Why is Center control important in chess?

Why is Center control important in chess?

Are you a chess player who has mastered the basics but seem lost in limbo land when it comes to winning Chess games? Here is an instructive post-beginners’ course material that will help you attain a decent level of understanding and a rock-solid foundation before entering the club-level and advanced level field. The first question that needs to be understood by a post-beginner is – why is Center control important in chess?

Def: A post-beginner is one who has learnt the basic concepts of chess.

In my career as a coach spanning 10 years I have seen that there is a dearth of structured syllabi, for beginners in Chess. Either they are too complicated/too basic for the post beginner or they are not coherent – meaning that they do not answer the questions from a novice’s point of view. However the evergreen rules are still relevant for a generic approach in learning.

My advice for a post-beginner is just one simple sentence –

Play simple chess – control the centre! 

The simplest advice to beginners is – Control the center, develop your pieces actively, create problems for you opponent and you will soon be winning many games. Make your opponent to think and let him stress out. After all Chess is a mind game.

Why is this control of the center so important? Controlling the center limits your opponent’s mobility and hinders the relationship between his pieces. Advantages like these lead to attacking chances.

Now last week I received an email asking me to comment about the relevance of Center control and why many of the games are based on this one singular aspect of chess theory.

In case you are interested there is a DVD by Damien Lemos which is relevant for our discussion. Here is my take on this DVD and why this is a really good material in case you are around or below 1500 FIDE rating strength.

What if you do not have an official FIDE rating? If you do not have a FIDE rating yet, but regularly play online then remember that 1500 FIDE approximately corresponds to 1800 rating in online sites such as Chesscube or Freechess and 1600-1700 in case you play in ICC or Playchess.


Center control important in chess

Mastering Control of the Center –

The biggest headache for all post-beginners in chess is they do not know why is Center control important in chess

The reason why they miss out on this point is that they tend to either get carried away by some impromptu tactic or forget its importance or lose sight of the opponent’s ambitions in the center.

I always tell my students to keep it simple. Control the Center – this simple advice will fetch you points or save the lost points to a minimum draw. 

Broad benefits of controlling the center:

  • Greater mobility of pieces. Often, if the central pawns are advanced to the central squares, then the mobility of the pieces is greatly increased. Thus, pawn moves such as e2-e4 frees the bishop on f1 and d2-d4 does the same for the bishop on c1. Later on, these moves also free the queen on d1 and the rooks.
  • Greater influence over the whole board. For e.g., a centralized Knight on e5 generally controls more important squares inside the enemy camp than a knight passively placed, say, on a4.
  • Limit and push back the strong pieces of your opponent or restrict mobility of enemy pieces.
  • Break his defense of the central squares to give you a free pawn as bonus.
  • You can use this central control to establish make your own pieces placed on better squares called as outposts.

In his instructive chess DVD, Damian Lemos focuses on the basic concepts and common themes of successful central control for beginner chess players.

He explains the concepts using model games listed below so as to showcase the concepts.

1. Capablanca vs Anonymous
2. Alekhine vs Casielles
3. Shabalov vs Smylov
4. Tal vs Benko
5. Landa vs Purtov
6. Schlechter vs Wolf

This idea of using model games is good and the games he chooses are classic examples. See them and remember to see it many times till it drills down to your subconscious mind.

Let the concepts and ideas become second nature for you, when you play chess. Try your ideas while playing chess online and see your wins increasing… And most importantly – have fun!

Buy it here Mastering Control of the Center – Empire Chess
The above product download now includes PGNs of the analyzed games!

Additional games for you to see check out:

Karpov vs Kasparov World Championship Match (1985), Game 16 – Kasparov places a black knight on d3 which was famously described as the ‘octopus‘, controlling several key squares in White’s position and throwing White off-balance. White’s knights on the other hand are passively placed and have no control on the center.
Paul Morphy vs James McConnell, 1849 – Morphy follows simple chess opening principles; develops pieces towards the center, advances pawns to e4 and d4, empowers his bishops and tortures his opponent!

Karpov vs Kasparov World Championship 1986, Game 5. – Karpov shows how pawns in the center can block a fianchettoed Bishop making it bite on granite.

Fischer vs Myagmarsuren, 1967 – Bobby Fischer pushes a pawn to e5 to drive the Black knight from f6 and then launches a King-side attack. Shows that when you control important squares you have the ability to push your opponent’s pieces when time arises.


Note: The links in this post are affiliate links.

Related Post

Leave a Reply