GW-KW, Point Count Chess Raw Discussion, File #9:
Part of the Advanced Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 2)

Game 4, GW-KW v. Fritz 12 (Level 50),
for Control of the Center
[July 7th - September 19th 2011]

Ref: Game 4, Graham Wadden & Ken Wilsdon v. Fritz 12 (Depth Level 50, Optimized Strength)
White's Opening: Barcza Opening
Date: 7th July 2011

GW: The previous game, which saw us use the Barcza Opening, was set at Depth Level 5. I'm interested to see how we'd fare against Fritz 12, set at its maximum levels: Depth @ Level 50 and selecting "Optimize Strength".

July 7 -KW: Boy, GW likes to give us a real challenge! At that level and strength, even strong Grandmasters have a challenging game (from what I can find, Fritz 12 is rated at 2900+ at maximum level! Gulp!!). It will give us a good fight, and we will learn more about Center Control (hopefully by White, but also if by Black it will be very instructive).


1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b5 3. Bg2 Bb7 4. O-O e6
GW: (Proposed Move: 5. b3)

With square d5 already 3x defended (Black's Bb7, Nf6 and e6-pawn), I anticipate 5. ... d5, regardless of our 5th move, and possibly gearing up for a 3-pawn Phalanx on the 5th Rank, with 6. ... c5. That'd be quite a formidable line-up, with further potential for an Advanced Salient with Black playing c5-c4, at some stage.

With all that in mind, my attention focuses on e4. Black already attacks this square 2x. If 5. ... d5, Black would have a strong support point for moving the KN to e4 (such a position caused us quite a bit of trouble, in Game 3, I recall). Moves considered ...

  • 5. d4
    This was the first move that sprang to mind, at the prospect of 5. ... d5, but before considering the threat to e4. With our Nf3 already guarding the d4 square, our d-pawn would be moving to a square where it'd be 2x defended (Qd1 would come into play in the same pawn advance). In addition, we'd also be releasing our dark-Bishop, for a potential move to g5 - perhaps the Relative Pin on Nf6 will still be available, which would effectively remove one of Black's units, attacking both e5 & d4, respectively.

  • 5. d3
    Because of the possible threat of Black's Nf6 moving to e4, with d5-pawn as the strong support point, my alternative plan is to temporarily postpone getting a pawn into the Center (5. d4) and, instead, create a support point with 5. d3 and then, maybe 6. e4., since 6. ... dxe4 7. dxe4 Qxd1 8. Rd1 would see both Queens removed from the board and our KR left on the Open d-file. Would Black really allow that to happen?

    Another outcome might be 5. ... d5 6. e4 dxe4 7. dxe4 Bxe4 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8, leaving Black having to Manually Castle the King (costing a few moves in the process).

    5. ... d5 6. e4 d4 won't happen, as that leaves Black's d-Pawn En Prise to our Nf3, with our Bg2 able to protect our e4-pawn.

  • 5. b3
    Instead, we could leave the Center under-contested for at least one more move and continue Flank development ...

    Our b-pawn would move (b2-b3), firstly, to contest a4 and c4 with Black's own b-pawn; secondly, to enable our QB to fianchetto onto b2, from where it would threaten Black's Nf6, while also working with our Nf3 in guarding both d4 & e5 twice, respectively.

    By playing 5. d3 or 5. d4, it seems we're breaking away early from the Hypermodern theory of Flank development, to put direct pressure on the Center, rather than immediately striving to occupy the Center, which was the Classicist's theory. I am aware of Hypermoderns taking things too far with Flank development, to the detriment of their games (Larry Evans, New Ideas In Chess, page 14-15). But, I don't think we're quite at that stage just yet; we could probably go another move or two allowing Black play in the Center, while we build pressure on the Center from the outside ... then we decide how we're going to develop, to gain Control of the Center.

    So, I'm looking at 5. b3, 6. Bb2, regardless of Black's 5th move.

July 7 -KW: While GW's analysis is good, I would like to look at things a little differently as we begin this game. We have had our head down making our first 4 automatic moves, and now it is time to look up and see where we are. First, let's look at our current position as it relates to Control of the Center at the start of the game so we can compare later and see changes (Diagram 4-1a):

Diagram 4-1a.
After 4. O-O e6
Key squares controlled by each side.

  • The Blue center squares are controlled by Black. c4 is controlled by the b5 pawn; d5 is controlled by Bb7, e6, Nf6; e4 is controlled by Bb7, Nf6.
  • The Green center squares are controlled by White. Nf3 controls d4 and e5.
  • The Yellow arrows are Black's moves that either affect the Center, or our next move.
  • The RED arrows are moves of the White Knight.

Right now, neither side has an advantage in the Center (each side controls 2 squares), but Black has a better grip on the squares he controls. Black would love to get a Knight to c4 (probably Nb8-d7-b6-c4). The Barcza, as I said in the last game, is a hypermodern opening, meaning it seeks to control the Center later in the game, and influence it now from a distance. From the Barcza, there are 5 main ways to continue, each involving a pawn move in the next couple of moves:

  • d4, a Queen's Pawn opening, similar to our last game against Fritz;
  • c4, the Reti Opening, usually starting 1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 or 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. b4 or 1. Nf3 f5 (a Dutch defense);
  • b3, the Nimzo-Larsen Attack, recommended by GW.
  • a4, attacking the b5 Pawn, similar to recommendation by Crafty after last game.
  • e4, a King's Indian Attack, from our current position, we would add d3, Nbd2, with a possible Re1 before or after e4.

How To Develop A Plan

The following is how to take the current position, and develop a plan. Each choice is a pattern of moves (or system) that can be applied where they fit best. Let's look at each of these choices in order, as they would be developed:

Diagram 4-2a
5. d4, QP Game.
White is attacking the same dark squares.
This is a weak reply.

Diagram 4-2b
5. c4, Reti Opening.
This Pawn is subject to immediate capture.
It will be hard to retake.

Diagram 4-2c
5. b3 and 6. Bb2, Nimzo-Larsen Attack.
b3 attacks c4, QB is on good diagonal
But basically same squares as before.

1. d4, a Queen's Pawn Opening.

The move would be a possibility, but we are already occupying one square (d4) and attack another square (e5) that we are already attacking with Nf3. See Diagram 4-2a.

White is occupying d4 and attacking c5 and e5. Remember, when we occupy, we do not control. So only c5 and e5 are influenced by this move. This is not a strong way to Control the Center. The advantage it has is that it does occupy and attack dark squares, on which currently Black is slightly weaker (look at the Pawns, and the KB that is not directly influencing the Center). This is not our best move.

2. c4, The Reti Opening.

The Reti Opening is a good choice whenever Black moves to d5. In Diagram 4-2b, it is obvious that the c4 pawn could be taken immediately. Our c pawn is probably worth twice as much as Black's b pawn, and if he takes, he will have 2 c pawns to 0. He will have much better Control of the Center. But how would White retake? Normally, White could retake with the Queen by checking on a4 (Green squares) because the d pawn would have moved from d7. But here it hasn't, and after bxc4 6. Qa4 (White's 1st move with the Queen) Black would play Nc6 (developing with tempo) 7. Qxc4(2nd move) d5 (developing with another gain in tempo) and no retake would be possible. Black has developed better than White, and White's Queen will have to move a 3rd time. Same thing happens if White moves Qc2 (6. Qc2 d4) protecting the Pawn. Now Qa4+ (2nd move)Nc6 and Black makes developing moves while White is losing tempo with no real plan. Black could continue with Bc5 (and Black is prepared to castle), and if attacked, Bb6 serving as a long range Pawn covering b7 and attacking White's Kingside with a Bishop battery, and having excellent Piece control of the Center, after castling. The other option would be with Nb1, which could move to c3, or in this case, to a3 attacking c4. But the same problem happens as with the Queen. d5 solves Black's problems, and is up a Pawn, and would return it when favorable (such as when White tries d3 or d4). I think we would have an uphill battle if we wanted to fianchetto our QB, and the move c4 now seems dangerous. Maybe I am missing something, but I can't recommend it here.

See the Repertoire Suggestions below for more on the Reti.

3. b3 and Bb2, The Nimzo-Larsen Opening.

The two greatest proponents of this system are A. Nimzovitch (My System fame) and Bent Larsen, both of whom played this way many times. The main idea which is obvious is to get a Bishop on the long diagonal of a1-h8. When combined with the Barcza Opening, it can be a powerful force to criss-cross the Center and gain control. Look at Diagram 4-2c.

The QB is on a good diagonal, and both Bishops will strike the Center (as GREEN squares show), but currently Black's QB is controlling the a8-h1 diagonal (YELLOW arrow). The King's Knight on f3 will still be pinned. White is attacking a few more squares, but is it enough? We'll keep this in the back of our minds as we look at others.

Diagram 4-2d
5. a4 b4 6. d4 Nc6 7. Bg5
White may have a good game.

Diagram 4-2e
5. a4 b4 6. d4 c5 7. Bg5
Black has a stronger hold on the Center.

4. a4, attacking the b5 Pawn.

You may remember in the Post Mortem for the last game, "Crafty shows 5. a4 b4 6. d4 Nb8-d7 7. Bg5 as being a better line for White." Let's see if something like that could work here. See Diagram 4-2d.

The b4 Pawn is still a problem, but Nb1 could move to Nbd2 easily, now that the QB has left. I have placed the Black Knight on c6, as d7 in Crafty's suggestion would not work here. This is a better position as we have some Queenside space (thanks to a4), we have freed our QB and it is attacking the KN, which protects d5 and e4. We would not be able to take advantage of it immediately, but it is there, nevertheless. If Black were to make these moves, we could have a decent game. But could Black make a stronger move here?

Suppose the moves went 5. a4 b4 6. d4 c5! 7. Bg5 (Diagram 4-2e)?

This is the kind of move we could expect. Black would seek to challenge more squares in the Center, and start to activate his KB and his Queen. He also would not be blocking his c Pawn, and the Knight on c6 was blocking his QB. d5 does not block that, and in fact attacks a different square, while defending b4. A simple follow-up here would be 7...d5 with a strong Center. We would be OK in this kind of position, but is there anything that can challenge the Center more directly?

Diagram 4-2f
King's Indian Attack Formation.
1. Nf3 2. g3 3. Bg2 4. O-O 5. d3 6. Nbd2 7. e4.
White can get this formation nearly all the time.

Diagram 4-2g
KIA in Current Position.
Better Control in the Center
AND permits b3, Bb2 later.

Diagram 4-2h
KIA After 5...d4 6...c4 7. e4
Better Control in the Center

5. The King's Indian Attack.

If you like the Barcza because you can make the first 4 moves as White regardless of what Black plays, then you will like the King's Indian Attack (KIA)! You can extend the moves from 4 to 7 that can be played almost regardless of what Black plays. Diagram 4-2f shows the KIA basic position after the Barcza way of moving 1. Nf3 2. g3 3. Bg2 4. O-O 5. d3 6. Nbd2 7. e4.

The GREEN squares are the squares White influences directly. Notice that they include all four Center Squares. This opening develops slowly and methodically, seeking as its first goal this position. Once here, the Pawns and Pieces exert tremendous force in the Center. e4 becomes a strong point in White's game. While there are ways to attack this opening if your opponent knows you are playing this all the time, it has never been refuted. In fact, many Grandmasters and even World Champions like Bobby Fischer have played this opening as White in championship games.

Starting at the left of the diagram looking at possible moves after this position is formed(YELLOW arrows), b3 and Bb2 are still good possibilities. Bc1 can also move along the c1-h6 diagonal as needed (eg., Bg5 or Bf4). Qd1 often travels along the d1-h5 diagonal, or can be used to support the pawn push e5 (best when Black has moved e7-e6, as here; Black's KN loses one of its good travel spots on e4 as it is so well protected). Rf1 can move to e1 to support the Pawn push, or if the file becomes open, travel along it. It sometimes also winds up on d1 if the Queen has moved. This is a dynamic Rook. If the Bishop on g2 moves or is captured and the King moves to g2, it can travel to h1 and can be a powerful influence in a Kingside attack against h7. The Bg2 starts here, but often can either defend the a8-h1 diagonal, or move to a different diagonal if opportunity presents itself.

Let's do what we have done in previous diagrams and place our intended opening over our present position (Diagram 4-2g).

We can see that this system of development is easily the best we have encountered to fit with our present situation. The KIA is probably most effective when Black has played e7-e6 instead of e7-e5 (as here). We Control or share Control of all major squares, especially in the Center. But what would Black move in the intervening moves 5 and 6? One strong possibility is shown in Diagram 4-2h, moving d5 and c5 or vice versa (similar to the previous game). As you can see when you look at Control of each of the 4 Center squares, White is holding his own. His position holds a lot of dynamic energy waiting to be released at the right time. White will attack on the Kingside and in the Center. Black will want to attack on the Queenside and Center. We have forces centralized, that can easily meet threats almost anywhere on the board in just a move or two. I think this is our best shot at gaining a decent position. So I recommend we move 5. d3.

At a future time, after GW absorbs these observations, I will give a Repertoire Suggestion on the King's Indian Attack.

Reti Repertoire Suggestion

if we weren't doing the pure Barcza for each of the first 4 moves, I would suggest the Reti on Black playing 1...d5 as follows 1 Nf3 d5 2. c4. I've pulled together the main variations after I have input them into Chess Position Trainer, a great FREE tool to learn a new repertoire, and makes it a cinch to input variations and create pgn files. As you'll note in what follows, the Barcza position is obtained in most lines, but an early c4 or b4 helps in Center Control. These lines will help any Barcza player to understand the possibilities in the opening. Take your time over a few weeks if you like, to go through these variations, to get a feel. Let's review the main lines of the Reti (to highlight and walk through a variation, click on the variation listed between the board and the moves, and then click the play button under the board to move through the variation. Subvariations are in between the colored moves. Click on them to have the board display them.):

The PGN code for the Reti Trap is here: [+]Show

Resources for the Reti
Click the links to see the Amazon reviews.
(Provided here for your convenience).

I also want to pull out one particular line that develops when Black plays simple developing lines, known as the Reti Trap:

(GW) In the original discussion, Ken embedded a YouTube video and supplied the PGN. Alas, the video no longer appears to exist on YouTube (I certainly couldn't find it), so I had to settle for the ChessFlash player, instead.

Bibliography for the Reti Opening:

Selected Move: 5. d3

5. d3 d5
GW: (Proposed Move: 6. Nbd2)
Reasoning: Given what KW said about playing the King's Indian Attack (KIA), I first played out the seven White moves to get into the KIA position, ten times in a row, in Fritz 12 (Depth Level 50, 'Optimize Strength' selected) and none of White's army were captured, on any attempt.

