The Opening for Beginners - Part #2

Aug 8, 2007, 12:00 AM |
9 | For Beginners

In Part #1 I discussed the importance of development, and mentioned in passing the importance of developing towards the centre. In this article I will expound upon the importance of the centre.

Firstly the centre of the board are the squares e4, e5, d4 and d5 and the extended centre is the eightua surrounding them. The centre of the board is the most important part of the board because if you can dominate it than you can cramp your opponent, prevent his breakthroughs, close the centre to attack the enemy King, if you have a central majority you can sometimes make a passed pawn in the middle game and pieces in the centre control more squares than they do when they're on the edge of the board (Except for the Rook, which should be posted on files with no pawns, or only enemy pawns, which are either central or lead to the enemy King).

Now that that's over and down with, you hopefully understand and accept the centre's importance, but if you're still unconvinced look at any popular opening, they ALL attempt to control the centre in some way. There are two basic methods of controlling the center; 1) The Classical method, as touted by Steintiz, Tarrasch and co. is to quickly inhabit the center with pawns and support them with pieces; 2) The Hypermodern method which is to allow your opponent to build up a pawn center while attacking it with pieces, delaying in  the centre with pawns, the Hypermodern method treats the full pawn centre as a burden and a target.

Firstly I'll talk about the Classical method. As I said, the Classical method aims to inhabit the centre with pawns and to support them with pieces. Now if you do manage to get a large centre it becomes both a boon and a burden, it gives you all of those benefits mentioned above, but a good opponent will try to undermine it before you can use it to start an attack. An example of a large centre's creation is 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 now White will support the centre with c3 and f4, and Black will attack it with c5 and f6. If Black fails to break through than White will be able to take his time developing an attack on the Kingside. So basically if you have a centre under siege, PROTECT IT! Now here are some examples of a player using a huge centre to win.






The other approach to the centre is the aforementioned Hypermodern method. The basic idea behind this is that a large centre is just a large target, so a hypermodern player will attack it with pieces, fianchettoing Bishops (Place Bishops on b2, g2, b7 or g7) and use their own pawns to break it up and make it weak. Then to either take advantage of the weak pawns (remnants of a once proud centre) or to counter attack. However, the downside to the Hypermodern approach (Yes, sadly there is a downside to something with such a cool name) is that it almost always involves taking on a spacial disadvantage, and your opponent may attack before you can destroy his centre, and if you are too slow then you my find yourself completely without play. But before I go into examples some advice on dealing with these situations. If you find yourself cramped or being attacked, trade pieces, if there are fewer pieces than you won't be so cramped, and he'll have to defend a large area with few pieces, and it's difficult to get a good attack going with only three pieces. Also if you find yourself in the unenviable position of being cramped and without play, do whatever you can to counter attack, even if it means sacrificng a pawn or two, because passive defence is rarely a viable option. Now here are some games in which a player's centre becomes to hot to handle.

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