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White intends to gain space on the kingside
( 6 g4, 7 h4, h5) and pressurize Black's game
in that sector (8 Rh1-g1, 9 gxh5 10 Bg5).
In the center, he aims to take advantage
of the half open d-file ( 11 Qd1-d2, 13 0-0-0)
and execute an appropriate f2-f4 advance.
However, the isolated h-pawn could be a
potential weakness in his set-up.
What's the game plan for Black?
Black wants to contain White on the kingside
( 6 ... h6, 8 ... h5) and retaliate on the
opposite wing, beginning with 12 ... a6,
followed by 13 ... Bd7 and 15 ... b5.
To give the attack more punch, he intends
to play ... Nc6-e5-c4. As always, a timely
... e5 or ... d5 is crucial to his survival
in the center. With regards to king safety,
... 0-0-0 is an option, although it's not
uncommon for the monarch to remain
seated on e8.
White's focus is a kingside attack formulated
around the following ideas:
* Moving the bishop on e3 to h6, where it can
capture the bishop on g7. If Black's bishop
takes on h6, White's Queen can recapture, and,
subsequently work with the h1 rook to attack
the h-file, once that file is opened up.
* Playing h2-h4-h5 so as to tempt ... Nf6xh5.
Thus, White opens up the h-file and enables
g2-g4 with gain of time. If Black doesn't play
... Nf6xh5, White can always play a timely
h5xg6, and still get the use of an open h-file.
Additionally, if White's bishop is still on the
a2-g8 diagonal, where it pins the f7 pawn to the
King, Black is forced to respond to h5xg6 with
... h7xg6. Thereafter, g6 is open to attack.
* Moving the c3 knight to d5, where it will take
the knight on f6, thus eliminating a key
defender of h7.
Once the h-file is opened up by the h2-h4-h5
maneuver, and the g7 bishop and f6 knight are
eliminated by Be3-h6-Bxg7 and Nc3-d5-Nxf6,
White threatens to bring his Queen to h6 and
mate Black on the h7 or h8 square.
If Black impedes the above strategy by ... h5,
White can always try to play for a timely e4-e5
What's the game plan for Black?
Black needs to mount a queenside attack by:
* Playing ... Nc6 and ... Bd7, as per move 8 and 9.
* Posting the c6 knight on c4 via ... Nc6-e5-c4.
* Taking control of the half open c-file by
playing ... Rac8 or ... Rfc8. Rfc8 is usually
preferable because it allows the g7 bishop to
withdraw to h8, after White plays Be3-h6. Also,
a rook on c8 facilitates ... Nc6-e5-c4 because
it prevents an unchallenged Bxc4.
* Developing the Queen to a5 or c7. From a5 the
Queen eyes a2 and c3 and from c7 it adds to the
build up of pressure along the half open c-file.
* Advancing ... a7-a6-a5-a4 and ... b7-b5-b4 in
order to augment the g7 bishop.
* Black also needs to push ... h7-h5 in response
to h4. The idea is to slow down White's attack.
* In some instances, Black can exchange the
rook on c8 for the knight on c3 in an
effort to undermine White's pawn center.
After the exchange sacrifice, Black has
... Nf6xe4, attacking the c3 pawn and the
Queen on d2.
Chess: The Unsounded Center
What exactly makes this region unique?
White's possession and control of d4 and e4
(i) Black is unable to use c5-e5 plus d5-f5
(ii) He stands the risk of being pushed back
by d4-d5 and e4-e5
d4-e4 therefore gives White an offensive plus
territorial advantage. If he can get in c4 and
f4, his central presence becomes intimidating:
The same is true if Black is ruler of d5-e5.
White's home ground is invaded at d4 and f4
plus c4 and e4. He may also lose ground to
d5-d4 and e5-e4.
If Black can manage c5-d5-e5-f5 his
central set-up also becomes threatening:
In either one of the above cases, the side
controlling the center usually aims to first
secure it before assaulting; the opposing one
often thrives to weaken and destroy it before
In short, an imposing center is both a boon
and a responsibility.