The importance of the centre

| 10 | For Beginners

The importance of the 'centre' of the chessboard is often stressed to beginners, but the reasons are not always explained.  One of the reasons that the centre is important is that the chess pieces control more squares from the centre and are therefore usually better placed there.


Try this exercise:  Place a King, Queen, Rook, Bishop and Knight in turn on the square e4 of an otherwise empty board and count how many squares each piece could move to from that square.  Repeat this for square h4 and square h1.  Make a note of your answers and compare to the table below. 



You can see that most pieces control more squares when they are nearer to the centre of the board.  On the edge of the board they can be less effective, and the poor Knight is crippled by being on a corner square.


The number of squares that your pieces control is vital for determining how much influence they have on the game.  So, try to keep your pieces posted on active squares where they have lots of freedom.  More often than not this means putting them near the middle of the board and avoiding the edges and corners. 


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