July 11 -KW: That's great to know! Thanks for doing that. It gives me greater confidence as well.

I can now confidently get into the KIA position on 'auto-pilot' Here are the moves for White, regardless of Black's first seven moves:

1. Nf3, 2. g3, 3. Bg2, 4. 0-0, 5. d3, 6. Nbd2, 7. e4.

... unfortunately, at this point I'm on my own, having to think for myself again ... and my brain grinds to a halt, wondering what to do next: Capture now? Keep developing now? Which unit to develop (Pawn or Piece) and to where?

Despite all of KW's excellent information (not just in this game, so far, but in previous games), I'm finding it tough-going to visualize ahead and to think of patterns for developing my army ... Perhaps it's just experience; keep playing set Opening systems long enough and one time it'll all suddenly "click" and I'll start seeing the more-effective maneuvers to make, and at the correct time in the game. Well, that's what I'm hoping.

Just to recap on how I managed to memorize the specific Opening System, played by White, known as the King's Indian Attack (KIA):
  1. Learn the first four moves of the Barcza Opening:
    1. Nf3, 2. g3, 3. Bg2, 4. 0-0;

  2. Develop the remaining three troops:
    5. d3, 6. Nbd2, 7. e4
So, my proposal is 6. Nbd2.

July 11 -KW: The King's Indian Attack (KIA) works well with the Barcza system. Don't worry right now about visualizing ahead and thinking about patterns for developing our army. The ultimate aim of the various Repetoire Suggestions I am and will be proposing is to help you become familiar with the various patterns and strategies that can develop out of the Barcza system, but first I need to show related systems from the beginning in their pure move order, and at the end, we can make a Composite Complete Repertoire Suggestion that ONLY starts from the Barcza system (up through 4. O-O), to help everyone understand the most likely patterns White and Black may employ. Then anyone can branch out into the lines that they feel most comfortable with (Reti, etc.), and develop new lines (or follow the separate Repertoire Suggestions) as they have time. Doing it this way will give a unified feeling for the position starting out with the King's fianchetto. With the King's Indian Attack Repertoire Suggestion, I am not quite done with it, so I will have it ready soon.

One of the nice things about this move order (6. Nbd2) is that it doesn't commit us to the KIA. In certain (limited) Black formations, it may be better to run with 7. c4, converting into a Reti Opening and attack from the flank. This is the flexibility of this formation(See the Repertoire Suggestion on the Reti for more information how to proceed).

In some situations e5 can be played immediately before Nbd2. This is not one of them (See the Repertoire Suggestions for the King's Indian Attack for when it can be played to White's advantage). Anytime Black plays d5 (or f5) in the first 7 moves, we want to play 5. d3 6. Nbd2, because if we play 6. e4, we exchange Queens with 6. e4 dxe4 7. dxe4 Qxd1 8. Rxd1 (While we now control the D file with our Rook, we may want to keep our Queen in many situations for a Kingside attack). But if we play 5.d3 6. Nbd2 d4 7. e4 dxe4 8. dxe4, our Knight on d2 protects our Queen, and she can easily move to e2 next move, with the Rf1-e1 next move if we want.

I obviously agree. Nbd2 it is.

By the way, I have added another link under the Reti Repertoire Suggestion above to an eznet site I found on a Google search

Selected Move: 6. Nbd2

6. Nbd2 Be7
GW: (Proposed Move: 7. e4)
Reasoning: Simply because it completes the sequence, forming the position known as the King's Indian Attack (KIA), as discussed above.

With the current position, our e-pawn will be moving within striking range of Black's d-pawn, with Black to move. This could lead to an Exchange of pawns, via 7. ... dxe4 8. dxe4, leaving us with a pawn on e4, protected by Nd2, thus safe from Black's Nf6.

Black might seek to bring the QN down to c4, via Nbd7-b6-c4, rather than playing an immediate 8. ... Nc6, which would block the fianchettoed QB's view of the Center squares (d5,e4). So, let's see (I'm making the moves manually, in Fritz 12 - Engine OFF):

7. e4 dxe4 8. dxe4 Nbd7 ...

We could, then, push the e-pawn:

9. e5 ... Actually, no I don't think we should, as 9. ... Ne4 leaves Black's KN in a strong position on e4, with protection from Black's Bb7, and 10. Nxe4 Bxe4 doesn't seem good for us.

If instead:

9. Re1 and, in fact, I'm not sure Black's QN to c4, now via b6-c4, would be viable, certainly not in successive moves, as 9. ... Nb6 10. b3 sees our b-pawn shut Black's Knight out of c4, for the time-being. However, Black's Knight would still be stronger on b6, being able to contest and help Control, d5, in the Center, while also strengthening Black's interests at a4 and c4, respectively.

Putting it all together, one line could be:

7. e4 dxe4 8. dxe4 Nbd7 9. Re1 Nb6 10. b3 ... and then I feel I'm getting beyond the current scope of my chess-brain (such as it is; I have to note that it took me about 20 minutes to think through that, and that's with the help of manually moving the pieces in Fritz, rather than the ideal of playing it through in my mind).

If nobody's refuted the KIA - and, especially if a player as esteemed as the legendary Bobby Fischer have used it in championship matches - I see little reason to look at any other move than 7. e4, completing the KIA sequence, come what may.

July 12 -KW: While it has not been refuted, as I mentioned up above, sometimes it is better to move Rfe1. This is one of those times. We want to create a "strong point" on e4. But here, Black guards e4 3 times, and we guard it 2 times after e4. If we move e4 now, the order of moves will probably be, as GW notes, 7. e4 dxe4 8. dxe4 Nxe4 9. Nxe4 Bxe4. Counting up the exchanges, we would be a Pawn down (as COA Point Count indicates when you insert the moves). Such a deficiency would be fatal with Fritz probably at any level, but certainly would be at the highest level optimum strength.

So I recommend 7. Re1 so that 7. Re1 (Black any move) 8. e4 dxc4 9. dxc4 Nxd4 10. Nxe4 Bxe4 11. Rxe4. Now we come out even. So e4 is taken care of. That just leave us to look at our two other "challenges". One of the general rules of when to attack is when you have two different advantages. Here, at the moment, Black has an advantage on e5, but as I have said, we have the ability to take of it. Another challenge is on the d file. If we go through the line in this paragraph up to 11. Rxe4, the d file will be open, and the logical follow up will be 11...Qxd1+, because the Rook is on e4. That would lead to the rook being "embarrased", as if it moves back to e1, it will be taken, leaving the defense of the White King to the Bg2-f1. That leaves us with the last challenge, that if we have to move Bg2-f1, the Nf3 will be left defenseless part way through the exchange (at 10. Nxe4), and if Black can switch the move order just enough, Fritz could capture the Nf3 with the Bishop currently on b6. If we are not careful, Black would win a Pawn and a Knight, as a Rook on e1 would need to capture on d1.

So does that mean Fritz has set up a "refutation" for the KIA, and we happened to have fallen into it? No, I don't think so. But Fritz has anticipated by our use of the Barcza that we might go into a KIA (the advantage of a perfect book knowledge of current theory). That is why the Black QB has been on an open diagonal attacking e4 (through move 5), which is not normal in a KIA. That is also why Black moved b5, as that would hinder our ability to go into the Reti at this point with c5 (like I said last time, this is another major option for us playing the Barcza). Black plans on opening the Center once we play e4. So we should play positionally. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Fritz's next move were O-O, as that could support an attack through the d file to our King.

So how do we proceed? Well, we have a couple of advantages. First, Black will need to come to us on the Queenside, moving into our territory to attack us. That will probably require c5. Second, we have control of when we play e5. Black has been preparing for this for the last 6 moves, so if we take 2-3 more moves to prepare to take care of these challenges, and then play e4, that will be OK. Remember, "play the board, not the system". By that I mean, be flexible enough to prepare a move properly, taking into account your opponent's threats. See what's going on.

Here, I believe we can do that by 7. Re1 8. b3 9. Bb2 then 10. e4. We move Rfe1 to support e4, and we fianchetto the QB to support d1, and by extension, e1, for the Ra1 will now help protect both squares. By protecting these squares, the Bg2 will not need to move from its post. By moving the Rook first instead of b3, we may see Black castle (one of the reasons for Black's last move). If Black castles, then b3 and Bb2 become even more powerful as the Pieces and center Pawns are removed, as that Bishop will bear down on g7, and at the same time provide greater Control of d4 and e5. As well, b3 supports c4, so it should confuse Fritz slightly with which line we will actually play. Right now, Fritz is perfectly set up for the KIA, but by us making other moves, Fritz will need to make 2 other moves (besides castlling), at least one of which will need to address the possibility of c5. I believe that Black has "peaked" in his defense of e4, so other moves may actually be counterproductive. Looking at the board, there is not much left Black can throw at e4 right away. Black may actually get into Zugzwang. Right now our King is safe.

We also have a couple of other moves we can make, if needed (in our back pocket, so to speak). In some lines, e3 before e4 can be played, with the idea of moving the Queen to e2 off the d file, and supporting the e4 move (overprotecting the e4 square is a typical theme in the KIA), and also possibly attacking b5 if needed. Tempo is not quite as critical here as getting a good position to fight for Center Control. There are some other things we can try as needed, but I believe we will get to the KIA formation, it just may require a little more effort and thought (did you think we were going to get off easy with Fritz 12 on Maximum Level, Optimize strength?). Even Bobby Fischer played the board, not the system. This opening has a lot of resources for White, and Black must wait to figure out what we are doing. It is actually to our advantage to postpone the move e4, at this point (I am not saying this to make us feel better, but because it is true). If we need to go this route, then those moves would be e3, Qe2, e4. But we will need to see what Black comes up with next before deciding the precise route. Another option, if all else fails, is to move e3 then d4, closing the Center and locking in Black's QB, and then proceed with a Kingside attack. Black would fight this, but that's part of the fun of chess.

So to reiterate, we should play 7. Re1. It is needed in every line that I can foresee.

July 13 - GW: Okay, I understand. I guess I just saw I had a new toy - the KIA - and wanted to play with it. Now! But, I'll refrain and keep it in its box, for the time being ...

July 13 -KW: Don't go into a temper tantrum! We just need to put in a new set of batteries, and it should work fine. Now, where are my keys...?

Selected Move: 7. Re1

7. Re1 O-O
GW: (Proposed Move: 8. b3)
Reasoning: With pawns at b3 and d3, respectively, we'll match Black's two-pawn focus on c4, plus we'll be preparing to fianchetto our QB to b2, which not only develops that Bishop, but has it placed on the long diagonal (a1-h8), helping White to a 2-0 Control of d4 & e5 in the Center, while also directly threatening Black's Nf6.

A question for KW: "What's the likelihood of Black playing c7-c5, to create a 3-pawn Phalanx on the 5th Rank?" The reason I ask is due to the position of Black's dark-Bishop. Would the creation of the 3-pawn Phalanx outweigh limiting the scope of the Bishop (a3 would be left uncontested), at this particular phase of the game?

July 13 -KW: I would say over 90%, and the reason is Black has just moved Be7, and is uncertain what's going on. Fritz wouldn't want to move a Bishop that quickly again without reason, because he would lose tempo and slow down development. On the list of priorities inside Fritz, a3 is way down the list. Control of the Center is at the top. But if a tactical opportunity arose around, Fritz would take it. c7-c5 is helping to Control the Center by occupying a large Center square, and continuing with a Pawn steamroller on the Queenside. This would be Black's most likely next move.

... I'm just looking at Black's light-Bishop. Its path is already blocked by a pawn (d5), but it could be argued that the light-Bishop is in fact helping to strengthen the position of that e5-pawn. The same thing could happen with the c-pawn (c7-c5), right?

Yes the light Bishop is blocked by d5, but it is an x-ray attack on e4, the only difference to a normal x-ray attack is that what is in the way (the film?) is one of Fritz's own units, instead of one of ours. And yes, the same thing can happen with c7-c5.

A second (Third!) question for KW: "Before the 7th moves, you said - and I quote: 'I wouldn't be surprised at all if Fritz's next move were O-O, as that could support an attack through the d file to our King' [CLICK HERE, to see actual quote, for context] ... What was it about the position that led you to believe Castling (0-0) would likely take place? Hazarding a guess, I'd say that it's likely because the back rank, on the Kingside, is clear and ready for Castling to take place. But, that doesn't mean Castling would actually take place on that move. Is there anything else, about the current stage of development that might also lead one to think Castling might be about to occur?"

Yes! Two things. First, Be7 is a normal move to prepare for castling. It does serve to bolster the d8-h4 diagonal, but unless Black foresees us moving our Knight to g5 soon (I don't), that raises the percentages for castling. Also, there were other squares it could have gone to (like c5 or b4) that would have helped in Black's attack, but these would have interfered with his Pawn steamroller. Also, when going through the calculations on e4, d file, and a8-h1 diagonal, I noticed that if Black didn't castle, he wouldn't have a way of Controlling the d file if he exchanged Queens on d1 (in certain variations). That raised the likelihood that Black would castle next. Besides that, Black is just like you, GW: He has a toy (attack e4) that he wants to play with, and doesn't want to wait. "Sorry, Fritz, KW+GW are not going to play with you right now." So what does he do in the meantime? He will want to play with his other toys (King and Rook) to have some fun while he waits.

By the way, on a different topic, I notice, with 8. b3, we'll have a dark-square weakness (5:3 i n favor of light squares). My mind's gone a bit blank, with reference to Weak-square Complexes ... If our opponent's Pawns have majority on light-squares, should we attempt to match that, by placing the majority of our Pawns onto light-squares?; or, should we go for a counter-strategy and advance the majority of our Pawns onto dark-squares?

Yeah, I noticed that too while analyzing our last move. On the Queenside we will have a dark square weakness, which will be plugged by our Bb2. Fritz will probably start to limit our dark squares on the Queenside or try to exchange our Bb2 (we will have to watch out for this). Black has a dark square weakness on both sides of the Board. Once we get past this e4 hiccup, we will need to look at how we can limit Black on the dark squares.

The rule is, if your opponent is weak on one color, place your Pawns and Pieces to limit your opponent's activity on the weak color (NOTE: not necessarily by occupying with Pawns). Bg2 will do that, as does Nf3 Controlling d4 and e5. It's kind of like saying, kick him while he's down, where he's the weakest. The idea being we make Fritz weaker and weaker on the dark squares, while we Control them more and more. This is another reason to take our time here, because if we are going to have any hope of outplaying (or even keeping our own with) Fritz, it's these subtle things that can make a difference and tip the scales.

Anyway, my proposal is 8. b3 (heading for 9. Bb2, before deciding what to move after that).

