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

Game 3, KW's Major Digression,
7 Patterns You MUST KNOW for
Control of a Square

[Pattern #1]

(KW, June 25th) My advice to you is Know The Following 7 Patterns

Knowing When You Control A Square
- PATTERN #1 -

Occupation is not the same as Control

A piece that occupies a square is just an Occupant. We do not know whether they are (let's call them) a Renter, a Squatter, or the Owner (I have never seen these anywhere, but it makes great sense to me, so I will use this throughout the discussion). There is a big difference between the three. In law, an Owner has more rights than a Renter, who has more rights than a Squatter. In the same way, one side can have varying degrees of Control over a square at a particular moment, and this Control can vary throughout the game.

In Chess ...

  • The Owner of a square could also be the Occupant, or he may not even be there (similar to going on a vacation to take a holiday and your house is empty, or owning vacant land that has no buildings on it). The Owner Controls the square over the claims of the Renter or Squatter, because his other pawns or pieces can move to intersect the square.

  • An Occupant who is a Renter could be a piece, for instance, which moves in a Discovered Attack to a square upon which he would normally be taken by another pawn or piece, but because of the value of the piece in the Discovered Attack (e.g., Queen or King), he does not get rid of the piece immediately, and the next move the piece continues to another square. He was "just passing through", or "Renting" the square for a move, and his lease was up, so he had to go. A Renter has only "temporary" Occupancy of the Square, but does not Control the square. It has temporary permission to be there, it need not be supported by other pawns or pieces, but it can be taken. A Renter is there because of short term Tactical considerations.

  • An Occupant who is a Squatter does not belong on (have an absolute right to) that square, and wants to stay there as long as possible and supported by other pawns or pieces (perhaps all of them are singing "Cum By Yah" with a guitar over a campfire in the livingroom). A good example of this would be a Knight going to a Weak Outpost supported by a pawn. The Owner (the one who Controls the square) is away (perhaps on the Kingside, and the square is on the Queenside), and the Owner needs to evict the Squatter (in this case by using a piece or pawn of lesser value). The Outpost is Weak because a pawn can chase the Knight away. The Squatter is there because of short term Strategic considerations.

The basic Pattern can be seen in the diagram below (Diagram 3-5a).

KW's Major Digression, Pattern 1, Diagram 3-5a
Diagram 3-5a
Question: Who Controls the Center?
Answer: Black! Occupation Is Not Control!

This diagram is taken from Jonathan Rowson (Understanding the Grunfield, "The importance of the center", p.11), and reviewing what he says gives us insight into this matter:

  • "This is a vivid example of the difference between occupation and control; all of the knights occupy a central square but none of them control one. However, in most cases the player occupying the centre will also control it to some extent and my point is simply that to succeed in your fight for the center you don't need to have pieces or pawns clambering over the central squares. Superior control tends to be followed by occupation..."

Wise words indeed! You first need to Control, and then you can Occupy if you want or need to. Here is another example (Diagram 3-5b):

KW's Major Digression, Pattern 1, Diagram 3-5b
Diagram 3-5b
From the English or Reti Opening.
White Controls d5 without Occupying d5.

In this diagram, White plans on Controlling d5 4 ways, including using the Knight. In COA Control terms, there are 4 units Controlling this square.

In Diagram 3-5c, below, the Knight has moved to d5, and now there are only 3 units Controlling d5, while the Knight no longer controls the square, it is both the Owner (Controls) and Occupier ...

KW's Major Digression, Pattern 1, Diagram 3-5c
Diagram 3-5c
The Knight Occupies d5
It does not Control d5.

If the Knight moves from the square to another, it will add to the Control of the d5 square once again. A good example of first Control, then Occupy, as Rowson has said.

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