King in the centre

Apr 16, 2012, 11:04 AM |

King in the centre:

Leaving ones king at the centre of the board, is a risky thing to do. In most positions, having a king in the centre is simply a disadvantage, a major weakness. A un-castled king is a great attacking target, for the opponents pieces. Besides the point above, the player with a king in the centre has extreme difficulties to develop his pieces effectively.

Lets consider the following position:





The king in the centre is limiting whits ability to maneuver his minor pieces, and taking away from his h rook the ideal d file. In addition, the king will be in great danger once the centre opens up.

So when is leaving the king in the centre a good idea?

By knowing under which circumstances the king can not remain in the centre, the player can fined effectively the positions in which leaving the king in the centre is actually a good idea. Two factors always appear in such a position. The first, the king in the centre is not limiting the development of the other pieces. The second, the king in the centre is safe, and can not be attacked easily. In Order to achieve that, a stable central pawn structure must be established, shielding the king. In addition, the open file neer the king must be controlled at all times.

One question remains: why would a player choose to leave his king in the centre, in the first place. There are basically three circumstances in which leaving the king in the centre is logical. 

1)A position in which castling, or playing a move in order to avoid having a king in the centre is loosing a important tempo.




1.Nxd4,Qh4+ 2.Ke2

If white plays 1.h4?  in order to limit blacks ability to play Qh4+, he  looses a important tempo. Black responds with 1..Nxf3 , or 1..Bc5 .

2)A position in which the king will remain safer in the centre. Some times castling, relocates the king right in to the arms of danger.





next Bxe4. Black has a good attack on the white king, with the use of the open g file and the long diagonal. The g2 square is coming under a lot of pressure. Note the way the black king is safe, and is not limiting the development of his own pieces, just like discussed previously.

3)A position in which the king is helping to control key squares in the centre. Such a position occurs usually in the middle game,after the queens are off the board.

Such a position occurred in my game with megillk, game #2.


Move 21..Bd8 . Why not 21..Rxc1. Well you have to always remember to control the penetration points in your position. If 21..Rxc1? 22.Rxc1, 0-0? 23.Nxd7,Nxd7 24.Rc7.

Move 22..Kxd7 . It was played do to the same logical reason above-control the penetration points in your position. If 22..Nxd7? 23.bxa6,bxa6 24.Rxc7!,Bxc7 25.Rc1,Bd8 26.Rc6,d5 27.Rxa6 . On the other hand 22..Kxd7! 23.Bxa6,Bax6 24.Rxc7,Bxc7 25.Rc1 . White has no penetration points, the black king is controlling the c6 and c7 squares. Note the king is protected by its own d6 and e6 pawns, and the c file is under full control as well. 

One final example is the Berlin wall:

In the Berlin wall black gives up castling, to get the bishop pair. Black is not worried, his king can be protected relatively easily.There are three main factors in the Berlin wall giving black a safe king in the centre-

a)The penetration points on the d file are controlled by the bishop pair.

b)whites Queen is off the board

c)whites e5 pawn, shuts down the e file for whites rook, making the e7, e8 squares safe for the blacks king. 



This is the most common position arising out of the Berlin Wall. Black has lost his ability to castle, but he can still find a good shelter for his king on either side of the board with a few accurate moves. Black also has a bad pawn structure since there is no way he can create a passed pawn on the queen side, while white by all means can create one on the king side. This also implies that as more pieces get traded, White's advantage will keep growing as his pawn majority on the king side will start making a real impact. For all this, black has one and only one real compensation, that is his pair of bishops. You can never underestimate a bishop pair though.




avoiding passive play:

Wile playing chess, the activity of the pieces and there ability to maneuver effectively is many times over looked. If a players pieces are badly placed, the direct result would normally be a harder less playable position on his side. A chess player always needs to try having the least amount of passivepieces possible.A passive piece is a piece that is able to move to or control relatively few squares, also referred to as an inactive piece.Of Course, even wile playing the position properly, some Pieces will always remain less active. But, the players goal is to achieve a position in which most of his pieces are playing a major role. 

A defensive player has to consider the above with ever more caution. Basically there is a thin line between playing good defensive moves, to playing passive in-active moves. How can a player understand and differentiate between the two?

Well there are a few steps which have to be taken-

1)The player must make sure his minor pieces are siting on safe squares and can not be chased away by force. 

2)Defensive play= Better central control by the opponent. The defensive player must make sure his opponent can't force a better position by using his extra space, and central pawns. The above needs to be done by calculating the opponent different forcing moves, and preparing a strong response.

3)Always have counter attack! A player with out a attack going is always going to have a rough time. In order to have counter attack , two steps need to be taken.

a)Fined and identify the section on the board in which you have good attacking chances. Good attacking chances are usually found at the opposite side of the board from the players castled king. In addition, the part of the board being used to attack on,must have a flexible pawn structure, and most importantly it must be controlled by the players minor/heavy pieces.

b)Time is a major factor in chess.The player must mobilise as many pieces possible, making sure his minor and heavy pieces are all taking part in the attack. Try creating a effective attack, wile using the least amount of moves possible.

A defensive player must always for-see his opponents potential attacks and make them worthless.In addition he must identify the different un-favorable tactical combinations on his part,and avoid them before they actually take place. Avoiding does not mean playing moves like h6, and h3. Avoiding means blocking off the opponents attacking routs effectively and always having proper tactical responses to the opponents possible attacks. Working on doing the above includes two steps.

a)Working on recognising tactical paters and attacks.

b)Working on ones analytical skills, in order to enable accurate analysis of a given position.

I am looking forwards to seeing you put the above into practical use.