I agree it should be 8. b3. The one disadvantage is that we need to move a Pawn on our Queenside (b3) in order to stabilize our Center. The Pawns on the Queenside are at their strongest when they are on their original squares for a Pawn steamroller (we postpone the attack until the last second). In this position, Black is not able to carry out a steamroller until c5, and even then it will probably take another move or two on his part. We can get our plan into place ahead of that, so we should be OK. Once the Center attack happens, it will be more difficult to carry out a steamroller without the d5 pawn.

Selected Move: 8. b3

8. b3 c5
GW: (Proposed Move: 9. Bb2)
Reasoning: It doesn't make sense not to complete the process of fianchettoing the QB.

July 14 -KW: You are absolutely right. I agree, let's play 9. Bb2.

In an email here GW asked, "How much of chess is just learning set Opening sequences 'off by heart', such as practicing all the known lines of the Reti, over and over again, until they're ingrained in the memory? My only apprehension with this is forever being stuck inside a book and not developing mental flexibility once "out of the book".

Or, am I looking at it wrong? Should I see learning Opening repertoires like driving a car on different routes - you have to drive them often enough, so they become familiar, then if one road is blocked/closed, you can drive a different road and still get to your destination?"

Those are great questions, and I would like to answer them here rather than as a reply to an email, because I think a lot of players may benefit from the answer.

There are a couple of schools of thought on how to teach beginning chess players how to develop towards mastery of this game.

One group says that every beginner should start 1. e4 or 1.d4, and stay away from 1. Nf3. The other group says for a new player, there is no better way to get started than learn something like the Barcza or KIA, with the Reti shortly behind.

Even within this first group there are subgroups. One says it should be 1. e4, because every player should have a period of time in the Open Games (1. e4 e5), and against the Sicilian (about 40% of 1. e4 games start out with the Sicilian). The rest of the openings (1...e6, 1...c6, 1...Nf6, etc.) should be learned as you go along. The rationale here is that by playing the open games like the Ruy Lopez, Scotch, Guioco Piano, etc., you will learn tactics (which is the weakest area for a new person because he/she is only just learning the moves of the Pieces and how squares interact) and strategy, more or less the way that the game of chess developed over the years since the start. It can also be a lot of fun when you play the gambits. Doing this will fill your arsenal with weapons that can be used in any other opening. Then when you feel comfortable here, you can move on.

What a beginning player finds, though, is that 1. e4 has been so analyzed that you may need 3 lines against the Sicilian (one each for 2...d6, 2...Nc6, 2...e6), two or three lines against the French (3. Nbd2 or 3. Nc3 or 3. d5), at least one line against the Caro Kann, Alekhine, a couple of lines against the Modern, Pirc, etc. etc. Finding good, up to date lines in each of these openings is a lot of work, and the lines are not similar enough to have a unified repertoire. I play 1. e4, but I have come up with my own repertoire that is more or less sound, but not played as often, so I can learn just a few lines instead of hundreds if not thousands. It is a lot of work, but in 1. e4, you do learn a lot. The swashbuckling attacks are generally here.

The second subgroup plays 1.d4. The reasoning here is that this move is automatically protected by the Queen, and opens a line for the QB. It tends to be a more strategical game, although there are a lot of fireworks ready to pop out. The problem with this is you have the Queen's Gambit Accepted and Declined, the Slav, Semi-Slav, Catalan, Colle, Nimzo-Indian, Kings Indian, Queens Indian, Gruenfeld, Benoni, Benko, etc. It's no better than 1. e4 in the amount of learning required (in fact, it may even be more). You do learn a lot playing these lines (like how to play Isolated Pawns and Queenside Majorities), but this kind of play isn't everybody's cup of tea.

Generally, proponents of these two subgroups winch and pooh pooh when they see a beginning or intermediate player starting out with the Barcza or KIA, sniffling that they feeling that it will limit their growth, and the feel for many positions derived from 1. e4 or 1. d4. While there may be some truth in that, until we are close to expert, we aren't winning much money in tournaments, and do not have the leisure of putting more time into learning these many lines.

The third group says, the Barcza or KIA or Reti is the way to go, and you will learn strategical themes (as these tend to be based more on strategy), and you will have your share of tactics and combinations. At the sub-Grandmaster level, it isn't seen quite as much either. The nice thing about these three openings is that the positions which arise are similar enough that ideas learned in one can transfer to another. Then when you feel ready, move on to either 1. e4 or 1. d4.

That seems like a long way around to begin answering your questions, but this preamble is necessary for the answer.

You say,"Should I see learning Opening repertoires like driving a car on different routes - you have to drive them often enough, so they become familiar, then if one road is blocked/closed, you can drive a different road and still get to your destination?"

I think there is a lot of truth to that analogy.

I went to the UK once for a couple of weeks, and did some travelling around London. Let's use that as an example. If I wanted to go from East London to West London, I could take the Motorway, or I could take the city streets. Many people don't like motorways because people drive too fast, they may miss their exit, the view is always the same, etc., etc. They prefer city streets because there are always places to stop along the way, the pace is slower, you have travelled the faster routes before and are familiar with them, you can always turn off and see a different part of the city that you haven't seen in a while, etc. etc. But no matter which way you do things, you still need certain things committed to memory (where I am going, the general route, when to turn, etc.). A minimum of memory is required, or at every light, you would be pulling out a map and see where you are, and what way I should go next. You can't get away from it. Until the paths become natural, you will need to look at a map or wing it, and look at a map later to see how I should have gone.

When I am going to be driving in a city I haven't travelled in before, I familiarize myself with the major routes before I enter the car. I will probably want to know more than the first few turns. Because I am in unfamiliar territory, I want to take a route that will get me there. I'm not concerned that there may be another route that would have cut 20 minutes off my time at that time of day, etc. I want to go from A to B, I want to be familiar enough that when the road comes up, I recognize it, and I want to turn when I should. When I have been there 6 months, I will feel pretty well at home with the paths and some detours because of construction.

The same goes with our opening as any opening. We know the first few turns (1. Nf3, 2. g3 3. Bg2 4. O-O), in this game I am showing you a couple of more (5. d3 6. Nd2 with normally 7. e4), but there could be constrution (roadblocks) along the way. It could come after move 1, it could come after move 6 (as in our game) or it could be later. The closer to home I am, the more I should know my neighborhood. This is MY territory. I should be more familiar with it than anyone else (my opponent). A certain amount of memorization IS necessary. But not all at once.

In these lines, you will not be "forever being stuck inside a book and not developing mental flexibility once "out of the book"". These lines change rarely. They are not like the Sicilian Schevenigan or Richter-Rauzer or Najdorf or whatever else is the hottest thing in chess that can change daily and has hundreds of variations. With the Barcza opening, we are reducing the amount you should at least be familiar with from thousands or tens of thousands of lines (literally) to a couple of dozen at most. In the KIA Repertoire Suggestion there are 8 main lines. In the Reti there are about 6 main lines. In my own copy of the KIA repertoire, I will be adding a line about this variation that Fritz has thrown our way, even though it is similar to the Long Variation or the Sicilian Connection mentioned in the Repertoire Suggestions. I may not travel down this path often, but next time I meet it, I will be prepared.

I think that is a good compromise. Learning a dozen or two variations until they become good friends (like walking a mile in any direction around your house), and learning typical plans that can arise in any variation (like learning the major routes of a city). What I am seeking to do is provide you with both. Get those under your belt, and you can become as natural a player as Capablanca, or Lasker as you want. You never have to become like Botvinnik or Fischer, neither of whom seems to have ever forgotten anything they ever saw or read about tens of thousands of chess variations. You don't need to know every variation through move 30. In our system (Barcza, KIA, Reti) the openings are consistent, and the strategies are the same again and again, just in different combinations. You will become a more positional player.

King's Indian Attack Repertoire Suggestion

While searching the Internet, I have found a great site for the KIA. The first page is a great description of the KIA even for those familiar with it. On that page is a statement: "In this section, we will take a look at eight of the most important variations in the King's Indian Attack. Take the time to survey these line with their move by move commentary and you will find yourself ready to tackle anything black is likely to throw at you. Here you can play through a move by move explication of a given line or variation."

His explication line by line is virtually that, so I decided that this would be a good way to suggest a Repertoire.

July 15 - GW: That website KW linked to is definitely worth a visit. There's 8 good variations to learn and understand, for those wanting the KIA as one part of their Opening Repertoire.

Selected Move: 9. Bb2

9. Bb2 Nc6
July 15 - GW: (Proposed Move: 10. e4)
Reasoning: I'm conscious of the increasing strength of Black's 3-pawn Phalanx (b5,c5,d5). Playing e2-e4 would - well "should" - help to break off the d-pawn: 10. e4 dxe4 11. dxe4, with our original d-pawn ending up on e4, protected by Nd2, with that same Knight in place to prevent the immediate loss of our Queen (11. ... Qxd1). I say "should", because if 10. e4 d4 11. e5 forces Black's KN to move, relinquishing its interest of the e4 square.

I did consider two other moves (both pawns, respectively):

10. h3
This might be a bit premature ... I was just looking at it with the idea of taking away g4, as a possible landing square for Black's KN.

10. c3
The only thing I had in mind was matching Black's 3-pawn Phalanx with one of our own. However, I think ours would be the inferior arrangement, as it'd only be stationed on our 3rd Rank, whereas Black's Phalanx is on its 4th Rank, threatening to leave at least one pawn in our territory, should a fight break out.

My proposal is 10. e4; I just think it has more substance than the other two moves I considered.

July 15-KW: I agree. e4 is the strongest move. Nc6 does not change our plans. Black will attempt to dominate the Queenside, White the Kingside. So c3 would block our Bishop (not a good idea, as it influences the Center). And h3 is OK, but h4 would probably be better, but not now (review some of the KIA lines recommended above in link).

By the way, that same web site has an excellent section on the Reti, for anyone interested.

July 15 - GW: I checked out that Reti article. The gist of it was that the Reti (1. Nf3 d5 2. c4) shouldn't be played solely to avoid having to learn the intricacies of Openings such as Queen's Pawn (1. d4), English (1. c4) or Indian systems (1. d4 Nf6). Instead, the real power of the Reti Opening is in the options it gives you for transposing, at a time of your choosing into one of the other positions, at the point when it's most-advantageous to your army. The trick is understanding when to transpose, and that's what the Reti article, linked to by KW, attempts to discuss.

Selected Move: 10. e4

10. e4 d4
July 16 - GW: (Proposed Move: 11. e5)

First off, it shows my anticipation is still a bit iffy ... in the build-up to my proposal of 10. e4, I did mention Black playing 10. ... d4, but in the context of it NOT likely to happen, as we could then push our e-pawn to force Black's Nf6 to move. But, that's precisely the option we're now facing!

Maybe Black's calculations include having to move that Knight? That's the first thing I'm going to look at. But, before that, it should be pointed out that we've now got a Bad dark-Bishop and a Backward c-Pawn, all courtesy of 10. ... d4.

Here's what I'm trying to anticipate, if 11. e5:

NOTE: I've switched off Fritz's Engine, to manually make the moves; I still don't feel my chess-brain's conditioned enough to visualize all the potential variations in my mind, yet.

  • 11. e5 Nd7
    Black's Knight would block its Queen from defending the d4-pawn. However, that pawn is in a relatively strong position, attacked only by 2 of White's Pieces, which can't really do anything to it, because of the c5-pawn defending it (exchanging a Knight or Bishop for a lowly Pawn, in this situation, would be a BAD trade).

    At this point, I recall something I think KW said, regarding this game's development, about how White's attacking potential will be on the Kingside, while Black will try to attack down the Queenside ...

    Now, looking at the Knight, on d7; there's the potential for coming down the Queeside Flank, via b6-d5, then with scope for either getting onto b4 (taking advantage of the c5 Support Point), or to remain on d5 (taking advantage of the e6 Support Point), to help advance more Black troops.

    If 11. ... Nd7, I don't think it will remain there, due to the aforementioned blocking of the Black Queen. How long it stays on d7, could be dependent on what we'd do surrounding our e5-pawn.

    So, what might we do?

    We're in the process of getting squeezed by Black's b-, c-, and d-pawns. I feel we need to deal with them, but I'm struggling to think of how best to go about it.

  • 11. e5 Nd5
    Looking at this, why would Black bother to go to Nc6, just to get onto d5, when 11. ... Nd5 gets there within a single move? Once on d5, the Knight helps to increase the squeeze on our Queenside position. I think this move would be more likely, than 11. ... Nd7.

  • 11. e5 Ng4
    I had this listed as a potential Black Knight move, but no longer think this will happen. The action's all over on the Queenside of the board. Going across to g4 weakens Black's pressure, that's currently building in White's Queenside quarter.

Because of 11. ... Nd5, I'm having doubts about the viability of 11. e5. On its current square, our e4-pawn is preventing any move to d5, by Black's KN.

Whether we played e4-e5, or not, one move I don't think Black intends to play, just yet, is b5-b4, as that'd allow our QN to get onto c4, with twin Support Points (b3 and d3, respectively). But, Black would get an Advanced Reversed Salient (b4,c5,d4) ...

However, and this is something I've just spotted: if we don't play e4-e5, that lets Black play e6-e5, to get and Advanced Salient (c5,d4,e5), with both our central pawns incapable of advancing beyond our 4th Rank. We'd also have TWO Bad Bishops. Our Nf3 wouldn't be any use, as, for example, 12. ... e5 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 sees us down a Knight, for a lowly Pawn.

I was beginning to look away from playing 11. e5, towards advancing our a- and b- pawns, for an attack on Black's b- or c-pawns, respectively, but I've not got any further with that line of thinking, as now I'm back to wondering that it - 11. e5 - might be necessary.

Yep, I propose 11. e5, as I think we won't get another chance to advance a protected Pawn into enemy territory. In addition, we'll also have the e4-square free to give our QN a bit more forwards-mobility.

July 17 -KW: By moving e5, we basically cut the board in two, and force Black's Nf6 off its best square. Depending what Black does, our next move could be possibly 12. Qe2, getting it off the d file, making room for the QR on d1, and further protecting e5 as well as protecting c4 once more as the most likely Black move to open the Queenside would be c5-c4. Qe2 should delay that assault. There would be some tradeoffs on that square, but it depends what Black does next.

