If there is an imbalance in one factor, it may be compensated by other factors. So, for example, if one side is a pawn down but has better developed pieces and threats of an attack against the enemy king, we may consider the position playable for both sides. Improving your skills at assessing positions will also help with creating the right plan during a game. If you are ahead in material, then usually a good plan is to swap pieces and head for an endgame. If you are behind in material, then it is generally a good idea to keep pieces on the board and try to create threats.
When examining positions that may be playable for both sides, it is a good idea to see which side you would prefer to be. Do you always prefer to be the side with extra material? Do you prefer active pieces? Are you always wanting to attack, or would you prefer a good, solid pawn structure?
This week the Training Squad have been looking at some positions that occur in the Spanish Opening after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6. By looking at positions towards the end of the opening, you can work out which side you'd rather be playing, and then head towards that position. So instead of trying to memorise moves, you are aiming for a position where you have some idea of the plans that you might use, the threats on the board, and the good and bad points in the pawn structure and piece play. Of course then a player would have to work out how to get to that position, and all the traps that can happen along the way. But in learning openings like this, each player is trying to understand, rather than just remember.