But WHY is black ahead?

But WHY is black ahead?

Jan 5, 2014, 4:08 AM |

Hi, all

Sorry to miss chess yesterday, but Pippa's movement improv group was such fun.  And we have more today!  We also hope to bring it to Nubeena around Easter.

So could you please pretend with me that it is now Sunday morning?  Before you met for chess yesterday afternoon, I had phone conversations with Peter and with David C.  They confessed that they meet frequently for top-secret chess-training sessions.  This should be cause for alertness, if not for alarm, in all right-thinking 'Mirkins ("Ah'm uh prahd 'mirkin"), as both are already improving rapidly.  One shouldn't panic, and I won't mention WMD, but something's happening; and I again refer you to my last game with Courtney.  I informed you of this in Some of D.C.'s strengths, and it's in the national interest that we look at this again.  


It's all very well to say that you feel it in your waters that black is a smidgin ahead in the above position; but it helps to ask Why?  in fact, I'm beginning to understand that unless I do ask that question, or something like it, I may remain unable to formulate strategic plans.  And let me show you, too!  In that last blog, I said that I thought that though both sides are equal in Material, nevertheless black had an advantage in Time (especially as the next move belongs to the forces of blackness) and in Space.


Now, those three categories are the ones central to an interesting book which D.C. inherited from his dad,  "The Middle Game in Chess" by (get this!)  Eugene Znosko-Borovsky - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


E.Z.B. 1884-1954

David has imprudently loaned the book to me, and I propose to use this secret weapon against him.  EZB was a suave interesting bloke, described as one of the last "kultur mensch" from Russian high culture of the serf economy, pre-WW1... and "one of the few survivors of an intellectually rich generation, the Russian Masters of the old regime".  He wrote lucidly in chess and as a drama  critic; and he looked like Errol Flynn long before Flynn buckled on his nappies, let alone his swashes.  

Space?  Black occupies the king-side to a large degree, and excludes white's pieces from that space.  The queen-side is largely uncontested. White's main problem is the freeing up of his knotted knights and queen.  Black's is getting a rook to e8, which would have been a killer-move about 4 moves previously, if it had been possible, and if Courtney had considered it.  He still loves his knights and queen too much, but I'm not counting on that peccadillo lasting long during this current arms-race .

Time?  Yes: if you count the number of moves black would need to get his current pieces from their original squares to their current posts, you get 10.  White seems to have made only 8 moves. Therefore black is ahead by 2 moves!  White must also spend more time un-knotting the nexus of knights & queen; so perhaps black is even further ahead?  Is it time to press the PANIC button?  No, cooler heads will note that black's pieces are actually placed for a king-side attack, which does not have much chance of success, I think.  Black's Q and wB are not well-placed, really.  Black's  recent re-positioning of N from g4 to e5 was excellent.  Black's bB on g7 is also excellently-sited.  


So my new conclusion is that black's real advantage is in Space.  There is an immediate relevance to this, as David was about to pay for misunderstanding his positional and strategic advantage.  As usual, he had been trying to mount a king-side attack.  His next move was an attempt to capitalise on the sense of being ahead by 1...Nd3, threatening the pawn.  Yes, David, right goal, wrong method.   You seek a tactical method where your advantage was longer term, and strategic.  Your mistake is a tactical one, too:  you lost to 2.Bc2, which pinned your knight to your queen.  This was a "blunder", which is one of those horrid pejorative terms rife in specialisations of all kinds, pejorative with a specialised technical meaning.  Law delights in that shit, and police bathe in the virtue of their usage of terms which infantilise the Offender.  In chess, "blunder" usually means a mistake which costs 2 pawns or more.  Some chess software will measure mistakes of Time and Space in terms of tenths of a pawn, too.


Eugene Znosko-Bosrovsky, or EZB to us, thought that the right way to profit from an advantage in Space was to further restrict the opponent.  Now, I think that white may want to play 2.Qb5 next, to relieve the pin on the knight at f3.  But it's black to move. Therefore, if you combine EZB's authority with my own dubious opinion, black might consider 1...a6 to prevent just that.  This also threatens 2...b5, which would block off the white bishop and give black the e8 square for his rooks.

I think that EZB's ideas and those three categories of strategic assessment are very interesting, and I propose that we look at them again.  And again, and in fact all the time.  They are well past the level of Beginner's Chess, but that's okay.  Yes, we are made up of chess players of diverse ranges of experience.  But Karen who has started only so recently to really think about chess, and Marcus who is a complete  beginner, are  both of them sophisticated adults.  We can talk first of all as mutually respecting adults, appreciative of one anothers' qualities; and these sophisticated ideas about chess can be helpful to all of us.  For all of us, they will need visiting and re-visiting, many times, to put them into practice.