grand Prix Khanty-Mansiysk 2014 - Round 5

I chose the following game for study because it illustrates well the sometimes amorphous concept of positional compensation for a pawn.  In contrast with her round 1 game, Hou Yifan is unable to immediately recapture her Queen's Gambit pawn, but is not bothered by this fact.  She goes on to play exactly as required in order to actively press Black, keeping her off-balance and unable to consolidate her position; specifically, Black fails to develop her pieces well enough in order to be able to take advantage of the extra pawn.  Eventually Black stumbles under the pressure and White crushes her with rooks on the 7th rank.

It is worth noting that the Houdini engine had Hou either slightly favored or equal while down the pawn for the entire time (until Hou established a clear winning advantage).  Engine evaluations are sometimes rightly criticized for being too materialistic, but I have not found Houdini to have this flaw.

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