One of my favorite chess books is Domination in 2,545 Endgame Studies, by Ghenrikh Kasparyan. It is solely about how to dominate your opponent’s pieces. Domination is a way to say that even though a piece has a wide choice of squares, it cannot avoid being captured. As you get the hang of this concept you can use it also in the middle game. Many times you will even be able to just partially dominate a piece in such a way that it has no useful squares even though you cannot win it.
In the 2014 Candidates Tournament in the 1st round former world champion Anand used domination to win his game against the 2nd highest rated player in the world, Levon Aronian. But before we take a look at that game let’s see some basic examples.
In our first example we can see that white’s bishop is dominating the black knight. No matter where the knight goes, it can be taken by the bishop. We say that the knight is dominated. Now all white needs to do is bring something over to take the knight, as it cannot run away.
Knights can dominate as well. In fact, all pieces can dominate. There are countless examples.
As we can see in our 2nd example, the material is dead even. However, many things are in favor for white. White has the better pawn structure, the king is centralized, and, most importantly, the white knight dominates the black bishop. All white needs to do now is bring the king over to take the helpless bishop.
Now let’s take a look at domination in a real Grandmaster game. As you can see, our players have some pretty impressive FIDE ratings. Anand is the former world champion while Aronian is currently the 2nd highest rated player in the world.
White: GM Viswanathan Anand (2770)
Black: GM Levon Aronian (2830)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.OO Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 OO 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d5 10.ed Nd5 11.Nbd2 Qd7 12.Ne5 Ne5 13.Re5 Nf6 14.Re1 Rae8 15.Nf3 Bd6 16.Be3 Re7 17.d4 Rfe8 18.c3 h6 19.Ne5 Be5 20.de Re5 21.Qd7 Nd7 22.Red1 Nf6 23.c4 c6 24.Rac1 R5e7 25.a4 bc 26.Bc4 Nd5 27.Bc5 Re4 28.f3 R4e5 29.Kf2 Bc8 30.Bf1 R5e6 31.Rd3 Nf4 32.Rb3 Rd8 33.Be3 Nd5 34.Bd2 Nf6 35.Ba5 Rde8 36.Rb6 Re5 37.Bc3 Nd5 38.Be5 Nb6 39.Bd4 Na4 40.Rc6 Rd8 41.Rc4