Crushing the Opponent With Space!

May 2, 2015, 5:39 AM |

Disclaimer: I didn’t run this game through an engine, so my analysis may be a bit off (though hopefully not radically so). Also, this post is intended primarily as an educational tool for the Innisdale Chess Club, though other patrons are free to read it and critique it.

Hi guys! In one of our most recent lessons I briefly touched on the concept of space: the amount of territory on the board that you control (often marked by your pawn structure in much the same way that a fence demonstrates ownership of land). I only just finished a game against a computer player which perfectly demonstrates the appropriate use of an advantage in space to defeat an opponent. Before we begin, some key points about space:

-Having more territory is known as a “static” advantage, since it is permanent and will not go away if properly maintained. This is in opposition to a “dynamic” advantage such as development, where the advantage can disappear at any moment and must be traded for a static advantage (such as material) at some point in order to be effective.

-More space means that your pieces have more manoeuvring room, allowing them to attack or defend on either side of the board.

-Less space means that your pieces will be more cramped, and you will have more difficulty finding good posts for them.

-Typically, a strong center is necessary for any advantage in space to be effective. This means that the player with less space will seek to undermine the opponent’s center, and the player with more space will strive to make their center indestructible.

-The player with more space will usually try to avoid unnecessary exchanges, as fewer pieces means that the person with less space will have more ability to maneuver, and they will be less cramped than if their pieces were getting in each others’ way.

-Don’t grab extra space if it means creating weaknesses in your position—like Rome expanding faster than it could maintain itself, your pawn advances can cause your position to crumble unless they are backed up by support from your pieces and other pawns.

-If you have a space advantage, your priority should be to restrict the enemy pieces, deprive them of good squares, and neutralize any counterplay that your opponent may have. This means looking at what the opponent would want to do in that position, and sterilizing that opportunity before it can be realized. Once the opponent has no offensive possibilities, they are a sitting duck, and they can stew in their own juices while you have all the time in the world to construct an irresistible attack.

-If you have a space disadvantage, your priority should be to undermine the opponent’s center, usually with pawn thrusts, and to either trade your pieces off (to lessen the cramping effect) or find active posts for them. This will make defending much easier, and your opponent will have to fight hard to make any sort of progress.


With that in mind, have fun looking at the game! I would recommend reading the annotations for learning purposes.


There you have it, folks. White gained an initial advantage in space in the opening, and through nurturing this advantage and relentlessly pursuing the goal of restraining Black’s pieces and limiting Black’s options, White was able to keep the other player tied up completely, and eventually cash in his accumulated positional advantages to deliver the coup de grace with a ferocious attack on the Black kingside.

I hope that you learned something from this game. Good luck!