Should You Fear Symmetry?

Should You Fear Symmetry?

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The member Addu_Chess asked:

I’ve read How to Reassess Your Chess, and I read about the various imbalances. But what if the position is symmetrical?


There are quite a few symmetrical openings, but it’s usually easy to end the symmetry if you’re Black.

Here are some examples:

In general, playing for blatant symmetry is risky business. For example:

As you can see, symmetry might seem safe and sound, but White does have the move and it might smite you at any moment.


Mr. Addu_Chess also mentioned how symmetry makes it hard to create imbalances. The truth is that, symmetry or no symmetry, if there are no weaknesses or imbalances, it’s your job to create them. In amateur chess both sides are (usually without knowing it) creating weakness in their own positions, but in professional chess the players won’t allow that to happen unless they get something good for themselves.

For example, your opponent gives up a square but his pieces become very active (a “give and take” situation). Or White allows his pawns to be doubled but he gets an open file in return.

Here’s an example:

One must wonder why White allowed his pawn structure to be damaged. In fact, the c3-pawn is a clear target and the e5-pawn can also be kicked. However, White has his own positive imbalances: The e5-pawn gives White a central space advantage. White also has a lead in development. And White’s pieces are aiming at Black’s kingside.

In other words, Black has a static plus while White has space and a dynamic plus.

Play might go like this:


Note that 10...Be7, refusing to give White all that development, seems to be perfectly logical after 11.0-0 0-0. But let’s look and see if that’s true.


I’ll finish with a very odd symmetrical game which will once again show the dangers of following your opponents’ moves.

I would recommend that, if you are following your opponent’s moves, don’t overdo it!

A few symmetrical moves is fine, but at some point you need to step off that path and create your own plans and imbalances.

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