The Principle of Space and the Space Count System:
Part of the Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 2)

The Principle Of Space &
The Space Count System
[Space Count System]

The Space Count System

If you've read the section, on Chess Board Zones and the section about Ranks and Files, you'll be able visualize the Chess Board in your mind; split it up into a variety of smaller areas, regions and territories; and above all, be able to, more-easily, follow the remainder of this page ...

Right, here's that same image, you saw in the section above (see the Principle of Space), which we're going to use to learn how to do a quick Space Count assessment.

Beginners Chess Guide - Space Principle

The Space Count System
(How It Works)

The Space Count System enables a player to Count the squares controlled by either army, in order to determine which side controls more territory and, thus, holds positional advantage.

When it comes to using the Space Count System, you need to visualize the Board in two ways ...

  1. First, each square represents a single unit of Space - so, on a Chess Board, without any pieces, the total amount of Space available is 64 squares.

  2. Second, you need to visualize the Board as being bisected into two halves - White's Half versus Black's Half, with each player controlling an area totalling 32 squares, respectively.

To carry out a Space Count, you:

  • "Count the number of squares, in your opponent's half, that are within legal, attacking range from each of your pieces."

To Count White's territorial control:

  • "Count the squares - the individual units of 'Space' - in Black's Half."

To Count Black's territorial control:

Finally, in order to determine who has positional advantage:

  • "Count the total Space controlled by the opposing side" and compare the two Counts. The more squares controlled, by a player's entire army, the GREATER their positional advantage.

RULE: A chess piece DOES NOT control the square it sits on, so IT DOES NOT COUNT, in the Count!

Okay, I'm going to do the Space Count to determine how much of Black's Territory is controlled by White, which you can see in the first video clip, below ... Then, in the second video clip, it's your turn and you'll be Counting Black's territorial control.

Black Territory ... Controlled By White

As the clip showed, 3 of White's personnel control territory in Black's Half:

  • The Queenside Knight, at c3, controls
    2 squares: b5 and d5, the latter of which attacks Black's central Pawn.

  • The Queenside Knight, at d4, controls
    4 squares: b5, attacking Black Knight, c6, e6, and f5.

  • The Queenside Bishop, at c1, controls
    2 squares: g5 and h7.

White Controls a Total of: 8 Squares, in Black's Territory.

(If you're unsure of what c3, d4, c1, etc. mean, it's Algebraic Notation, which is used to reference each individual square - in the same way you'd locate places on a map. Click Here, to learn more!).

Here, it's your turn ...

Count the Space patrolled by Black (Press 'Play' to check your answer):

White Territory ... Controlled By Black


As the clip showed, 5 of White's personnel control territory in White's Half:

  • The Queenside Pawn, at d5, controls
    2 squares: c4 and e4, from its position
    in the Small Center

  • The Queenside Knight, at c6, controls
    2 squares: b4 and d4, with the latter attacking White's Knight.

  • The Kingside Knight, at f6, controls
    2 squares: e4 and g4.

  • The Kingside Bishop, at e6, controls
    2 squares: a3 and b4.

  • The Queen, on the Queenside, at c8, controls 2 squares: g4 and h3.

Black Controls a Total of: 10 Squares, in Black's Territory ...

All of which means, Black holds positional advantage, by 2 squares, over White's 8 square control.

Comparing Territorial Control With
The Space Count System

Besides being useful, for this example, it's interesting to see, from the following alternating image, how the two sides compare ...

Beginners Chess Guide - Space Count Territory Comparison
  • White Controls 8 Squares in Black's Territory,
    with a combination of 3 pieces.

  • Black Controls 10 Squares in White's Territory,
    with a combination of 5 pieces.

Here, we've removed the blinkety-blink distractions, so you can see the full Board, more clearly ...

Beginners Chess Guide - Space Principle

Besides the Territorial advantage that Black has, over White's army, it doesn't give the FULL picture as to which side is actually better off, under the present situation ...

Territorial Advantage vs Overall Advantage

In addition to how much Territory is controlled, by either side, other factors, some of which have been mentioned on Page 1, MUST be taken into account, when determining who's army has the overall advantage:

  • An exposed King is, naturally, less of an advantage - and could become a downright liability.

  • Still having the option to Castle, which, in one swift movement, gets the King to relative safety, while bringing a Rook into more-effective territory ... That's considered a plus-point for the advantages check-list.

  • Having already Castled means a player is in a more-advanced stage of development; so, that'd count in favor of an advantage.

  • If a player is down on material - that is, has lost a piece, or more - while their opponent retains their equivalent(s); that would be classed as a disadvantage ... For instance, say, White's lost his Queen, but Black still has his - White would be at a greater disadvantage.

  • Having only Bishops in a Closed Game, while your opponent has retained their Knights, would leave you at a disadvantage.

  • Having only Knights in an Open Game, while your opponent has retained both Bishops, would leave you more disadvantaged.

  • Having a Trapped Piece is another item to go onto the list of disadvantages.

Taking another look at our, now-familiar, situation ...

White should attempt to gain the advantage, first by Castling Kingside, which would get the King to a relatively-safer region on the Board.

Beginners Chess Guide - Space Principle

Thereafter, it all depends on how Black - in this case - reacts but, if things go White's way, the tables could be turned, not only could White enjoy Territorial advantage, overall advantage could be realized ...

Building on our present situation, the following clip gives an example, of how quickly situations can be reversed, for White's benefit:

New Territorial Control Comparison;
White Now Has The Advantage

Okay, the images, below, highlight White's newly acquired advantage, versus Black's reduction in Territorial control ...

White's Territory ... Controlled by Black

Beginners Chess Guide - Space Count - White Has The Advantage - Black Controls White Territory

Black's Territory ... Controlled by White

Beginners Chess Guide - Space Count - White Has The Advantage - White Controls Black Territory

Alternating, Territorial Comparison ... White vs Black

Beginners Chess Guide - Space Count - White Has The Advantage - Animated Comparison
  • White Controls 11 Squares in Black's Territory,
    with a combination of 3 pieces.

  • Black Controls 8 Squares in White's Territory,
    with a combination of 5 pieces.

Not only does White, now, hold Territorial advantage over Black; White's Castled King is also better protected; while the whole structure of White's army is better developed than Black's army.

With just 3 pieces claiming the advantage, versus Black's 5; White, in this scenario, is also developing more efficiently, too.

White's Advantage (Without The Animated Distractions)

Beginners Chess Guide - Space Count - White Has The Advantage - No Animation

« Back to the Chess Glossary (Space Count)

Moving On: How to Use a Space Advantage (Page 3).

Return to the Space & Space Count Guide Index
Chess Search 2.0 for more details and full list for more details and full list, Basic Chess Rules, Thumbnail, Beginner's Chess Guide, Thumbnail, Chess Openings Guide, Thumbnail, Chess Strategies Guide, Thumbnail, Chess Tactic Guide, Thumbnail, Chess Endgame Guide, Thumbnail