Which Recapture?

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Here’s an interesting position. White has just played 21.Rxd8

Take a minute and ask yourself which way you would recapture as Black. 21…Rxd8, or 21…Kxd8 and why.

To me, the instant answer was 21…Rxd8. I didn’t even give it any thought.  Somewhere in the back of my mind some trope about taking the open d file was probably rumbling around.

Yet in the game, Mitrabha recaptured with the King, playing 21…Kxd8. After a moment’s thought I realized that this makes perfect sense since White has a queenside pawn majority and so Black would want his king on that side of the board.

Out of curiosity I checked with the engine. 21…Kxd8 is equal. 21…Rxd8 is +1.2 for White.

There should be no “automatic” recaptures without thinking.

Here is the entire game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott