GW-KW, Point Count Chess Raw Discussion, File #8:
Part of the Advanced Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 2)

# Game 3, GW-KW v. Fritz 12 (Level 5), for Control of the Center[June 21st-23rd 2011]

Commentary

RECENT MOVES: 15. Nfd2 Nf6

(GW, June 21st) PROPOSED MOVE: 16. Nb3

Reasoning: Nothing much has changed over on the Queenside; it's probably best to get our Knight onto b3, before Black gets to attack that square with Nc6-a5. We could then, potentially move our b1-Knight across onto d2, to give us Small Center Control of e4 (until Black's QN moves, freeing the QB to attack down the a8-h1 diagonal). We'd also continue to have Large Center Control of c4 and overprotection of the pawn on that square.

So, what might Black do?

• 16. Nb3 Na5 ...
Would Black accept the potential loss of the QS Knight, by 17. Nxa5 Qxa5?

Furthermore, would we be wise to accept this potential Knight Exchange, as mentioned? With our a-Pawn isolated, I'd be tempted to allow Black to be the one to capture our Knight on b3: 16. ... Na5 17. Nbd2 Nxb3 18. axb3, to unleash our QR along the a-file; to blockade Black's b-pawn with a pawn, rather than a Knight (which can then be used elsewhere, if needed); and to provide support for our c4-pawn, rather than having to tie down a piece for that job).

(KW, June 23rd) Another possible line here would be: 17. f2-f3 (threatening e4) 17. ... Na5-c6 (now the Knight is out of place and must return) 18. Nb1-d2 (supporting e4) 18. ... a7-a5 19. d4xc5 Bd6xc5 20. Nb3xc5 Qb6xc5 21. a2-a3 (attacking b4) with a good game.
• (GW, June 21st) 16. Nb3 Na5 ... (Continued ...)
But, would Black really play Na5 and expose the b7-Bishop (to our g2-Bishop)?

No, I don't think so, not with our Knight on b3 (attacking a5). See, if 16. ... Na5 17. Bxb7, Black couldn't play Qxb7 as it would leave the a5-Knight En Prise, since only the Black Queen would be present to defend any a5 occupant. The QS Knight's NOT going to move, regardless! I'll keep that in mind while looking at other possible Black replies to 16. Nb3.

(KW, June 23rd) But Black could go 17. Bxb7 Nxb7. With the Knight on b7, I think it actually strengthens Black's game somewhat, as it protects c5 and d6.

The advantage would be we have removed Black's Good Bishop and left him with his Bad Bishop. Our remaining Bishop is well suited for Center and Kingside attack.

The disadvantage is that now we are weak on the light squares, which the Queen could exploit.
• (GW, June 21st) 16. Nb3 a5 ...
This prevents Black's QS Knight from moving down the Queenside of the board. If Black did intend to move this Knight, it would then have to come at us via e7 then f5 or g6, which could give us a couple of moves to build on our improved position.

However, 16. ... a5 seems more possible for Black than 16. ... Na5, at the moment.

(KW, June 23rd) Black threatens a4. We can use that to gain control in the Center by 17. dxc5 (opening the diagonal for the QB) 17. ... Bxc5 18. Nxc5 Qxc5.

An even exchange, but the Queen has moved and the pin on Nc6 is stronger as no piece is defending Bb7. While the game is about even, for all intents and purposes, we Control the Center.
• (GW, June 21st) Nb3 Rfe8 (or Rfd8) ...
Not Rae8 as the QS Rook is probably best staying put, to match our QS Rook & a-pawn line up.

What I'm wondering is whether Black might prepare for a potential Opening of either the d- or e-file. However, I can't quite play far enough forward in my mind to give an accurate enough prediction of which might be the more likely, if at all.

(KW, June 23rd) Rfd8 is more likely, as it is on a Half-Open file.
• (GW, June 21st) Nb3 cxd4 ...
Would Black start a bloodbath around the d4 square? I'm thinking along the lines of Black already being 3 v. 1 ahead in pawns on the Queenside ...

NO ... SCRAP THAT IDEA!! While thinking it through, looking at the position, over and over, and suddenly spotted that, after 16. ... cxd4 17. c5 would Fork Black's Queen and dark Bishop, with support from our Rc1. Not going to happen.

... Neither of Black's Bishops can find stronger squares (in one move), than where they currently are, and with Black's Nc6 holding off our e-pawn advance (e3-e4) and helping to guard d5, I can't see that Knight moving for at least the next move.

So, I think it'd be down to either 16. ... a5, 16. ... Rfd8, or 16. ... Rfe8. But, I've no idea which it would be. Perhaps KW might have more of an opinion regarding the Rook moves?

(KW, June 23rd) Rfd8 first to be on the Half-Open File, but probably Rad8 next to support the Backward c5 pawn. However, I think a5 will be Black's next move.

(GW, June 21st) For us, though, I'm proposing 16. Nb3, since it gets one of our Knights to a more-effective Queenside square, releases our Queen to threaten (if not attack, yet) along the a5-e1 diagonal, and blockades Black's b4-pawn.

One last point, I take KW's point about our b1-Knight potentially being on a good square, without having yet moved from its original, game-starting square (click here, to read KW's comment) ... At the moment, our b1-Knight helps to defend a3 and c3; should our dark Bishop find need to focus entirely on squares d4 and beyond, the Knight on b1 can take over the Bishop's chores at a3 and c3.

Rather than saying this Knight will definitely be moving to d2, or staying put on b1, I'll keep either option a possibility, for now and wait to see what Black does next.