We have the makings of a great Kingside attack. In the KIA, as you'll see on that KIA site mentioned earlier, e4 is to become a strong square in White's attack. White proceeds with a Kingside attack, and only does something on the Queenside when absolutely necessary (as was b3 and Bb2 earlier, which actually helps our Kingside attack if Black moves c5-c4). Black's Kingside after the move e5 would only be protected by Be7 and the Queen, while we are beginning to train everything we have at that side. Moving h4 (as well a Ne4) at some point will dull the Bishop being able to go to g5. We now would also, as GW mentioned, be able to have a strong Outpost for our Knight on d4, and freeing the Nf3 for combat. With Nd4, and a pawn on e5, it would have a possible Outpost on d6 and f6, depending on Black's moves. It would there also be attacking the c5 pawn. This square could also become a square to do a "Rook lift" to e4, then maybe Rg4 or Rf4, with a powerful attack.

I agree. We should move e5.

Selected Move: 11. e5

11. e5 Nd5
GW: (Proposed Move: 12. Ne4)
Reasoning: At present, I don't see how we can prevent the continual squeeze, by Black, on the Queenside ... I anticipate Black intends to play 12. ... b4, with that pawn supported by Nd5 and c5.

From our perspective, if we're going to have trouble advancing Queenside - for a few moves, at least - I really think we should start giving Black something to think about on the Kingside. In particular, I'd like to get a Pawn up to support our pawn at e5; the only one that can currently do that is our f-pawn, but our KN needs to get out of the way, in order for that to happen.
My thought is to move our QN to e4 and then our KN can get across onto d2, to release the f-pawn, while also revealing our light-Bishop, with a Discovered Attack on Black's Nd5.

Aug 2 -KW: (Regarding 12. Ne4), That's not a bad idea, it's just which is the best piece to move, and in which order, and to where (isn't that what chess is all about?). If we move your suggested move order, we will after your second move (Nf3-d2) have NO defender for e5 for a moment (the Rook on e1 would be blocked by the Ne4). We would lose a pawn to 12...Nxe5. The advantage of Ne4 is that it protects c3 from Black's Knight going there (allowing us to play Qe2) and creating an outpost, while we do get to create an outpost on e4 where it radiates its power, e.g. where it gets to jump to either d6 or f6 as the opportunity arrives.. It also moves it closer to a Kingside attack, and fixes the Be7 to defend c5.

As alternate lines, perhaps other moves to consider would be:

  1. 12. h4, preparing a possible Outpost on g5 and preventing the Be7 from going to that square, as well as a possible h4-h5-h6.
  2. 12. Ne4 then 13. h4, 14. Neg5 defending e5 the whole way and coordinating the Pieces for a Kingside attack.
  3. 12. a3, blunting Black's Queenside assault as it controls b4 from the Knights, and after b4, 13. axb4 creates a half-open (or if a5 is played first, an open) a file for the QR.
  4. This morning I noticed that Qc1 is also good, as it helps control the c file, and prepares to attack on the c1-h6 diagonal, allowing the Nf3 to remain where it is to keep guarding e5, or a later movement to attack Kingside.

Looking at our overall Center right now, White controls e4 and e5 with outposts available on d6 and f6, Black slightly controls d4 with an outpost available on c3, and slightly greater Control of d5.

But I agree. 12. Ne4 seems our best this move.

Aug 5 - GW: Darn it ... I was focusing so much on getting the KN of f3 and releasing additional range for the light-Bishop, that I totally took my attention away from our e5-pawn ... It's those sorts of misjudgements that I suffer from. Ah well, at least I managed to match my proposed 12th move with KW's! Here it goes ...

Selected Move: 12. Ne4

12. Ne4 Qc7
GW: (Proposed Move: 13. h4)
Reasoning: It creates another Support Point for one of our Knights, this time, to get onto g5.

Other Candidate Moves I looked at, were:
  • 13. a3
    Simply to defend the b4-square.

  • 13. Qe2
    Forming a Queen-Rook Battery along the e-file, which also serves to Connect our two Rooks. The Queen could either be moved on, after that, to f1, while we possible double Rooks on the e-file, in support of our e-pawn ...

    Or, we might be able to play for an Exchange, with 14. Neg5 Bxg5 15. Nxg5.

Aug 7 -KW: Hold on! I think you missed what the move Qc7 accomplishes. There are now TWO units attacking e5 to our ONE Unit of defense. Moving h4 will allow Black to capture on e5, and the Queen would be able to enter its defense of the Kingside. It also defends the QB, and supports an attack opening the c-file.

    One principle I have always used in games, that I read somewhere, that made a lot of sense, was to:
  • On your opponent's move, concentrate on strategy, i.e. look at the point count, strengths and weaknesses on both sides, and think of where you want your pieces ideally;
  • On your move, concentrate on tactics. Ask what did your opponent threaten or accomplish with the last move. Then concentrate on every check and capture you can make, and follow the lines for a couple of moves(This is how Tal played - he was a master at sacrifice). Following that, concentrate on what your opponent can do in the future to improve his position, and what you can do now before he does it to prevent his moves (Petrosian was a master at defending, and virtually stiffling his opponent's chances).

→ EXAMPLE: Ken Wilsdon's 2-point Principles

    Try Bent Larsen's method of 8 questions:
  1. What type of pawn structure is it? This is the skeleton of the position. If there are no pawns in the Center, Kingside or Queenside, then the pieces gain in importance on that part of the board. If Center pawns are blocked, then play to break through on the flanks. Kotov's Think Like a Grandmaster and Play Like a Grandmaster as well as Euwe and Kramer's The Middlegame go into this in greater detail.
  2. What is good and what is bad about my position? This is where Point Count comes in handy.
  3. Which pieces do I want to exchange,and which do I want to keep? If your opponent has a strong piece and you have a weak one, then you do not mind an exchange, and vice versa.
  4. Which side of the board should I play on? Your opponent's weakest spot should be attacked, but also you should play on the side of the board where you have the most pieces to use.
  5. What is my dream position? Ask, "If I were allowed to make several moves in a row, what would they be?"
  6. What does my opponent want to do? If your opponent has an obvious plan, it is good to hinder it. You take the sting out of the attack before it even begins.
  7. Can I take a step in the right direction? When you find an overall plan, find partial goals to achieve the overall plan.
  8. Which moves are worth taking a look at? These are your candidate moves. Analyze them more deeply and make the best move.

→ EXAMPLE: Bent Larsen's 8-point Method

You will notice that Questions 1-5 are mainly strategy (should be done on the opponent's time), while Questions 6-8 are more tactical in nature (on your time).

Here, the d-file and e-file is blocked by opposing pawns. Attack on the flank is called for. We have a greater force on the Kingside than Black. There is no immediate danger on the Queenside. And e5 is THE key to our position. We must not let it fall, for Black will Control the Center if he controls e5, and will be able to transfer pieces to defend the Kingside. The only way to defend it is by moving the e4 Knight. That way, Nf3 and Re1 protect it well enough for now.

Since the Queen has moved off the d8-h4 diagonal, there is only one piece (the Be7) attacking g5. If the e4 Knight goes to g5, we have moved the QN into the Kingside attack, and e5 is secured. If 13...Bxg5 (giving up Bishop for Knight), 14. Nxg5 Nxe5 15. Qh5 threatens mate. Even if Black's Knight makes it to e5, it is not well placed in the defense there (Ne5-g6 does little to help the defense).

13. Nd6 Bxd6 14. exd6 Qxe6 loses any chance of Control of the Center, and we are playing on the wrong side of the board in this position. Black is strongest on the Queenside. We are strongest on the Kingside.

13. Nf6+ opens up the kingside if ...gxf6 and loses its only defender if ...Bxf6 exf6 threatening fxg7. This whole line of attack only works well if we could move a Queen or Rook to the Kingside immediately (before Black can bring other pieces to the defense), which we can't. We are having some problems coordinating our pieces for an immediate attack.

For these reasons, I am going with 13. Ng5. If Black will let us, we should follow up with 14. h4.

HOLD THE PRESSES! After going through the assessment at step 8 myself in more detail, I now propose 13. c4!?.

29 Aug - GW: I'm glad you didn't fully explain your reasoning for 13. c4 ... it gives me a chance to guess your, possible, reasoning ...

I think you're looking at Exchanging Pawns, with Black capturing En Passant, followed by a possible Knight Exchange, which will clear our Knight off e4 (so, a "Clearance Sacrifice"), revealing our Re1, to co-protect our e5-Pawn, which would make it "barely adequately protected" (our Re1+Nf3 versus Black's Nc6+Qc7), so still Vulnerable. However, with the Knight Exchange, our e-Pawn would become "Overprotected" due to the removal of Black's d4-Pawn and our dark-Bishop capturing the Black Knight, on c3 (increasing that Bishop's mobility, towards e5). Something a bit like this:

13. c4 dxc3 (EP) 14. Nxc3 Nxc3 15. Bxc3 b4 16. Bb2

We'll see, but 13. c4 it is!

Selected Move: 13. c4

13. c4 dxc3
GW: (Proposed Move: 14. Nxc3)
Reasoning: By capturing with this Knight, we move it into a potential Minor Piece Exchange. I think this is preferable to making the maneuver with our dark-Bishop, which can, instead, remain to complete the Knight Exchange and - eventually - join in the protection of our e5-Pawn (hopefully, following 14. ... Nxc3 15. Bxc3).

In addition, with our Knight coming off e4, it clears the path for our Re1 to protect our e5-pawn, while we settle matters, currently playing-out, on the Queenside.

Because the Knight will be used in an Exchange, as well as to clear the path for the aforementioned Rook, this will be a classic "Clearance Sacrifice".

Aug 29 -KW: Yes, that was the plan, which Black graciously consented to. This does open the Queenside, where Black has more Pieces, but our Pieces will be better coordinated, and our QB will have a more open line to the Kingside and the Center. The game is turning into a combination King's Indian Attack (11. e5) and Reti (13. c4). Traditionally, these openings concentrate on different sides of the board (Kingside and Queenside, respectively). Once the dust settles in a move or two, we will need to re-evaluate which side of the board we should concentrate on.

At the moment, this is a "clearance exchange" rather than a "sacrifice", as unless I am missing something (if so, Fritz will let us know within a couple of moves!), we will be even material-wise after exchanging.

Let's play 14. Nxc3.

Aug 30 - GW: Ken, I can see your argument for it being a "Clearance Exchange", as the Knight is being "cleared" to be "exchanged" ... From my perspective, firstly, I'd only ever heard of a Clearance Sacrifice, so that's what I went with. Added to that, the way I looked at it, the Knight is being deliberately sent, most likely, to be captured (a sacrificial maneuver), also in order to clear the path from our Re1 to the e5-Pawn.

I've got no issue with either ... Now to battle:

Selected Move: 14. Nxc3

14. Nxc3 Nxc3
GW: (Proposed Move: 15. Bxc3)
Reasoning: Take a look at where the Black Knight is, in relation to our Queen ... Plus, what we both saw in the lead up to Move 13.

Aug 30 - KW: The only reasonable move: 15. Bxc3. Let's see what Black does next.

Selected Move: 15. Bxc3

15. Bxc3 Rad8
GW: (Proposed Move: 16. Qd2)
Reasoning: I can't quite make up my mind whether our d-Pawn is considered "Backward" or "Hanging" ... to me, it's certainly got elements of both: Backward, because it can't advance without being captured; Hanging, because, while there is a Pawn on an adjacent file (e5), it can't help to protect the Pawn at d3. In addition, this Pawn is also being 'frontally attacked', which I believe is also part of Hanging Pawn situation.

Whatever, there's one thing for certain: the d3-Pawn is Weak and has been justly attacked by Black (aiming to divide our attentions between protecting our d- and e- Pawns, respectively.

KW: According to H&M-S, p. 114, "By Hanging Pawns is usually meant a fourth-rank phalanx isolated from other pawns and under frontal attack." My opinion is that this is a Backward Pawn. I think the real question is whether the pawn is, as you say, weak. On p. 121, H&M-S says, "The pawn is weak if it is or can be attacked, especially through the file, and if its defense will tie up several pieces. It is also weak if, when attacked by an enemy pawn, it can neither push on nor swap itself off without serious disadvantage."

On p. 86, they say in the section The Acceptable Backward Pawn, "A backward pawn is bearable in certain circumstances, as when
  1. it can safely advance before it becomes fixed, or
  2. the opponent cannot open the file to attakc it frontally, or
  3. it can be sheltered by an outpost ahead of it on the file."

Our analysis will need to look at these factors.

I'm also aware of the potential advance of one of Black's Pawns (b5 & c5, respectively), though, with my limited experience, I couldn't confidently say which would be the more likely to move. If I were pressed into giving a prediction, I'd say b5-b4 is more likely, as the c5-Pawn would be better placed on its current square, to act as a Support Point, at the appropriate time, for Black's Nc6, to get onto d4.

Okay, I'm looking at two options:

  • 16. Re3
    Keep the Queen in place to continue protecting our d3-Pawn, while advancing our KR to e3, to - for this move, at least - Overprotect the d3-Pawn, while also keeping 2 units protecting our e5-Pawn, against the two Black threats (Nc6 & Qc7). I accept that the KR would then be somewhat Overextended (protecting 2 units at the same time), but nothing can adequately threaten it (Black's Be7-g5 is the only immediate Piece that springs to mind, but our Nf3 would say thank you very much and capture a freebie - somehow, I don't think Fritz is going to be that generous!).

    So, 16. Re3 is a Candidate Move.

  • 16. Qd2
    Connects the two Rooks, while keeping our d3-Pawn protected (albeit barely adequately). There is the small argument of the Queen being positioned on d2 to also guard g5, so that our Nf3 can continue its co-protection of the e5-Pawn ... Re1-e3 would get in the way of that.

It's a tight call, but I just - only just, mind - think 16. Qd2, and the Rook Connection will give us more flexibility in the coming moves, so that's why it's my proposed move.

These are certainly Candidate Moves. But before we proceed further, as I mentioned on move 14, "Once the dust settles in a move or two, we will need to re-evaluate which side of the board we should concentrate on."

It's time once again to look at the 2 Point Principles and the 8 Point Method.

What type of pawn structure is it? Our pawn structure has changed in the last couple of moves. As I mentioned in the 8 Point Method, "Anytime a pawn is moved or contemplated, I want to re-examine this point." We have not only moved pawns, we have exchanged them.

So let's look at the Big Picture. As far as Control of the Center, Black currently controls d4 3 to 2, though if the d3 pawn moved to d4, the pawn would be exchanged, but d4 would be protected as well by the Queen. So d4 needs to be a Candidate move. Matching up from lowest to highest by exchanges (if d3-d4), pawns would equalize, Knights would equalize, and White's Bishop would be exchanged for Black's Rook, with the White Queen on d4 at the end. White would then control d4.

As for d5, Black controls this 2 to 0, and the pawn on e6 prevents White from placing a piece there.

On to e5, White occupies it, and on an exchange right now, the White pawn would be lost, the Knights would equalize, and Black would lose his Queen and White would end up with his Re1 on e5. So White controls e5. The only possible additional threat would be for Black to move f6, which would weaken his Kingside immensely, so it is unlikely.

As to e4, White controls it 2 to 0, and even if White moved the d3 pawn to d4, and the Knights moved and the Bishops exchanged on this square, the Rook on e1 would end up on e4. So White would still control it.

Overall then, White controls 2 of the 4 squares currently, and could control 3 of 4. White is a little better in the center, let's say +1/2 point at the moment (conservatively).

Remember "Controlling the mobility of the crippled Major, winged in action, qualified as a salient idea as he advanced twice through the chain of command."? Black has a Mobile Pawn Wing (+), but it is hanging (-). Nothing of the rest really applies. Black lost his Advanced Chain, so the previous exchange benefited us more than just to open the position.

What is good and what is bad about my position?

Material is even. Looking at the Pawns, and remembering "Opa (Grandfather in some cultures) was hanging 4 2 long before he bid farewell", we do not have outside or passed pawns, but White does have an Advanced Pawn (e5 +), we have already counted Black's hanging pawns, White has a Backward Pawn under frontal attack(d3 -), but it is still mobile (H&M-S can be "pushed" and "swap itself off", above) so let's say -1/2 right now. It is weak, but it need not be permanent. However, if Black could move his Knight to d4, it would be permanent (exchanges then: Black would lose pawn and Knight vs. Knight and Bishop - winning the exchange, and Black's Rook could still blockade on d4). No isolated or doubled pawns. The c5 pawn is unprotected. Sep 01 - GW: You sure it's unprotected? What about Black's Be7? Or, is it simply the c5-Pawn has no other Pawns protecting it, so it's unprotected by fellow Pawns? ... And, that matters, because - ideally - you don't want to keep a Piece tied into protecting a Pawn; in the long-term, Pawns should protect Pawns, with Pieces doing the job, where applicable (e.g. Re1 protecting e5-Pawn), until it can safely move to other objectives?

Bishops. White's QB is more active currently than Black's, and his KB is more active than Black's as well. In fact, Black's KB cannot move forward without being taken. In effect, a Bad Bishop. White's Bishops are probably on their best diagonals. The a8-h1 diagonal is still hotly contested. The Bc3 is unprotected, but not immediately attacked. (+1)

Knights. About equal, but a slight nod to Black's Knight, as it can land on d4, while White is Vulnerable because of the c5 pawn. (-1/2) No Outposts.

Rooks. Black has an active Rook on d8, White on e1. The advantage of the Black Rook being on a half-open d-file is matched by the ability of White's Rook to defend threats on both e4 and e5 better than Black can defend on the d file (as mentioned above when we looked at the Control of the Center). (=) White's Ra1 could go to c1 to be on the half-open file (another Candidate Move), while Black's Rf8 is pretty well stuck where it is. Black's Rooks are connected, White's are not. As well, the Ra1 could become more useful on a1 if the Pawn moves to a3, and there is an exchange opening the a-file (as Black's Rook has abandoned that file). Slight nod to the mobility and usefulness of the White Ra1 (+1/2).

Queens. Black's is off the back rank, White's is not. The d-file is more central than the c-file, a slight advantage. The Rd8 has now the possibility of an x-ray attack on White's Queen, but Black's Queen is unprotected. (About =)

Kings. Both sides have castled. Neither side has a weakened King. (=)

Color Complexes. 4 of Black's Pawns are on light squares, 4 of White's Pawns are on dark squares. Both sides are battling over the control of the dark squares, while White's Pawns and Pieces control a little more of the light squares than Black. White should concentrate on gaining more control over the light squares, as that will assist his Kingside attack. (about =)

Space. Remember "We are vulnerable to cramped black holes sucking our cheese grater into space using their mobiles."COA Space Count: 7(W) to 9 (B); COA Territorial Domination: 13(W) to 12(B). Black's position is still slightly more cramped than White's (mainly because of the moves available to Nc6), although the exchanges and the Rd8 have helped that out. Black's side has holes at b5, c7, h5; White has holes at a3, c3, g4. Overall (=)

Time. Finally, remember "The temp developed coordination in time for the bosses questions.", or even shorter, "The temp developed coordination". Black has gained the initiative after the exchanges (tempo lost when Bishop ended the exchanges). White's pieces slightly more coordinated now than Black's. Black has developed about as far as possible. White could develop by a3, Rac1, Qd2 or Qc2. About (=).

Summing up the Point Count pluses and minuses, White has a very slight advantage.

GW, you probably have done a similar analysis after each of the last 2 moves. You are looking at the board, try to explain the strengths and weaknesses of your position in detail. It will reward you greatly. In order to get better at chess, and understanding the positions and seeing more Candidate Moves, using the Point Count continuously in between moves is very important. It's the difference between being in London and taking a lorrie for 25 blocks as a passenger and quickly seeing one or two things as you pass by, and walking the 25 blocks, taking your time, peeking into the store windows as you go, and going inside some and asking the storekeeper some questions. Which one will you learn more about your route? The Point Count method is a methodical approach to understanding chess better. It takes time, especially at first, but when you get used to it, you could perform the above analysis in about 4-5 minutes (usually on the other person's clock time). I have verbalized my thought processes to show the logic behind it.

Which pieces do I want to exchange,and which do I want to keep? Exchanges at this point reduce our attacking force on the Kingside, while on the positive front, gaining better Control in the Center. I do not want to exchange Queens unless I gain a significant positional or tactical advantage. I would like to keep the QB.

Which side of the board should I play on? We still have an advantage on the Kingside. Black is attacking our weakness on d3. We should clarify the center situation before proceeding. The Hanging Pawns are a weakness for Black.

What is my dream position? Ask, "If I were allowed to make several moves in a row, what would they be?" I would want a3, Rac1, Qc2, Bge4, h4. By doing this I will have better Control of the Center and a better Kingside attack.

So now we are done with the preliminaries. Now let's examine Black's last move and what our Candidate Moves should be.

What does my opponent want to do? By moving Rad8, Black has put pressure on the d-file, and is threatening Nd4, baracading the d3 pawn, and gaining a lasting advantage. Also, with the Rook on d8, the Rook can come down to d5 later to attack the e5 pawn. Also, if the d3 pawn were removed, my Queen would be attacked.

By moving from a8, the Rook has left the a pawn without protection.

It seems the best thing to do to hinder Black's plan is d4, so the Knight cannot move there without an exchange, the e5 pawn would be protected, the c5 pawn attacked (I would need to move the Queen before taking the c5 pawn).

Can I take a step in the right direction? d4 would seem a natural move to take a step in the right direction.

Which moves are worth taking a look at? These are your candidate moves. Analyze them more deeply and make the best move."

Re3. Loses a tempo, defends the d3 pawn and is a Rook lift, but does nothing to prevent Nd4, and the lift would be better on e4 than e3. Qd2. Connects the Rooks and gets on the c1-h6 diagonal. Could protect the important squares c3 and g5. h4 would be better to protect g5. It does not protect from the blockade by Nd4.

h3, Rac1, h4 - all do not protect from the blockade by Nd4.

Qc2. Can be attacked by Nd4.

d4. The advantages are it prevents the blockade on d4, protects e5, attacks c5, brings another defender (Qd1) to d4, and by the natural series of exchanges (shown under Control of the Center above), allows White Control of 3 of the 4 Center squares. Disadvantages are White's Queen possibly a little more exposed to attack through the exchanges, but probably the biggest is that it opens the Center to the Rooks, where they will have more influence in the rest of the game, and reduces our attacking force, which could be to Black's advantage in his attempt to protect his King.

  • 16. d4 cxd4 would follow the above line.
  • 16. d4 c4 17 a3! (threatening b4 next move, locking in Black's dark Bishop) cxb3 18. Qxb3 threatening Qxb5 next move.

I would be OK with either of those options. Overall, I think it is our best move. I vote for 16. d4.

Selected Move: 16. d4

16. d4 cxd4
GW: (Proposed Move: 17. Bxd4)
Reasoning: KW, I know what you said about wanting to keep the QB, thus exchanging Knight for Knight (e.g. 17. Nxd4 Nxd4) ... but, I don't think that's Black's plan ... If we go for Black's d4-Pawn with our Nf3, Black's going to wipe out our e5-Pawn (17. ... Nxe5) and we won't have a Knight in place, to safely capture Black's Knight with our Re1 (18. Rxe5).

Moving the Bishop to safety would allow Black to reinforce d4 (possibly with Be7-c5), then it's be 3-v-3 against the d4 "square" ... but, with Black having pushed a Pawn onto d4, Black would end up Controlling e4, in what would be a very Cramped position for us, right?

As it stands, it's 3-v-2, to us, for Control of d4. On first glance, I believe we must tackle this Pawn and capture it now (17. Bxd4). But, let's not waste your Analysis Lesson ... I'll attempt to go through your thinking process, for this move ...
Sept 3 - KW: Good! One of the points of this entire process is to help you become a better chess player, and analyzing a position as you are about to do is one important step!
What type of pawn structure is it? As you said, when Pawns have been moved we should re-examine the position.

We first look at Control of the Center:

  • d4 is currently Controlled 3 to 2 by White, with (technically) the two Knights equalizing each other, the Bishop and Rook having to contend with each other, leaving White's Queen as sole guardian of d4. Though, I believe Black's Be7-c5 is potentially imminent ... If the d4-Pawn wasn't dealt with, that would alter the match-ups, with Knight equalizing Knight; Bishop equalizing Bishop; and Black's Rook making the White Queen the most vulnerable ... and that's in addition to Black's d4-Pawn still remaining in situ (IF, we did nothing). [WHITE]

  • d5 is Controlled 2-0 by Black, with Bb7 X-raying through, potentially adding a third Black unit (should Nc6 move from its current spot). [BLACK]

  • e5 is 2x attacked by both sides ... But, with Knights equalizing Knights; our Re1 has more power over the Black Queen (Qc7), which has a greater value than the Rook, so is more vulnerable in an unequal exchange. As KW mentioned in the build-up to the last move, f7-f6 would weaken the Black King's stronghold, so this isn't likely to happen, at the moment. Our attack on e5 is Qualitatively superior (because of the less-value units at risk in the Exchanges), so White just edges Control of e5. Just. [WHITE]

  • e4 is Controlled by White's solitary Re1. [WHITE]

  • So, in the present position, White Controls the Center [3-1] ... but, I'm under no illusion - there's still plenty to fight for, before either army can claim to have ultimate Control of the Center! In fact, I think it's such a slim Center Control advantage (looking at the position Dynamically), for White, that I'm going to give just just a half-point to White (WHITE +½).
KW: Beautiful! You are not only using the static Point Count, but also DYNAMICALLY assessing the position! I couldn't ask for more!

One thing I'm not sure about ... Does Black still have a Mobile Pawn Wing?

KW: Normally, a Mobile Pawn Wing is against the King position when both sides have same-side castled, and the Center is closed and one side's King is safer than another. I'll refer you back to H&M-S, p. 72-74, diagrams 47A-C, in the section "A Typical Morphy Attack".

H&M-S on p. 79, discussing the Pawn Storm (which we have had on the Queenside since the early moves) says, "Once a pawn storm against you gets under way, you must formulate a plan either
  1. to break the force of the assault or
  2. to counterattack through the center or on the other wing.
Most desirable, however - and also most difficult - is to restrain the adverse pawn wing from advancing at all."

We have chosen through our moves to break the force of the source, and will counterattack through center or on the other wing.

Secondly, with the Majority Wing (Queenside) having been split up, (during 16. ... cxd4), while Black still has a Majority of 3 to 2 on the Queenside, gap left down the c-file has left it slightly crippled, right? So, a Crippled Majority Wing? It's not much of one, though, as the two opposing a- and b-pawns block each other, while Black's newly-transferred d4-Pawn is about to be wiped off the board, so the Majority Wing is about to disappear (along with it the Crippled element; if it was ever much in the first place). Because of that, I hesitate to deduct any Black points for a Crippled Majority Wing, owing to the Dynamic position, which I'd say outrank's the Static position.

KW: Right. Normally a Crippled Majority Wing would have one of the BID elements (Backward, Isolated, Doubled Pawn), AND should have more Pawns than the other side.

Moving on ...

What is good and what is bad about my position?

  • Pawns Black has one extra Pawn than White, owing to that recent capture (16. ... cxd4). That'll be reduced to equal Pawns, upon 17. Bxd4. I'll give a point to Black, while this material superiority exists (BLACK +1). The same d4-Pawn is also an Advanced Pawn AND a Passed Pawn, though I'll only give a single point for that (BLACK +1). White's Advanced Pawn, on e5, remains (WHITE +1) Just as an aside, I normally find it easier when playing over the board to assign my side plus (+) points, and the opposition minus (-)points, as I can do a running total as I go through the position, and see the overall result while I am seeing the individual strengths and weaknesses. When the tally gets to -3 (the equivalent to a pawn) its a good time to think about resigning, while if it is +2, I should be looking to attack somewhere that my opponent is weakest. There is nothing wrong with the way you are counting, it's just my preference in OTB play.

  • Knights During KW's last analysis, Black was given a 1/2 point, because the Nc6 could land on the central d4-square, which was an Outpost, protected by the c5-Pawn. However, that c5-Pawn no longer exists (thus, the Support Point), as it's now on d4, preventing the Knight from getting there. With no change for White's Nf3, these two Knights are roughly equal (=).

  • Bishops Both opposing light-square Bishops have equal Mobility (=); however, Black's dark-Bishop now enjoys more COA Space Count than White's dark-Bishop, due to Black's 16. ... cxd4 maneuver. I'd say Black's Bishop just has the point (BLACK +1), in this Static position. However, Dynamically, if we proceed with 17. Bxd4, then 17. ... Nxd4 18. Nxd4 and, quite probably, 18. ... Bxg2 19. Kxg2. From there, I'm not sure what, but Black would have one Bishop remaining, we'd have lost both. So, Black's +1 point here looks justified, though I'd be interested to get KW's thoughts. Black's dark squared Bishop has greater Vulnerability on the squares it can move to, before the inevitable exchange that comes next. True, that has changed some with cxd4, but White's Bishop, even though under attack, is on two useful diagonals. COA Space Count is a useful measure, but you must add Vulnerability of the squares a Piece would land on to get a dynamic assessment. Remember, Vulnerability is about who will win the exchange. Black will be left with a Good Bishop (Bishop on opposite color to Pawns), which White will have to limit with moves like a3 + b4 or h4. I'd be inclined to give it 1/2 point now, because of the cxd4 exchange opening the a3-f8 diagonal, and that it is not currently under attack, like the Bc3, which has been crucial in White's Center strategy to this point. I would give a full point only for Bishop v. Knight, having the only (current) Good Bishop (or deduct a point for a Bad Bishop), or the Two Bishops. These are clear points. Everything else would be less than a point.

