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 25th-27th 2011]


RECENT MOVES: 16. Nb3 Rfe8

(GW, June 25th) PROPOSED MOVE: 17. f4

Reasoning: With Black's KR going to e8, I have to assume Black potentially calculates some action along the e-file. I think Black is gearing up for e6-e5, to attack our d4-pawn, which is already 2x attacked, 3x defended.

Black already has Control of e5, with 2 units directly guarding it, versus only one White unit (our d4-pawn). Playing e6-e5 would add a third unit (Re8), making it 3 v 1, in Black's favor, on e5.

Ken's Comments ...

(KW, June 27th) OK, we need to stop here and make a

(GW, June 25th) At the moment, I've got two candidate moves in mind: 17. N1d2 and 17. f4, respectively ...

17. N1d2 ... So, what might Black do?

  • 17. N1d2 e5
    If we then played 18. d5, wherever Black's attacked QN went, we'd then be able to play 19. e4, creating an Advance Salient (White pawns: c4,d5,e4). Black would have Control of the Hole at d4, but cannot get either Knight onto what would be a very strong Outpost (d4).

Ken's Comments ...

(KW, June 27th) This would be the best line, creating an Advanced Salient and closing the Center, which because of our extra Space (COA Territorial Domination) would give us the advantage. Two examples of lines that might be played are:
  1. 18. d4-d5 Nc6-e7 19. a2-a3 a7-a5 20. a3xb4 a5xb4 21. e3-e4 Re8-f8 22. Bg2-h3 Ra8-a6 23. Ra1xa6 Bb7xa6

  2. 18. d4-d5 Nc6-b8 19. a2-a3
  • (GW, June 25th) 17. N1d2 e5 (Continued ...)
    If, instead, we played 18. dxe5, our pawn then Forks Black's d6-Bishop and f6-Knight, which would force Black to exchange pieces, by capturing our e5-pawn.

    However, my lack of experience lets me down and I couldn't decide, with confidence, which Black piece would be best to make the first capture (of course, this is all hypothetical). This is a major issue for beginners: when there's a choice of pieces to make a capture, which one should take the lead and attack first?

Ken's Comments ...

(KW, June 27th) The answer to this is to wind up with the Piece you want on the square. Work backwards. I would want the Bishop on e5, so I would take with the Knight (extremely complicated then, but exactly what Fritz would like!), and wind up with the Bishop. I think this line would favor Black.
  • (GW, June 25th) 17. N1d2 e5 (Continued ...)
    Of course, the biggest downside to 18. dxe5 is it would leave our Queenside Pawns horribly Isolated! I'd sooner play 18. d5 and form that Advanced Salient.

Actually, I can't see any other move than 17. ... e5. I think the reason 16. ... Rfd8 didn't go ahead was because Black's Rd6 couldn't go anywhere more-effect than its current square, without getting in the way of other Black pieces, and that's not really changed, so I'm not sure Black's QR will be moving on Black's 17th move.

Ken's Comments ...

(KW, June 27th) Another reason why Rfe8 was that it is on the same file as the White Queen.

A general rule of thumb is to put a Rook on the same file as the Queen, even if there are a lot of Pawns and Pieces in the way, as after exchanges, the Queen will be attacked by a lesser value Piece. Doesn't always work, but good to remember as a rule of thumb.

(GW, June 25th) Black's other Bishop (b7), has already been moved to take up position in the event of the Small Center suddenly opening up, so I doubt that'll be moving, either.

Meanwhile, Black's Knights are already on good squares, combining to scope out the entire Small Center.

That leaves Black's Queen and she's really involved in the combined defence of pawns at b4 & c5, respectively. So, I don't think the Queen will be moving in the next move.

Alright, so what about the other option:

17. f4 ...

  • 17. f4 e5
    I've had a look at bypassing the attack on our d-pawn, with 18. d5, to attack Black's c6-Knight.

    However, playing moves forward - manually in Fritz - I managed to create a sequence that wasn't good for White: 18. d5 exf4 19. dxc6 Bxc6 20. Bxc6 Qxc6 21. e4 fxg3 22. hxg3 Rxe4, leaving our King badly exposed (Black's King, by contrast still has its 3-pawn shield intact).

    More interesting would be 18. fxe5, Forking Black's d6-Bishop and f6-Knight, for quite an exciting position - I'd quite like KW's thoughts on the potential outcome from this, as my inexperienced chess-brain is struggling to juggle all the potential outcomes.

Ken's Comments ...

(KW, June 27th) I think 17. f4 a5 is more likely, but as you have asked about 17. f4 e5 18. fxe5.

While White will come out ahead in the exchange (18. ... Bxe5 19. dxe5 Nxe5 20. Bxe5 Rxe5; or Nxe5 19. dxe5 Bxe5 20. Bxe5 Rxe5), White will be left with an Isolated Pawn that will be pinned by Black's Rook because of the Queen on e1. We would be ahead, but we would have to fight like crazy to stay that way.
  • (GW, June 25th) 17. f4 Ng4
    Black's KS Knight is the only unit halting the advance of White's e-pawn. By jumping forward to g4, it would allow us to play 18. e4 and form a 4-pawn Phalanx all the way across the Center. I can't see that being allowed, so I'll rule out 17. ... Ng4.

For me, 17. N1d2, with the potential to form that c4,d5,e4 Advanced Salient, seems to be more solid ... but, 17. f4, with the potential for 18. fxe5, seems to have more exciting and aggressive possibilities.

I'm struggling to decide between the two; my instinct is to try and find the quickest way to attack and capture material, but I know I lack enough experience of both tactics and strategy, to allow myself to launch into an attack with measured control.

At the moment, I find it frustrating that I'm taking more than 2 hours just to think through ONE move ... and I STILL can't decide, with enough conviction, between two potential moves. This is where a good mentor comes in and I'm fortunate to have the patient experience of KW to tap into.

Being pushed to propose a move, before emailing it to KW, I'd have to say "to hell with it" and go for 17. f4. That's my proposal: 17. f4.

Ken's Comments ...

(KW, June 27th) Remember that Black still has Queenside threats and doesn't HAVE to move e5.

If we attack on the Kingside, watch the other side to see if that might throw complications into it. Here, 17. f4 a5 comes to mind, followed by 18. Nbd2 a4 19. dxc5 (the threat against the Queen must be dealt with before taking the Knight) 19. ... Bxc5 20. Nxc5 Qxc5 exchanges evenly. That should probably be followed by 21. Rab1 (being on the same file as the Queen, and hindering the advance b3). The game would be about even.

One of the problems with f4 is that when White exchanges his e pawn, we will have a Backward Pawn on a Half-Open file attacked by a Rook, with our Queen pinned behind the pawn, so that we cannot retake if necessary. A Triple Whammy!

I will take solid any day, even though I DO like to take risks now and again. N1d2 will enable us to get our Rooks connected (finally!), and soon get an Advanced Salient. If a5, then I would say, let's exchange on c5 as in the last paragraph, the Center will be open, with good chances for White, and Black's Queen will have moved away from its Bishop.

One of the problems of many beginners is they choose a more risky move with unseen consequences over a safer move that may seem duller. We may be able to do f4 later, with proper preparation. But for now, I choose 17. N1d2.


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