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Latin compensatus, past participle of compensare, frequentative of compendere
- Date: 1646
- transitive verb
- 1 : to be equivalent to : counterbalance
- 2 : to make an appropriate and usually counterbalancing payment to <compensate the victims for their loss>
- 3 a : to provide with means of counteracting variation
- b : to neutralize the effect of (variations)
- intransitive verb
- 1 : to supply an equivalent —used with for
- 2 : to offset an error, defect, or undesired effect <his enthusiasm compensates for his lack of skill>
- 3 : to undergo or engage in psychological or physiological compensation
In chess, compensation refers to various (typically positional) advantages a player has in exchange for a (typically material) disadvantage. The term normally refers to medium to long-term advantages as opposed to short-term advantages. The terms "initiative" and "attack" are generally used to describe a short-term advantage.
Compensation can take many forms:
- Better pawn structure
- The "two bishops", which refers to having bishops of both colors while your opponent does not. Almost all modern players consider having both bishops as an advantage, though historically there has been great debate as to how much of an advantage they constitute. The two bishops are most likely to show their power in the endgame.
- Better piece activity and/or better development (common in gambits)
- Having the enemy king open to future attack, either due to a loss of pawn cover or being trapped in the center of the board is often excellent compensation.
- Passed pawns are often decisive in the endgame
- Connected and/or protected passed pawns are even more deadly.
- Control over key squares, diagonals, files, or ranks