  • Rooks None of the Rooks have been moved, so it's as KW's last assessment: Black's Rd8 and White's Re1 are both active. WAIT a minute ... Actually, studying the position some more, I'd have to give Black's Rook the slight advantage, X-raying through to White's Qd1, whereas Black's Re1 only X-rays through to a protected e6-Pawn (BLACK +½). As for the other two adverse Rooks, White's Ra1 can still get to c1, while Black's Rf8 is still somewhat restricted, although it does have the bonus of being Connected to its fellow Black Rook. Now, while H&M-S don't give a Plus Point for Connected Rooks, Yasser Seirawan does put emphasis on Connecting the two Rooks, during the Opening, because of their increased strength from being able to work together, so I'll make a slight amendment to H&M-S's work and award a point for it (BLACK +1). KW sees the Mobility and 'usefulness' of White's Ra1 as having a slight edge over Black's Rf8, and I can't argue against this, so I'll, likewise, give the half-point to White (WHITE +½).Hmm. I agree with you, but I've been thinking we need to discuss the Connected Rooks somewhere, and maybe here is a good spot. Yes, Black has his Rooks connected, and White does not, we have our Queen in the way (a static assessment). But what happens (as is frequent in openings) when the Queen moves off the back rank, and then returns a couple of moves later (like in the Scandinavian ...d8 line)? The point I am making is do we add or subtract every time the Queen for tactical or strategic reasons is between the two Rooks (this is a dynamic position question)? The Queen can move like a Rook, but has greater Vulnerability and greater Mobility. I am of the opinion (ready to be corrected by any Masters or Grandmasters) that as long as there are no intervening White minor Pieces between the Rooks, or an enemy Piece interposed between the Rooks on the back rank that cannot be taken, dynamically, it is the equivalent of Connected Rooks. It's for that reason, I I would assess the Rooks as equal, with the Rd8 x-ray attack more or less offset by the Mobility of the Ra1. This exchange will tell whether the x-ray attack will succeed (which at this point, I do not think it will, therefore the pressure on the d-file is offset by the Mobility of the Ra1). You mention the increased strength of working together. Certainly working with the Queen would be good too, although you would not be able to double your Rooks on a file quickly, and if the Queen were stuck in between the Rooks, that would be a different matter.

  • Queens Black's Queen remains unprotected; White's Queen remains on the more-central, thus more-important d-file, as opposed to the Black Queen's position on one of the Flank files (though, Qc7 does apply pressure, diagonally, to one of the Center squares: e5). However, White's Queen is in a bit of a vulnerable position, with Black's Rd8 X-raying through the d4-Pawn. KW score the Queens about equal, and so will I (=)

  • Kings Neither King has been moved; both have been Castled; neither are in Weak positions, so are both equally matched (=)

  • Space COA Space Count: 6(W),10(B); COA Territorial Domination: 10(W),12(B); Unguarded Squares: 1(W g4),3(B b5,c7,h5). Black's Territorial Domination is dependent on the d4-Pawn remaining in situ. If 17. Bxd4, TD will be 11(W),9(B), while Space Count would be reduced to 10 each, with the removal of said Pawn. At present, I'll give Black about a half point advantage (BLACK +½).

  • Time To be honest, I'm not sure how to go about defining who has the Time advantage (if any), so I can't yet score for Time, here.

Summing up the Point Count pluses and minuses: White (2), Black (4). Black's currently 2+ points ahead, though there's still possible some to add for the Time element.

KW: Good analysis! I hope you can see the value of doing that after Pawn exchanges in particular. Your understanding of a position increases dramatically just going through the exercise. The only difference we might have is over the Connected Rooks issue, and that I would give the Bishops ½ instead of 1. Point Count is a means to an end and not the end itself. Whether you see it as +2 for Black or I see it as +½, Black's pressure is slightly greater than ours, and we need to be on our toes.

Moving on ...

Which pieces do I want to exchange, and which do I want to keep?: Prior to Black's recent capturing move, to d4, I'd have wanted to keep out two Bishops on the board, especially the Bc3, so it could, at some point, join in to support the e5-Pawn, while also, hopefully, contributing to an attack on Black's King, on the Kingside. However, my mind hasn't really changed from my first thought, about striking on d4, with out Bc3, first. In fact, my resolve has be strengthened with this analysis. I don't see how we can leave that Pawn on d4; nor do I see any other Piece that can tackle it, first.

If we retreat the Bishop, in order to preserve our two-Bishop strength, we'll only allow Black to increase pressure against our e5-Pawn (Rd8-d5).

So, I believe we're heading for more Exchanges. For that, we return to seeing how both side's material "matches up": Knights equalize Knights; the Bishop and Rook would have to be the next pairing, as we'd want our Queen left, when the dust settles. We have the advantage of 3-v-2 going into this, potential, trade-off.

If 17. Nxd4, then our e5-Pawn is left with 1 White unit (Re1) to defend it, with 2x Black units attacking it (Nc6+Qc7). Black would simply respond 17. ... Nxe5 and we couldn't reply with 18. Rxe5, as 18. ... Qxe5 leaves Black in a commanding position in the Center, with one Rook gone and Bc3 still in a perilous state.

If, instead, 17. Bxd4 Nxd4 18. Nxd4, then Black's Rd8 cannot capture, else be lost to our Queen (e.g. 18. ... Rxd4 19. Qxd4). Instead, with the two adverse light-Bishops exposed to each other, I'd expect 18. ... Bxg2, with our King having to clear up (19. Kxg2).

We'd also have to contend with the prospect of Qc7 to c3, Forking our two Rooks! But, again, I don't see we have much of a choice, as things stand.KW: I would be more concerned if it were a Bishop on c3 than the Queen, as 2 Rooks are close in value to a Queen if exchanged.

Which side of the board should I play on?: With our Advanced Pawn (e5), providing we can maintain its position, I think we'd be best suited to attacking on the Kingside. But, we'll need to get Pawns up to support e5, so our Pieces can move with greater freedom, as necessary. KW:Or else exchange the e5 Pawn for some sort of advantage.

What is my dream position, "If I were allowed to make several moves in a row, what would they be"?: Qc2,Bd2,a3,h4,Rc1,Nxd4. KW:Yes! Isn't that a good exercise, as it also suggests Candidate Moves?

Preliminaries done. Now we examine Black's last move and determine what our Candidate Move(s) should be.

What does my opponent want to do?: Cut off our Pieces from assisting our e5-Pawn; secure d4 and claim Control of it. Both would see Black claim overall Center Control (3-1), with limited scope from White to wrestle back some sort of shared Control. We'd then be forced to play along the Flanks, which would restrict our opportunities, while slowing our mobility around the board.

Can I take a step in the right direction?: Get rid of Black's d4-Pawn.

Candidate Moves. Which moves are worth taking a look at?: Call me one-dimensional, but, on this occasion, I don't really think we have more than one true option, and that's Bxd4.


OK, so I agree that Bxd4 may be the best move, but I need to explore Nxd4 a little more, especially as after your (and my) analysis there may be some potential in the move order to gain an advantage with this move. Where do I see this? Well, you note that the Pawn on b5 is unprotected, and the Queen on b7 is unprotected. If our Knight were on d4, guess what 2 of its next moves could be? Nxb5 and Nxc7! As well, it would attack a7. I also note that if my Knight is on b5, the Queen cannot move to d6 or it will be taken by the Knight, although it could move to b8 to be on the diagonal. Having these three factor while gaining a Pawn is sufficient for me to want to take a closer look. The positional considerations can help determine tactical possibilities. Please indulge me while I see if there is anything I can see there to gain an advantage (along with a quick assessment). You will need to walk this through on a chess board, as to make diagrams of all this will increase the time to respond exponentially. I am doing it from the diagram for move 16 above (good practice for visualizing during an OTB game, and for the wet noodle inside!). This is the kind of stuff I do when MY clock is running!

17. Nxd4 Nxe5 and now:

  1. 18. Nxb5 Rxd1 19.Nxc7 Rxe1+ 20. Rxe1 Nf3+ 21. Bxf3 Bxf3 and White cannot retake the Bishop. Summing up the exchanged pieces: 1 pawn each (b5, e5); 1 Queen each (c7, d1); 1 Rook each (Rd8-d1-f1, Re1); 1 Black Knight(Nc6-e5-f3) v. 1 White Bishop (Bg2-f3). Black retains the 2 Bishops v. Bishop and Knight; Black has a 4 v 3 Pawn majority on Kingside v. White's 2 v. 1 on Queenside. The Queenside majority will be easier to mobilize. This is true in all the lines where Nxb5 occurs. White's King is OK (especially after an h4 move), as is Black's King. Black's Bf3 is offset by White's Bc3 attacking the Black Kingside. Approximately an equal position.
  2. 18. Nxb5 Bxg2 19. Nxc7 Rxd1 20. Kxg2 and the King and Rooks are safe enough, and the King protects f3 from the Ne4.
  3. 18. Nxb5 Qb8 19. Qe2 and White is safe, wins a pawn. Black would not play this line.
  4. 18. Nxb5 Qb6 19. Qe2 same scenario.
  5. 18. Nxb5 Qd7 19. Qxd7 Rxd7 20. RxNe5 Not a good line for Black.
  6. 18. Nxb5 Qd7 19. Qxd7 Nxd7 20. Rad1 a6 21. Nd6 and Black's Pieces are not very coordinated, White will exchange Knight for Bishop. Balanced position.

So it looks like it is playable. But is Bxd4 better? Let's look at a few lines:

After 17. Bxd4:

17 ... Nxe5 18. Bxe5 does not seem appealing for Black, as Black loses Knight for Pawn, and the Queen is forced to move, or: 18 ... Bd6 19. Bxd6 Qxd6 20. Qxd6 Rxd6 21. Ne5!? Bxg2 22. Kxg2 with a clear advantage for White.

17 ... Nxd4 18. Nxd4 The question becomes, what will Black do next? 18 ... Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Qb7+ is one possibility. This is a natural move sequence.

  1. 20. Qf3 breaks the pin and would seem to put some pressure on the unprotected Black Queen and the b5 pawn from the Nd4. But after 20... Qxf3+ 21. Kxf3 Rxd4 Black is up a Knight. Not a good line for White. So if the Queen can't defend it, the only other way is to move the King. Sep 4 - GW: There isn't actually a Pin after 19. ... Qb7+, so 20. Qf3 just blocks the Check on the White King. It could, then, go: 20. ... Qxf3+ 21. Nxf3, so as not to leave our Knight En Prise, while also capturing the Black Queen.
  2. 20. f3 does stop the check, but opens up the 2nd rank for attacking the king.
  3. 20. Kh3 gets the King out of immediate danger, but I don't like the fact that the h pawn is now blocked. If it were on h4, then I would have no hesitation of moving the King here.
  4. 20. Kg1 Protects Qh1+. Initiative has moved to Black. 20 ... Bc5 double attacks Nd4, who is pinned because of the Queen. This line bothers me. The Queen has moved off the c-file so I can't pin the Bishop with Rc1. I can't seem to find a good reply. Can you, GW? Sep 4 - GW: Erm, no, I can't. As you say, the trouble lies with our Queen being in line of Black's Rook, currently Pinning our Nd4; while, the double-whammy is Black's Queen having shifted off the c-file, so we can't 'counter-Pin', e.g. Qd1-c2. Shame. Nasty line for White to deal with, so let's not give Black the opportunity to take us there! 21. Re4 loses the Rook, 21. b4 just invites the taking of Bxd4 and White won't retake. Nothing else seems to be able to protect d4. We have gained e5, but lost a Knight, unless I am missing something, or we can make a move earlier that would be better. Making that Bxg2 move opens up b7 for the Queen. Unless we can come up with a way to avoid this line, I think we would be better with 17. Nxe4. When you recommended 17. Bxd4, did you see a way around this problem? Sep 4 - GW: No, I didn't get this far; my sole focus was kept on maintaining adequate protected for our e5-Pawn. I stopped my analysis a move or so too early. Guilty as charged!
  5. 20. Kf1 Doesn't protect Qh1+. Could then lose h pawn to Black's Queen.

Let's look if Black follows the same line in the 17. Nxe4 line:

  1. 17. Nxd4 Nxd4 18. Bxd4 Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Qb7+ 20. Kg1 Bc5. We could take the Bishop in this variation, and Black takes the Queen. But since the Bishop is now on c5, it attacks the Rf8. So let's follow this a little longer.
  2. 21. Bxc5 Rxd1 22. Rexd1 Rc8 (or Re8) 23. Bd6! While White has lost the exchange (Queen for Bishop and Rook, about a pawn's difference), he has gained a valuable Outpost for his Bishop, he has 2 Rooks that will dominate the d and c files, the pawn structure is balanced on each side of the board, and the exchanges has limited what Black can do. White will try to move a Rook to c7 to wreak havoc. It's not an ideal position, but it is defensible. On move 22, we take with Re1xd1 because our e5 pawn is no longer under attack, and we may be able to have Rooks on both the c and d file. For the Pawn difference in the exchange, I would count about 2 points for White (the Outpost, and at least control of one open file), so we would be about 1 Point down, or a slight advantage for Black.
So, that's my proposed move: 17. Bxd4.

KW: GW, I await your analysis. If you have something better (or an altogether different line we haven't looked at), I would love to see it. If not, then I think we should still move 17. Nxd4, as it seems the best to me. But I will wait for your response. In the meantime, I will see if there is anything else we can do besides these two moves (17. Bxd4 or 17. Nxd4).

Sep 4 - GW: No, I have to back down on my initial enthusiasm for 17. Bxd4. My whole analysis was blinded by the thought of having to keep the e5-Pawn protected, come what may. As a result, I closed my mind to the option of letting it get captured and, therefore, didn't pursue alternative lines, hypothetically, following the possibility of 17. Nxd4. Furthermore, I didn't thoroughly analyse the lines after 17. Bxd4. I stopped just at the point of the Queen, potentially moving to b7, following the exchange of light-Bishops, with our King ending on g2.

Selected Move: 17. Nxd4

17. Nxd4 Nxd4
GW: (Proposed Move: 18. Bxd4)
Reasoning: The line I'm thinking of is 18. Bxd4 Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Qb7+ 20. Kg1 ... and we're facing that Queen on b7 scenario. Our problem seems to be twofold: the vulnerability of our Queen, due to Black's Rd8, plus the vulnerability of our Bd4 if we attempt to move our Queen off the d-file. One salvage option might be to move our Queen to d2, then f4, to break the Pin, while keeping up the protection of our Bd4. After that, we may be able to remove the Bishop from the threat posed by Rd8.

