How to use a local majority of force to create a material advantage

Even when the material on the board may be even, you could still have more pieces attacking a certain part of the board – which gives you a material advantage in that specific area. You can identify a local majority of force by counting the amount of attackers and defenders that have an influence in a certain local area. This is referred to as a local majority of forces.

A local majority of force can have the same effect as having more pieces – meaning you can gain control of a particular part of the board by applying your extra force in that area.

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A chessboard can be divided into 5 “local areas” as indicated by this diagram:

areas on the chessboard
The 5 local areas on the chessboard

When you have a local majority of force you will often find opportunities to make serious threats and win material or achieve some other objectives.

How to use a local majority of force – example

In the example below, black has a 2-point lead in material (he has a rook for white’s knight). However, white has a significant local majority of forces in the black king-side. Study the moves in this example to see how white uses his local majority of forces to gain a significant advantage.

Even though White is down in material, he has a local majority of forces on the king-side.
Even though White is down in material, he has a local majority of forces on the king-side.

 

local majority of forces 2
White plays Qf5! threatening Qxh7#

 

Black blocks the threat but pushing the g-pawn makes a new weakness - the f6-square
Black blocks the threat but pushing the g-pawn makes a new weakness – the f6-square

 

Qf6! White totally overpowered the black defenses on the king-side. The only way to prevent mate is to give up a lot of material after Bd4, Bxd4, Qxd4 Qxd4.
Qf6! White totally overpowered the black defenses on the king-side. The only way to prevent mate is to give up a lot of material after Bd4, Bxd4, Qxd4 Qxd4.

This example illustrated how you can use a local majority of forces to make threats in that part of the board that can possibly force your opponent to make some concessions in order to stop the threats. In this case white won a lot of material since black had to stop the checkmate threats. If you have a local majority of force you will often be able to make strong threats in that part of the board.

Note: White could obtain a local majority of forces since black didn’t develop his pieces properly and neglected the safety of his king. In fact, the rooks on a8 and f8 are not making any contributions at all – they are acting like mere spectators to the action!

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