Domination (chess)

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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.

Missing image
Beliavsky-Korchnoi_Marx_2004_Kh2.png


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

Missing image
Rinck_Stratégie_1920_Nd2.png


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.

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