I'm trying to re-learn chess with the wonderful Chesscademy site.

This exercise asks me to "make a move that will leave you up two points in total".

Chesscademy exercise: material part 2 Sometimes it's a bit difficult to say for certain who's up in material. There may be a combination of pieces on the board, and we have to count the points of what's available in order to compare material. For this exercise, make a move that will leave you up two points in total. Be careful not to make a move that will end up in you losing material! Stuck? Here's a hint! Count the number of points on the board - is there a material difference in the starting position?

As the hint suggests, I've counted up the number of points on the board - I make it 38 for white, 37 for black. (I'm playing white).

So, clearly white needs to take 1 point of black's material in order to turn the 1 point lead into a 2 point lead.

Moving c4 x f7 - taking one black pawn - is the correct answer according to Chesscademy. But why isn't my initial answer of f3 x e5 - also taking one black pawn - also correct?

(For what it's worth, both moves could subsequently result in the loss of a 3 point white piece in a real game, so it's not due to a difference here.)

  • 1
    The difference is: immediate guaranteed loss, compared to long-term potential loss. Jan 31, 2015 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


f3 x e5 - Knight takes Pawn - does give you a 1 point advantage on your turn. However black can retaliate with c6 x e5 taking your knight without fear of any retribution which resets the advantage in black's favour. Interestingly note that this move also defends against c4 x f7 which also results in a positional advantage to black.

c4 x f7 - Bishop takes Pawn - gives you a 1 point advantage as well but crucially results in a check. Black cannot retaliate with e8 x f7 since that would result with check from your queen on b3. Interestingly this is also a check; you are forcing black to move his King thus preventing him from developing any defence/offence for this turn.

It is important to consider how the material advantage will change on your opponent's turn as well as your turn when making your move.

As Pieter Geerkens stated the key difference is the guaranteed loss. Theoretically you could lose a 3 point piece from c4 x f7 (i.e. the Bishop), however your loss is not guaranteed in the next turn and any attempts to threaten the Bishop with another piece allows you to respond before the Bishop is taken.

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