GW-KW, Point Count Chess Raw Discussion, File #7:
Part of the Advanced Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 2)

Game 2, with KW's additional Comments, Attempting to Help GW Understand Control of the Center
[June 6th 2011]


9. Bd3
Trying to catch up on development on e4, and seeking to remove the pesky Bishop on f5.

9. ... Bxc3
When a piece is under attack, see if you can make a forcing move. The center will be closed, so Knights will be more influential than Bishops, until the endgame. White achieves the 2 Bishops, but Black has a lot of compensation. By Bxc3, Black further threatens Bxd2 with check, so White cannot take on f5, or he will be behind on the exchange after 10. Bxf5 Bxd2+ 11. Qxd2 exf5.

10. Bxc3
White could take with the b pawn, doubling them, but the Bishop would be even a greater Bad Bishop. White decides to take the lesser evil of blocking the c pawn from development.

(GW, June 5th) Not advancing the c-pawn earlier seems to be a major problem, limiting White's space. Back on White's 6th move, do you think a better move would have been to ignore the pinned Knight (the Queen can always recapture Black's light Bishop) and, instead, play 6. c4? If 6. ... dxc4, then 7. Bxc4 and White would develop the light Bishop in the same instance as capturing (would that be for a gain of tempo?) and then, potentially, 8. Nc3.

Ken's Comments ...

(KW, June 6th) Yes, that would have been a better move. By playing h3, White weakens his Kingside pawns further, and begins to develop the Weak Dark Square Complex (not yet developed until g4, which then becomes exploitable). c4 gives far more center concerns for Black. With White's last move ...Bxc3, I would say Black at this moment has Center Control, as there is not a pawn that can challenge Black's Center.

If White could move this Bishop elsewhere, then the pawn could again be a threat to Center Control. Center Control can go back and forth, depending on the Vulnerability of the 4 center squares. c4 earlier at move 6 would have tested the Vulnerability of Black's d5 pawn, and would challenge Center Control. Just to answer a question before its asked, its not just pawn moves that determines this, but VULNERABILITY, which can be because of pawns and/or pieces. If White could have targeted his Mobility at the right spots (Piece Coordination), he may have been able to wrestle Control of the Center away from Black.

As far as the Tempo question, yes, it would have been a gain of tempo, because the Bishop was developed through the exchange (White's c pawn moved once - its tempo disappears in the exchange, taken by the d5 pawn which now moves a second time - its 2 tempos disappears in the exchange, and now the Bishop retakes for the first time to a diagonal affecting the center, as well as creating a half open file - in effect creating 2 tempos - you don't want to force your opponent to make a developing move!).

10. ... Ne4
A key move for Black, and from here on, White is in trouble. This Knight cannot be taken easily, for if Bxe4 Bxe4 and the Bishop is immediately attacking the trapped c2 pawn and pinning the f3 Knight again. By this move, Black controls the center with his Bishop, and has control of the key light squares in the center with his Knight, and attacks Bc3 as well as g3, and limits White's mobility on the dark squares.

(GW, June 5th) Why do you say Black's Bishop controls the center? I can see that, if 11. Bxe4 Bxe4 and Black's Bishop is left, supported (by d5-pawn) and unchallenged on e4. Is that essentially it to controlling the center? Get the pawns to block each other in the center, then the player who gets a piece onto a support point, which cannot be challenged, in the center, in the enemy's territory, has control of the Center?

Ken's Comments ...

(KW, June 6th) I thought you might ask about this. This is an instructive postion. Let us look at each of the 4 center squares. d4 and d5 are interlocking, and because of the blocked c2 pawn, White cannot disrupt this balance. So these two squares are in equilibrium as far as Vulnerability, neither side controlling them. That leaves e5 and e4. So when we look at e5, White seems to control this square, with 2 pawns and a Knight in COA Control of the square.

It is really a standoff position. Black wouldn't move his Nc6 to this square, as he is vulnerable on this square. And as happens in this game, if White moves Ne5, Black retakes, and White retakes with a pawn. When we look at the final position, White occupies e5 (which as we have said before, a pawn or piece that occupies a square does not control it), and it (e5) is Controlled by a pawn, but no matter which way he retakes, White creates a Doubled e Pawn. This weakens his claim to control.

Now let's look at e4. White can claim the plus of the Outpost (as either the Knight or the Bishop will occupy the Outpost), exerting great pressure on White's position. But if the Bishop is on e4, it exerts in some ways greater control of the Center than the Knight. For the Bishop would also mutually defend d5, as well as its other attributes.

So while the d pawns are blocking one another and are in equilibrium, White will control e5, but will have doubled pawns (-1), Black will have an enduring Outpost on e4 (+1). So with a difference in the position of at least 2 points, as well as perhaps another point for a Cramped Position for White because of this last move, I would say Black has Control of the Center.

With Control comes the right, if not the obligation to attack, as Black does in the rest of this game. Black's position is certainly better than White's, and the pluses and minuses bear this out. The pluses and minuses are CENTER pluses and minuses, not flank. Thus Control. It matters where the points are.


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