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 9th-10th 2011]



(GW, June 9th) PROPOSED MOVE: 8. c4

Reasoning: Here's my proposed move and other moves I considered:

  • 8. e3
    My first instinct was to look at 8. e3 since there's no dark Bishop to be blocked in, as it's fully committed on b2 and e2-e3 would return White's 1-unit extra protection for the d4-pawn (4:3 to White, it'd be). It would also create a Pawn Chain connected to the 2nd Rank (f2), so if 8. ... cxd4 9. exd4 and White has a pawn returned to d4, which Black wouldn't attack (9. ... Nxd4 Bxd4 and White's dark Bishop, protected by the f3-Knight, forces Black's Queen to retreat).

    However, I recall during our 6th Move, you thought it preferable to develop White's e-Pawn directly to e4, at the first opportunity. I'd still like to pursue that, but it's too early, at the moment as Black currently controls e4 with 2 units (d5,Nf6), with absolutely nothing aiming at e4 from White's army.

  • 8. e4
    I don't think we have enough time to get enough pieces to attack e4, to facilitate pushing the e-pawn there; not with Black's development increasing more and more pressure in that Queenside zone (Ranks 4-5).

  • 8. Nc3
    Develops the Knight, for sure, but gets totally in the way of our (White's) fianchettoed, dark Bishop, reducing our defense of White's d4-Pawn to 2-units, versus Black's 3-units. We'd get well and truly mullered (8. ... cxd4 Nxd4, 9. Nxd4 leaves our Queen to capture Black's Knight, leaving it En Prise to Black's Queen. Bad move).

  • 8. Nd2
    Does similar to Nc3, but blocks White's Queen, instead of the dark Bishop.

So, I've ruled out White's: e-pawn (e2-e3), King Rook (Rf1-e1) and Queen Knight (Nb1-c3, or Nb1-d2). White's a2,b3 Pawn Chain is already in a good, defensive formation, so that shouldn't be moved (wastes a tempo, right?) and the Queen Rook cannot move.

So, that just leaves White's c-pawn ...
  • 8. c3
    Wouldn't really affect White's fianchettoed Bishop and would lend that extra unit of support to our d4-pawn. However, that'd still leave the c-Pawn Backward, right? A Backward Pawn is one that cannot advance without risk of loss or some other disadvantage (if I remembered it correctly).

    The problem with 8. c3 is it would tie-up c3, depriving White's Queen Knight access to its optimum square for defending/attacking in the Center.

  • 8. c4
    The only other option, then is my proposed 8. c4, Forking Black's two pawns (b5 and d5). Black wants to go at our (equally defended) d4-pawn? Let's give Black something to defensively think about.

    Ken, as you mentioned earlier, we can get rid of the potential Backwardness of the c-pawn, through exchanging it. However, not straight away, since 8. c4 bxc4 9. bxc4 would leave us with an Isolated a-pawn. Instead, 8. c4 bxc4 9. Nc3 and our Queen Knight is on its favored square, already in place for us to build-up behind our e-pawn, ready to push that to e5 (after we've moved Rf1-e1).

Ken's Comments ...

(KW, June 10th) Good analysis.

A couple of issues I would like to add. c3 not only the problem of the QN, but what if Black goes ...c4? Then this pawn will be stopped from advancing, the Advanced Salient formed, and the QB, which is on a good diagonal, would suddenly be blocked behind its pawns and have become bad.

The other thing I think you missed, which comes with developing your chess vision (if you need to at this stage, take another physical board and move the pieces where you want to move and look at the resulting position - this also gives you a "hands on" of the pieces taken and left), is on your exchange sequence after c4.

I agree we need to eventually here give Black something to think about (if Fritz can "think"), but 8. c4 bxc4 9. bxc4 Qxb2 and we are down our good QB, the QR is threatened, and suddenly White is down one defender on d4, and d4 will fall, and with it, Center Control. Anywhere White moves the QN is bad, as Nd2 blocks another defender of d4 (the Queen), Nc3 or Na3 and Black has another piece, and we might as well pack it in and call it a day. Ok, so we would not retake if 8. c4 bxc4 so what about your suggestion 8. c4 bxc4 9. Nc3? Well, we are now down a pawn, and I believe in pawn sacrifices, as long as they give us sufficient compensation or a mating attack.

There is no mating attack, so what would be the compensation? We develop a piece to its favored square, which attacks d5, b5 and e4. What would be Black's compensation for the exchange? Black has instantly created a Half Open file which he has his Queen already on (a countable point), and the QR could move quickly to b8.

Yes, there would be a potential point for Doubled Pawns, but Black's exchange on c4 now attacks b3 and d3, and is defended by the pawn. We can't immediately take advantage of the Doubled Pawns, and they are in the large center, so it helps with the central control. Also, d3 is a potential square for our Queen in the future.

But perhaps the biggest problem is Nc3 also blocks one defender of d4 (the QB), so the forces are now equal, and an exchange on d4 would result in the loss of our Queen, and relinquish Center Control to Black (...cxd4, 10. Nxd4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Qxd4). No, there just isn't sufficient compensation for the pawn, and we are in danger of also losing our Queen. I can't recommend this move sequence.

Looking at alternatives, the KN is needed in the defense of d4, and should not move now. I would like to move it to e5, but that will have to wait until the right time. Moving Qd2 blocks the QN, and Qd3 looks good, but after c4, it doesn't look as good, as I would lose the QB again. Any other piece move has similar problems.

e3 looks to be the best of the pawn moves. It defends d4 without blocking any pieces, and opens up the diagonal d1-h5 for the Queen later. COA Control of d4 would be 4 v 3 in our favor. It does look like the best move we can make at this point, so I recommend 8. e3.

(GW, June 10th) Ken, referring to what you said: "8. c4 bxc4 9. bxc4 Qxb2 and we are down our good QB, the QR is threatened, and suddenly White is down one defender on d4, and d4 will fall, and with it, Center Control." ...

Yeah, I spot it now, but not without it having to be pointed out. I got too absorbed with making sure the pawn exchanges would leave us (White) with a good remaining pawn structure, in addition to trying to leave good moves/positions for our QN and QB, that I went totally blind to the position of Black's Queen, even though she's just one rank above the Black pawns I was focusing on.

When I was trying to play the pawn exchanges in my mind, I was looking at the current board position in Fritz 12; I probably ended up merging the two views (looking ahead in my mind versus how the position actually is, at present). So, I didn't take into account that our b3 pawn would no longer be there and Black's Queen would have our Bb2 "En Prise".

If I'd have played the moves through manually, in Fritz (or on a physical chessboard), I'd have spotted it, for sure. I was trying to develop visualizing moves in my mind and felt it was a little like cheating to have to keep returning to manually make the moves.

But, maybe I'm doing it the wrong way round and should actually play the moves on a physical chessboard, to get the tactile benefit of picking up and moving the pieces and my mind will gradually develop the required 'foresight', naturally?

Okay, let's make our move: 8. e3, as you called it, and see what Fritz comes back at us with ...


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