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My System Walkthrough (1,1) - On the Centre and Development

Apr 29, 2015, 4:02 PM 1

Part 1: The Elements

1. On the Center and Development


Some definitions:

By Border, we mean the line going directly inbetween ranks 4 and 5.

By the Centre, we mean the most restricted group of squares around the exact middle of the board, i.e. e4, d4, e5 and d5. 


1. By development, we mean the strategic advance of the toops towards the border

Development is not complete if you have only brought out 1, 2 or even 3 pieces. The idea is that all pieces be developed. Unless taking a huge advantage, you don't want to move your pieces more than once during the opening stages of the game.


2. A pawn move must not in inself be regarded as a developing move, but simply as an aid to development

The Pawn is not really fighting unit because the attacking force of the pawns is tiny compared to that of the pieces. However, an advance without pawns is unsustainable because the advance of the opponents pawn centre would repel the advance of our own pieces, after they have already been developed, and allow the opponent more room and control to manouvre the board.

The following demonstates the breaking up of a pawnless advance:



 Pawn moves in the development phase are only allowed if they help occupy the centre or have a logical connection with the occupation of the centre, such as a pawn move that protects its own centre or one that attacks the opposing centre.

In an open game, after 1.e4 e5 both d3 and d4 immediately or later are always correct moves.
This also means that rook pawn advances at this stage of the game should be considered a waste of time (although in closed games, this is only partially relevant as there is less direct contact with the enemy and development is done at a slower pace).


3. A lead in development is ideal

Force the opponent to waste time if you are able to so, by attacking their developed pieces whilst simultaneously developing your own.


4. Exchanging followed by a gain in tempo

The move 2. exd5 from the previous game can be described as a compound manouvre.
Another example:

 Some Beginners may ask why Black must recapture... Masters are aware that they are compelled to recapture lest the material balance of power be disturbed. The fact such pressure exists means that by recapturing, the opponent is delayed in development.


A possible intermezzo between exchanging and gaining a tempo

5. Liquidation, followed by development or a bid for freedom

If a businessman sees his investment going badly, he does well to liquidate that investment, so that he can put the proceeds into a better one. Same with Chess, although the consequences of a bad investment in the chess world could mean the continuous paying off of a gathered debt due to the earlier bad investment.

Since the process of development is complete, manoeuvering will now start, possibly c7-c6 and the occupation of Whites weakened c4 and d5 squares by Nc4 and Qd5. Well timed liquidation has put Black back on track for correct development.


A properly executed exchange produces an excellent weapon and the basis for the typical moves we have analysed above:

- Exchange for a gain in tempo
- Exchange via Liquidation followed by either developing, or freeing move.


Exchanges should only be made in the above two cases, exchanging "willy-nilly" could be dis-advantagious.


6. The center and its demobilizing force

When and how to resist the advance of your opponent's centre. On maintaining and giving up the centre.

A free and mobile centre makes for a terrible attacking weapon, as the threat of advancing pawns will drive back the opponent pieces. However, in all such cases, it comes down to whether the Knight, that is driven off, is driven from "Piller to Post" or whether it will find a good position in order to make good use of its tempi.





 Another example:

In general the Knight looks to stay in the centre, so it is quite exceptional for it to move to the edge of the board.



Example of Knight maintaining its position:

So as long as it is possible to do so without disadvantage... hang on to the centre.


The Pawn is the natural defender. If a piece were to be relied upon to protect another piece, or Pawn, it would feel somewhat restricted.

6a. Surrendering of the center

 1. If you allow your opponent to have a free and mobile central pawn, then that pawn must be considered dangerous and your chess aggresion must be directed against it.

2. The pawn must either be "eliminated" or "imprisoned". A move such as d6 in the last game would prevent the pawn from advancing any further. Development should continue around this and the Pawn "executed" when appropriate. White will be looking to make the e-pawn mobile by working towards playing f4 at the right moment.

 The game could go on as such:

Restraint can be difficult, it may seem easier to kill off the mobile centre pawn immediately but this is not always the the most appropriate course of action. Such cases do not happen that often, though here is a small selection:

 A similar situation was met by the central pawn in one of Nimzowitsch's own games:




 7. Pawn grabbing in the opening

There is no time for Pawn grabbing with particular regards to the central pawn.

In the opening, the most important thing is to allow your game to "grow", therefore, Don't play to win pawns BEFORE completing development.

There is an exception to this that shall be discussed, but first...

What is the best way of declining a gambit?


In the Evans Gambit:

You should decline the Kings Gambit:



You can accept the Kings Gambit, but not for the sake of trying to keep a pawn up, but more to undermine the strength of White's centre:


 7a. A center pawn should always be taken if this can be done without too much danger


Winning a pawn on the edge of the board isn't great, but winning one of the centre pawns contributes to your own Invincibility!

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