This line above now seems our best bet for equality in material, but a difficult position for White.

  • If 20...Bc5 21. Bxc5 Rxd1 22. Rexd1 and Black has a Queen for Rook and Bishop (White is about a Pawn behind), but with active play, and the Rf8 must move. White will move Bd6 and Rc1 with fair chances. His King is still safe.

Because of the multitude of variations starting above and to follow on this move, I have put them all in ChessFlash for easier following for anyone reading (and for ourselves). What I consider the main variations are in bold or listed first.


18. Bxd4 Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Qb7+ 20. Qf3 ... but, then we lose our Bd4: 20. ... Qxf3 21. Kxf3 Rxd4, with Black in a commanding position and up a Bishop.

What if we didn't recapture (besides being down a Knight, which is probably inadvisable against Fritz?) ...(This comment lead to my analysis of 18. Ba5)

We'd have to make a move that protected the Bishop, from an immediate Qxc3, while not putting out Queen on either c2, e2, or f3, while Nd4 remains present:

Sept. 5- KW: Exactly. We would also need to remember that if we do not take, we would be behind a Knight.
  • 18. Qd2

    18. ... Nf3+ and what a mess! First, Black's Knight strikes with a Grand Fork, as it takes in our King, Queen and a Rook, all in one go! Secondly, this is a Discovered Attack, with Black's Knight moving to dis-cover the attack from Rd8 onto our Qd2. We'd have no choice but to capture Black's Knight (19. Bxf3) and lose the Queen, unless a swift Resignation would be favorable!

    18. ... Bxg2. I must admit, I hadn't played the Nd4-f3 option, when I listed this second possible Black move. It all seems a bit of a non-event, now. After the Bishop's captured on g2, it'd most likely end up with the same Black-Queen-on-b7 scenario: 19. Kxg2 Qb7+ 20. Kg1 ... actually, no, we'd be back to the Grand Fork sucker-punch, again: 20. ... Nf3+.

    18...Bxg2 19. Rc1 Qb7 and now we cannot even the exchange by taking the Bg2, and Black has the Two Bishops.

    NO to 18. Qd2.

  • 18. Qd3

    18. ... Nf3+ hits us with just an Absolute Fork Attack, but it's still devastating enough to force us into capturing the Knight and losing the Queen, either with 19. Qxf3 Bxf3 20. Bxf3; or, 19. Bxf3 Rxd3 and then decide whether to trade light-Bishops, or save ours to g4 ... but, that still allows Black's Queen to get on the a8-h1 diagonal ... Actually, we'd have no option but to capture the Bishop (20. Bxb7), as 20. Bg4 Qc7 21. Bf3 Qxf3 and our game will likely end very soon afterwards!

    NO to 18. Qd3.

  • 18. Re3

    18. ... Nf3+ and we face losing the Queen, again!

    NO to 18. Re3.

KW: Let's look at one more option: 18. Ba5!?. One of the ways Tal played, that I mentioned in the 2 Point Principles was to look at all the forcing moves. I do not know if this will go anywhere or not at this point, but let's discuss this too.

We are still behind a Knight in exchanges, so whatever we do must either recover the Knight, or guarantee us victory (for a Knight, I will accept nothing less!). With the Bishop on a5, Black has both Queen and Rook on the same diagonal. The Queen is a strong point in Black's position, but she may be overworked. Right now she is attacking on the c file, attacking e5, defending Bb7 and Rd8, and indirectly protecting a7. That's a lot for one Piece. This line at least gives us more options to look at, if nothing else.

18. Ba5 and now:
  1. 18...Bxg2 19. Bxc7 Nf3+ 20. Qxf3 Bxf3 21. Bxd8 Rxd8. We have exchanged our 2 Bishops and Queen for Knight, Rook, and Queen. Black has the 2 Bishops for a Rook, and is up the exchange. Not the best line for White. GW - without looking at your other lines, I had a look at the possibility of: 18...Bxg2 I missed seeing the significance of this line! Good catch!19. Bxc7 Nf3+ 20. Kxg2 Rxd1 21. Rexd1 Nxe5? [Ng5 is better, as Black does not exchange the Knight for a Pawn, increasing his deficit; this move also anticipates 22...Ne4, protecting d6.] 22. Bxe5. Again, we're slightly ahead by a Bishop [We are ahead by a Rook v. Pawn with a theoretically won game.] for Black's extra KS Pawn. Somehow, I can't see Fritz calculating this to be acceptable ... especially when 18. ... Qxa5 19. Bxb7 Bb4 20. Re4 Nf3+ 21. Kg2 Rxd1 22. Rxd1 Ng5 leaves Black with an extra Knight, while having a Q+R+B v. White's R+R+B - You need to learn to count all the pieces difference for both sides - a common failing of players starting out. There is no sense leaving out the Bishops if you are including the Rooks in your count. You just make yourself more confused. Better to say "Black is up Queen and Knight v. Rook." .
  2. 18...Bxg2 19. Bxc7 Nc6 (or Nf5) 20. Bxd8 Rxd8 21. Qxd8+ N or Bxd8 22. Kxg2 White exchanged 2 Bishops and Queen for Bishop, 2 Rooks and Queen. White wins the exchange. While I am not checking out every line (I'm not Fritz!), it looks like the Bxg2 line loses for Black in general. GW - Nope, can't see this happening, either.
  3. 18...Qxa5 (the most obvious move) 19. Bxb7 Nf3+ 20. Qxf3 Material is now equal and White has moved his Queen out of danger, and onto the Kingside. The Bb7 will move back to e4 (since e5 is no longer under attack) and assist with Kingside attack. GW - I'd expect 20. ... Rd2, to get a "Pig on the 7th", and a +Point from H&M-S. We're, then, facing infiltration on the Queenside, e.g. 21. Red1 Rxa2 22. Rd7 Rxa1+ 23. Kg2. Though, if 21. Red1 (Better is 21. Re2 Rxe2 22. Qxe2or if 21. Re2 Rxa2?? 22. Rexa2 winning easily.) Rxa2 22. Rxa2 Qxa2 23. Kg2 Rd8 24. Rxd8+ Bxd8 25. Qc3,(Better is 25. Qc6! threatening mate next move as well as capturing on b5, or Black will have to weaken his Kingside.) we're a little better off, albeit a Pawn down (on the Queenside).
  4. 18...Qxa5 19. Bxb7 Bb4 20. Re4 Qb6 21. Rxd4 Qxb7 22. Rxd8 Rxd8 23. Qxd8+ and Black must interpose, White will activate the QR, with good chances. White exchanges 2 Bishops and Rook for Knight and 2 Rooks. White is up in material by Rook for Bishop. And because he has not had to move his King, he has saved at least one tempo. GW - I'll have to come back to this one, after looking at your other lines, as I'm struggling to see how Black would triumph with this line - hence, it'd be good for us, but I'm not sure Fritz would calculate this to be an acceptable route.This is a "flow of consciousness" kind of move. I am listing all moves I was thinking of. When I get to one that looks too good to be true, I go back to an earlier point and see if my opponent can do something nastier against me!
  5. 18...Qxa5 19. Bxb7 Bb4 (Probably best for Black is Qc7! 20. Bg2 (Rc1 Qxb7)Nc2 with a decisive advantage.)20. Re4 Qb6 21. Rxd4 Qxd4 (Even better for Black is Rxd4! 22. Qf3 and White is lost, being a Rook down.)22. Qxd4 Rxd4 23. Bg2 and White has exchanged Bishop, Rook and Queen for Bishop, (Knight) and Queen. Black wins the exchange. Anytime Knight is exchanged, it just equalizes prior exchanges. GW - Ah, this might be how Black would avoid the problems from the previous line! ... I don't suppose Fritz would allow 21. Qh5 Nc2 (Fritz would probably choose Nf5 over this, preventing your next move.)22. Rh4 or 21. Qh5 g6 (Fritz might only make this move if a Bishop were on e4, otherwise Nf5 is enough.)22. Qh6 Bc3 (Be7 is more likely) 23. Rh4? No way! Because of the improvements I have found in Black's moves, and because this is a critical variation, I believe we will have to abandon 18. Ba5.
  6. 18...Qxa5 19. Bxb7 Bb4 20. Re4 Qb6 21. Be4 GW - Bleary-eyed time, eh? [:D GRINS] Not quite sure how 20. Re4 and 21. Be4 would work together!.Wouldn't the moves of both a Bishop and a Rook make a Queen? I always like to play with 2 Queens on the board! Seriously, though, I cannot figure out where I was going with this! White is still behind a Knight, so what's the point? Well, he has exchanged Bishops but no longer has an immediate threat on a8-h1 diagonal, his Be4 is much better placed, and the Black Queen is off her best square of c7. White's Queen could move next move to 22. Qd3, threatening b5, and Bxh7+, as well as protecting f3, e2, c2 from attack. Following that up with 23. Rad1 will decide what happens with Black's Nd4. Black is up the exchange, but he has problems. Is it enough? It's unclear. Maybe, maybe not. I think the word is in. It is not enough.

Doesn't look like we've much choice; 18. Bxd4 is my proposed move.

KW: My head hurts from all these variations. Would you take a look at these 18. Ba5!? lines? Is there something major I am missing? To me, it looks promising and is a more interesting line, but in some lines that Fritz would catch, Black would come out slightly ahead, at least by my current calculations. Is this any better than Bxd4? Your eyes may see things mine are not, because they are blurry. 18. Ba5!? is full of tactics if you want to go this way, and we will maintain the initiative for a while. 18. bxd4 equalizes the exchange of the Knight, but we will will lose the initiative for several moves. As is often in chess, we have a fork in the road. In the immortal words of baseball catcher Yogi Berra, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it!" Do you have a preference? Then let's play that. (Maybe post-mortem we could look at what Fritz was thinking here of these two options?)

Sep 7 - GW: My initial 18. Bxd4 proposal, 18. Bxd4 Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Qb7+ 20. Kg1, saw us equalize material, but with Black's Queen left on b7, restricting the Mobility of our King, which is preferable to my 'alternative' 18. Bxd4 line, 18. Bxd4 Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Qb7+ 20. Qf3 Qxf3 21. Kxf3 Rxd4, which would leave Black with an extra Bishop.

Looking at KW's 18. Ba5 suggestion, I like the potential of two lines: #3 and #5, respectively (especially the latter, if we could, um, convince Fritz to let our Queen and a Rook high up the h-file!)

I'd like to bat this back to KW, to see if this has sparked anything that'd make our decision clearer. At the moment, I'm about 60:40 for playing 18. Ba5.

Sept. 7 - KW: Based on the 5th variation of the 18. Ba5 line, I can no longer recommend the entire variation. I am 100% certain. Therefore, I propose we move 18. Bxd4.

Selected Move: 18. Bxd4

18. Bxd4 Bxg2
GW: (Proposed Move: 19. Kxg2)
Reasoning: See indepth reasoning at the beginning of our 17th Move proposal. This is the line KW thinks would give us the best chance of staying in touch with Black: 18. Bxd4 Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Qb7+ 20. Kg1 Bc5 21. Bxc5 Rxd1 22. Rexd1

Sept 8 -KW: In for a penny, in for a pound. Our next move: 19.Kxg2.

Selected Move: 19.Kxg2

19. Kxg2 Bc5
GW: (Proposed Move: 20. Qc2)
Reasoning: Wasn't expecting Black's Bishop to move! A good opportunity to get our Queen out of the awkward position? Let's take a look ...

20. Qc2
  • 20. Qc2 Bxd4 21. Qxc7 Bxa1 22. Qxa7 Bd4 23. Qb7

  • 20. Qc2 Qb7+ 21. Kg1 Bxd4 22. Rd1 Rc8 23. Qe4 Qxe4 24. Rxe4 Rfd8 25. Kg2 That last move gets the King off the dark-squares, meaning we don't have to worry about our King and Black's Bishop. With the King no longer on a line with the Bishop, our f-Pawn can hopefully advance to help defend our e5-Pawn ... that is, unless Black chooses to make use of his/its extra piece and capture our f-Pawn, leaving Black with a Pawn Majority on the Kingside.

What if, instead:

20. Rc1
  • 20. Rc1 Qb7+ 21. Kg1 Bxd4 22. Qc2 Bxe5 23. Rxe5 and Black's still emerges with the Kingside Pawn Majority, but also keeps the Queen, for the time being. I'd expect Black to go all-out for trading pieces to capitalize on that extra Pawn.

  • 20. Rc1 Qb7+ 21. Kg1 Bxd4 22. Qh5 Bxe5 23. Qxe5 Rd2 24. Rc7 Qf3 25. Rxa7 Qxf2+ 26. Kh1 Qg2# 0-1 Um, let's not, eh?! Right!

I'll go with 20. Qc2, as my proposed move.

Sept 9 - KW: OK, I looked at your suggestions and tried to come up with better responses for Black.

19. Kxg2 Bc5 and now:

  • 20.Qc2?! Rxd4! and White is a Bishop down. If Black does not find this move (Hah!) the following are the other lines.
    • 20...Bxd4 21.Qxc7 Bxa1
      • 22. Qxa7 Bd4 23. Qb7 GW's suggestion 1., White is up Queen and Pawn v. Rook and Bishop.
      • 22.Rxa1 The simplest, keeping the greatest amount of material advantage. White is up a Queen v. a Rook. Anytime I can gain a minor piece, that's a good thing.
    • 20...Qb7+ 21.Kg1 Bxd4 22.Rad1 Rc8 23.Qe4 Qxe4 24.Rxe4 Rfd8 25.Kg2 GW's suggestion 2.
      • 25... Bxe5 26. Rxd8+ Rxd8 27. Rxe5. This is the line we should follow if we go down this variation. White is "only" a Pawn down, but with good chances of counterplay.
      • 25... Bxe5 26. Rxe5 Rxd1 Black is a Rook and Pawn up.
      • Instead, 25. Rexd4 Rxd4 26. Rxd4 Rc1+ 27. Kg2. Material is even, and Black must prevent a back row mate. This is the best line in the Qc2 line.
  • 20. Rc1 I do not recommend this line.
    • 20...Qb7+ 21. Kg1 Bxd4 GW's suggested line in this variation.
      • 22. Qc2 Bxe5 (or ...Rc8!) Rxe5. Black will not play Bxe5, as he would lose his Bishop advantage. After the exchange, he would only be a Pawn up.
    • Black will not play 20...Rxd4?! 21. Qxd4 Bxd4 22. Rxc7.
  • 20. Re4 Another major line worthy of consideration.
    • 20...Qb7
      • 21. f3!? Bxd4 22. Rxd4 Rxd4 23. Qxd4 Rc8 24. Qd3. Followed by Rd1. Material is even, and Black must be careful of a back row mate.
      • 21. Qd3? Bxd4 and White is lost.
      • 21. Kf3? Bxd4 and again White is lost.
    • 20...Qc6 21. f3 Rd5 22. Rc1
      • 22...Rfd8 23. b4! with complications, but creates major difficulties for Black.
      • 22...Qb6 23. Rxc5. Leads to a simplification of the position with good chances for White.
    • 20...Bxd4 21. Rxd4 Rxd4 22. Qxd4 Qxb7+ 23. Kg1 Rc8 24. Rd1, The White King is safe, the material is equal, and Black must guard against a back row mate. White controls every square in the Center, and the Queen is centralized.

