Half-open File:
Part of the Advanced Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 1) and the
Chess Strategies Guide (Section 3: Studying the Pieces)

Half-open File
Point Count Chess: [+]

About This Article...

Advanced Beginners Chess Teaser pccThis article includes my notes, additional images and interactive chess positions from my study of Horowitz & Mott-Smith's book, Point Count Chess.

Point Count Chess,
Chapter 18. The Half-open File (p213-227)

Point Count Chess, Examples:
  • Queen Bishop File in Queen's Gambit
  • The Minority Attack
  • Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing
  • Half-Open Files in the Sicilian
  • Queen File in the Ruy Lopez
  • Half-Open King Rook File

The side who has a Pawn missing from their respective Rank, while the adverse Pawn still sits on its file, has open access to more of the squares along the file, thus has the benefit of the Half-Open File (Diagram 1).

Half-open File, Image 1, Advanced Beginners Chess Guide
Diagram 1: Half-open Files,
for White (c-file) and Black (d-file)
But generally the plus point for having clear access to the Half-open File isn't counted until a Rook or Queen is on the file attacking the other pawn. Therefore, in Diagram 1 (above), Black would claim a plus point for having the Queen attacking the White d-pawn, along the Half-open d-file; yet, even though White has a Half-open c-file, neither Rook or Queen sit on that file ... there's nothing to put pressure on Black's c-pawn, which is why White fails to score the plus point.

H&M-S, in the Summary, p.227, give the point "if you see a clear prospect of posting a Rook or Queen upon it with effect". To me, that is too subjective. More objective is to have the Rook or Queen actually on the Half-open File.

H&M-S list half a dozen functions that a Rook may be asked to perform, when posted to a Half-open File:
  1. Attack the enemy Pawn (on the file);

  2. Attack enemy pieces (on the file);

  3. Prevent the enemy Pawn's advance;

  4. Other operations (on the file);

  5. Protect friendly Pieces in advanced positions (on the file);

  6. Gain access to other files, by exiting through the gap where the friendly Pawn used to be.

These functions are looked at in the examples, on the next page ...

Moving On: Half-open File, PCC Examples (Page 2).

Return to the Index of Advantages
Return to the Chess Strategies Guide,
Studying the Pieces (Major Pieces)
← Back to the Chess Glossary (Half-Open File)
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