GW-KW, Point Count Chess Raw Discussion, File #6:
Part of the Advanced Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 2)
Game 1 with KW's Notes added to GW's Opening 6 Moves, Attempting to Understand Control of the Center
[June 3rd 2011]
Up until reading Point Count Chess, I wasn't aware of the term "Control of the Center". Instead, I'd only just become aware of the term "Center Domination", through reading Yasser Seirawan's Winning Chess series of books, hence the sole focus of the following game was about Center Domination, with no mention of Control of the Center.
(GW, June 2nd) Ken, I think Center Domination will be better discussed while working through an, or a series of, openings. At the moment, I feel I'm just going round and round in circles with the book-info; I "kind of get" some of the issues covered by H&M-S and Dan Heisman. Then, when I attempt to turn what I've read into practice - by playing openings against Fritz - ideas clash and progress grinds to a halt.
Ken's Comments ...
(KW, June 3rd) As I write this, I have completed commenting below. I think overall, we need to distinguish between Center Domination (as COA defines it) and Control of the Center (which involves Mobility and Vulnerability, 4 v. 3, 2 v. 1, etc.). The second can have just one or two squares which are key in the center, normally a square in the center on the opponent's side of the board. In this game below, the two key squares that are contested are e4 (for Black) and e5 (for White).
I've started off an Opening sequence (White) v. Fritz:
[Event "Center Domination, Game 1, Opening 5 Moves"]
[White "Wadden, Graham"]
[Black "Fritz 12"]
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 c5 4. O-O e6 5. d3 Nc6 *
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 c5 4. O-O
(GW, June 2nd) I've gone for the Barcza Opening, recommended by Yasser Seirawan (Winning Chess Openings, p201).}
Ken's Comments ...
(KW, June 3rd) This is exactly the place to stop and look at the center before anything else happens. I will try to use the concepts we have learned from H&M-S and Heisman in understanding what's going on.
Black is moving into a typical French style defense with pawns at c5,d5 and will move e6. Black has decided to try to dominate the Center immediately with his pawns, while White by this opening has decided to fight for the center later by chipping away at weaknesses in Black's position, and instead develop his Knight, Bishop and castling.
He has a lean, mean, fighting machine (greater Mobility of the pieces - Mobility of the pieces is more important than Mobility of the pawns, although both are important). Black's stronghold in the center is the d5 pawn, with his hopes of putting a Knight on e4. White's Bg2 bears down on these squares, once the Knight moves. The Knight attacks d4 and e5, and has the potential to move to g5.
My (White's - I'm siding with you, Graham! I am going through my own thought processes, so that you can begin to learn somewhat superior thought processes for yourself) opening is a STRATEGIC opening that counterattacks in the center. One of its benefits is its transpositional possibilities into other major openings, each with their own strategic goals.
Which of these two pawns (c5,d5) is weaker? Think in your mind's eye, what would be ideal here in this position from all you have learned?
Well, to give a (major) clue, how about trying to create an isolated pawn on d5? After all, the c5 and d5 pawns are in a Phalanx formation, and that means they are weaker right now and will need defending, right? And something must be done before Black finds a way to use these pawns as a steamroller against me.
So how would that isolated pawn come about? Well, if I move c4, Black will not want to recapture (although he could) as it will mess up his pawn structure, and he has nothing attacking c4. So my next move would be either d4 (looking at either cxd4 Nxd4 (opening mythe Bishop into play); or if Black does not take, dxc5 (forcing Black to retake with a piece, and then cxd5 exd5 isolating the pawn on d5). This is why so many of the openings start d4 then c4 (or c4 then d4 at some point), with the goal of creating an isolated pawn.
White could try to move into 2 of the more common openings in this position that derive from the Barcza opening, a Kings Indian Attack with the formation that he has (and an eventual e4, d3 formation), or try c4 (attacking the center with a subcenter pawn), and move into an English opening (or Catalan opening) with the target being d5. I think if you want to use this opening, you need to be familiar with the strategic aims of what you can transpose into.
Based on what your opponent plays, you could choose the best strategy that would take advantage of the position, or a line you feel most comfortable with. This would be a good subject of study as well, to understand how each opening has a goal in the center. Once you know the goal of the opening, you can get to the middlegame before your opponent (Fritz) can try to pulverize you (soon it will move to the endgame before he pulverizes you, after you learn your lessons well!).
I would suggest we take one opening (this one, if you like) and learn the major themes and transpositions and how they affect the Center and Weak Square Complexes, before moving on to a bunch of other ones. Botvinnik and other GM's and World Champions all agree to stick to and learn one opening for White, and one or two for Black (for KP or QP openings), and stick with those until you learn them well. If you want to follow Seirawan, we eventually should study the Black side suggestions he makes. But for now, let's keep to the White side.