The problem with the Rc1 and the Qc2 lines is that they forfeit the Bd4. The only way to balance the scales is to defend d4. The only Piece at the moment that can do that is the Rook. The Rook will be on a diagonal with the King, so it is dangerous, but f3!? should do the job. It does open the Kingside up for Black's heavy Pieces, but if played right, it should be safe enough. White will have to watch that if the King moves, the f3 Pawn is still protected. Therefore, I recommend Re4.

Selected Move: 20. Re4

20. Re4 Qc6
GW: (Proposed Move: 21. )
Reasoning: Okay, the most obvious line to look at is KW's suggestion of f2-f3, to guard the Rook ...

  • 21. f3
    • 21. ... Re4 22. Rc1 Rfd8 with Black's Battery a strong presence on the d-file, especially with the Queen in support.
    • 21. ... Bxd4 22. Rxd4 Rxd4 23. Qxd4 Qc2+, Bishop for Bishop, Rook for Rook exchanged, but Black's Queen in a more threatening position in White's territory. Black emerges with the initiative, right?
    • 21. ... Qd5
      • 22. Bxc5 Qxc5 23. Qc1 Rd5 24. Qxc5 Rxc5 25. Rd1 Rc2+
        • 26. Kh3 h6, else White's potential Battery on the d-file could threaten a Back Rank Mate. With 26. ... h6, Black gains luft for the King, enabling an escape, so Black's two Rooks can better turn their attentions to attacking White's 2nd Rank vulnerabilities.
        • 26. Kh1 h6, with White's King unhindering the potential clash of the Kingside Pawns. I'd probably choose this over Kh3, if forced to pick a way to send the King.
      • 22. Rc1 Rc8 and, to be honest, I get to this point and my mind begins to stutter as to the best course of action.
There is another option, but I only loosely say that, as almost immediately I think I can spot impending troubles for White ...
  • 21. Qd3 Rxd4 and Black gets an early Christmas in the Center. I just wanted to at least look at an alternative to f2-f3. But, despite not having total conviction going a few moves ahead, I still see our next best move as being 21. f3.
So, that's my proposed move, 21. f3.

Sept 12 - KW: The only move in this position is f3. Let's move f3.

Selected Move: 21. f3

21. f3 Qb6
GW: (Proposed Move: 22. )
Reasoning: First. Okay, wasn't expecting Qb6. With the Q+B Battery, I'd have to say it's effectively 3-v-2 to Black against d4 and our vulnerable dark-Bishop on it.

KW's done well to get us this far against Fritz, playing at an Optimized Depth Level 50. However, unless we can break or bend the rules (one of my pet annoyances with chess - there's no sneaky tricks one can pull; it's all got to be logically legal!) and get our QR and Q to defend Bd4 at the same time, I think we may be on the slippery slope to losing this game. One of the lines I've looked at is:
  • 22. Qg1 to try and keep the Queen on d4, while clearing room for our QR to get across. Unfortunately ...
    • 22. ... Bxd4 23. Rxd4 Rxd4 24. Rd1 Rfd8 and not only is Black a Rook up, but has a Rook Battery along d-file. We're pretty much toast from here.Sept 13 - KW: Burnt toast at that!
What if, instead:
  • 22. Rc1
    • 22. ... Bxd4 23. Qc2, then we're only a Bishop down, with a Q-R Battery along the c-file. It keeps us in the hunt better than 22. Qg1 While I like the Rook on c1, it really isn't going to help us in the long run. The battery is a good idea, but there is no chance of equality in this line.
So, my scant contribution - and proposed move - is 22. Rc1

KW: Alright, we are not dead yet, though we are in a gunfight and bullets are flying all around and we are surrounded. Let's see if we can go out fighting with guns blazing (sort of like the last scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).

In the spirit of Tal - looking at every check and capture (especially when you are in trouble), let's look at 22. Bxc5:

  • 22...Qxc5 23. Qe2 - Here White must go to a square that controls c2 (because of the threat of Qc2+) and d2 (threat of Rd2+). The advantage of this move is that it also attacks b5, making any Queen move on move 23 less likely. In this variation White has broken the pin and has come out equal in material. If Black chooses this variation, this would be a good spot for us to stop the game. White Controls e4 and e5, Black controls d4 and d5.
  • 22...Rxd1 The more likely continuation.
    • 23. Rxd1? Qxc5 And Black is up Queen and Rook for 2 Rooks, and its all over.
    • 23. Bxb6
      • 23...Rxa1 24. Bxa7 Rxa2+ 25. Bf2 And Black is up Rook for Bishop. This is the most likely continuation, where we should resign.
      • 23...Rd2+ Bf2. I can't see Black playing this, as it leaves White up a Bishop.

This is the only line I can see where we have a shot at equality, so I recommend we move 22. Bxc5!?

Selected Move: 22. Bxc5

22. Bxc5 Rxd1
GW: (Proposed Move: 23. Bxb6)
Reasoning: I can't refute KW's analysis (above). We'll see how much of the following line plays out: 23. Bxb6 Rxa1 24. Bxa7 Rxa2+ 25. Bf2

Selected Move: 23. Bxb6

23. Bxb6 Rxa1
GW: (Proposed Move: 24. Bxa7)
Reasoning: Continuing 23. Bxb6 Rxa1 24. Bxa7 Rxa2+ 25. Bf2.

Selected Move: 24. Bxa7

24. Bxa7 Rxa2+
GW: (Proposed Move: 25. Bf2)
Reasoning: Continuing 23. Bxb6 Rxa1 24. Bxa7 Rxa2+ 25. Bf2.

Selected Move: 25. Bf2

25. Bf2
GW: (Proposed Move: RESIGN. 0-1)
Reasoning: The final few moves went the same way KW predicted (23. Bxb6 Rxa1 24. Bxa7 Rxa2+ 25. Bf2), and I feel we've explored enough of this game (there's plenty still to learn and a new format/system to evaluate!). Rather appropriately, Rainbow's "I Surrender" is playing on the radio (Planet Rock)!

Sept 16- KW: Agreed. Let's each prepare a post-mortem, then we'll move on. A very instructive game from a number of angles! Note that in this position, White actually Controls 3 of the 4 Center squares, and occupies 2! We've achieved our goal of Center Domination! It just goes to show that Control of the Center, while extremely important, cannot be taken in isolation from other aspects of the game.
Post-mortem by Ken Wilsdon

First, I am surprised at how many moves we managed to get in before Fritz caused us to resign. To have him on the highest setting was challenging, to say the least.

One of the first things we saw in this game is that our first four moves put us in a good position for the middle game. At move 5, we discussed "How to Develop a Plan" at my comments on July 7, which I believe is a good way to proceed in ANY variation of ANY opening when you either come to the end of your opening moves (as we did with the Barcza), or when your opponent plays a move outside of your repertoire (when they play a move independent of the lines you have learned). We chose the King's Indian Attack, which I believe to be a solid attack. We should have done the same thing on move 7.

As Graham compares his moves to mine, I will compare mine to the chess engines, which are the closest thing we have to an International Master or Grandmaster to critique our moves. I recently obtained an Ipad2, and have purchased several chess programs, and I will use two in the analysis below. As Shredder and Hiarcs both have defeated Masters and even Grandmasters before, I believe that in a post-mortem it is helpful to use them to see other lines that should have been played. I have run both GM level programs through our game, and they provide many interesting plans at various moves that are very instructive for me, and for any developing player.

With my admittedly limited experience with the KIA, I have not been exposed to the Spassky Variation, and this threw me for a loop. But I figured that the KIA could handle it, which according to the databases, it should be able to do.

So how did I do, compared to the GM level programs? I will not count the first 6 moves, as they are consistent with the KIA. All other moves I will consider as mine.(I will put it into a format similar to Graham's for consistency)
  • Move 7. KW: Re1..[x] GW: You should add one to your score, you said e4, and you were right.
  • Move 8. KW: b3...[x]
  • Move 9. KW: Bb2..[x]
  • Move 10. KW: e4...[x]
  • Move 11. KW: e5...[x]
  • Move 12. KW: Ne4..[1]
  • Move 13. KW: c4...[1]
  • Move 14. KW: Nxc3.[1]
  • Move 15. KW: Bxc3.[1]
  • Move 16. KW: d4...[x] GW: You were on the right track moving the Queen, just d2 was not the best. Qc2 or Qe2 would have put you in line with the programs.
  • Move 17. KW: Nxd4.[x]
  • Move 18. KW: Bxd4.[1]
  • Move 19. KW: Kxg2.[1]
  • Move 20. KW: Re4..[1]
  • Move 21. KW: f3...[1]
  • Move 22. KW: Bxc5.[1]
  • Move 23. KW: Bxb6.[1]
  • Move 24. KW: Bxa7.[1]
  • Move 25. KW: Bf2..[1] 0-1

My score: 12 out of 19 for about 63 percent.

I did not evaluate moves 7-11 well, and that could be because I am not familiar enough with typical move orders or themes in the KIA. Move 16 and 17 cost us the game.

  • My first minor mistake was in my calculations for move 7 on July 12th. Apparently, the move e4 will not cause the calamity I envisioned. While Re1 is used in KIA formations, it was not needed here.
  • Move 8, b3, was as a follow-up to my misguided thinking for move 7. I personally prefer the e4 line that Hiarcs gives over the Shredder line above.
  • My move 9 Bb2 was a follow-up to previous thinking. Shredder's c4 line puts us into Reti territory, with an early solid position. The line ends with us having an isolated b-pawn, but with compensation as far as good access to the Center and attacking chances on the Kingside.
  • Move 10 e4 was not the best move. Moving us to a Reti with c4 would have changed the complexion of the game, but would have been more positionally justified. I wanted to play a KIA, but the Reti would have been better. The c4 line of Hiarcs puts us in a better position with our pawns than in the previous move's line with Shredder. This would have been a good route, if I had not been so focused on the KIA, which generally says "attack the Kingside,and make Queenside moves only when necessary." It was necessary and prudent here, and I missed it.
  • Move 11 e5 was not the best. Shredder's a4 line would have us control a half-open c-file attacking a hanging phalanx, and the ability to launch a Kingside attack. Much better line than going the typical e5 route of the KIA in this position.
  • Move 16 cost us the game. I personally do not like the Qc2 line of Hiarcs. I think the Qe2 line of Shredder is best here, and will give White a good game with Kingside attacking chances.
  • I did not even consider Hiarc's move Bd2, which would correct slightly for my mistake on move 16. While the Queen would face problems in that variation at the end (after Qe3 Nc2) it still might have been better. After the move we made, everything was pretty much forced, as shown in my analysis.
Personally, I learned a couple of things from this game. While the first 4-7 moves can be made almost automatically, if I play the Barcza, I should play through and review both Reti and KIA games elsewhere to get a better feel for what the possibilities are after the initial moves during the transition from selecting an opening to the middlegame. It wouldn't hurt to become familiar with some of the main lines a little more. I need to stick to a repertoire like the Barcza, and learn it well. I like the delayed attack of the Center. I just need to learn when to open it up better (16. d4 was not the way!). And I also learned I need to let go of preconceived notions (like concentrate only on the Kingside in the KIA). I was generally happy with my analysis, but it could have been better at crucial junctions in the game.
Post-mortem by Graham Wadden

First thing I got out of it was learning about the King's Indian Attack. I think this is a brilliant Opening system for beginners to learn, so they can get used to developing efficiently, for at least 6-7 moves, without having to worry about losing pieces, or making the 'wrong' move. Once up to speed with understanding the elements covered in Point Count Chess, plus further analysis questions made by KW, then they can begin exploring games using different Openings.

Second thing is the unexpected, but very appropriate, ending of this game, which shows White not only Occupying the Center; not only Controlling the Center; and not only Dominating the Center ... but also how, despite having this "Advantage", it can count for naught, if your opponent's threats combine to be more commanding.

How did I do in this game, in proposing the same move that KW saw as the move to make?

We had 25 moves in total, but I can't claim to have analyzed fully for all of them. First, I have to discount the Opening moves of the KIA, since, as I even confess, they could - and were - done, more-or-less, on "auto pilot".

So, that's 7 moves of the KIA discounted. Also, the last three moves, 23-25, were a possible line predicted by KW, during analysis for Move 22.

Also, I noticed KW pointed out 21. f3, during analysis for our 20th Move, so I can't count that, either.

That leaves just 14 moves to base this performance assessment on ...
  • Move 8 ... GW: 8. b3; KW: 8. b3. [1]
  • Move 9 ... GW: 9. Bb2; KW: 9. Bb2. [1]
  • Move 10 ... GW: 10. e4; KW: 10. e4. [1]
  • Move 11 ... GW: 11. e5; KW: 11. e5. [1]
  • Move 12 ... GW: 12. Ne4; KW: 12. Ne4. [1]
  • Move 13 ... GW: 13. h4; KW: 13. c4. [x]
  • Move 14 ... GW: 14. Nxc3; KW: 14. Nxc3. [1]
  • Move 15 ... GW: 15. Bxc3; KW: 15. Bxc3. [1]
  • Move 16 ... GW: 16. Qd2; KW: 16. d4. [x]
  • Move 17 ... GW: 17. Bxd4; KW: 17. Nxd4. [x]
  • Move 18 ... GW: 18. Bxd4; KW: 18. Bxd4. [1]
  • Move 19 ... GW: 19. Kxg2; KW: 19. Kxg2. [1]
  • Move 20 ... GW: 20. Qc2; KW: 20. Re4. [x]
  • Move 21 ... GW: 21. f3; KW: 21. f3. [x]
  • Move 22 ... GW: 22. Rc1; KW: 22. Bxc5. [x]
9/14 (64%) correct. ... Room for improvement, then!

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