Kindred’s Special: Looking at Square Count in the Queen’s Indian Defense

Today I have selected as a topic and theme a correspondence game played between Sidney Bernstein (USA) and H. D. Katki (IND) in CCOL2 Final, Board 4, 1952. As usual I try to research and select games that are not well known but yet possess some very instructive points of instructional value. So set up those pieces and prepare for some instruction that will benefit you greatly and without paying a cent for the lesson. If you want to send me money you cannot do so because I do this blog purely for the advancement of the game and not aimed at personal reward other than a few of you will benefit from my instructional commentary.

1.d4 Nf6  2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7  6.0-0  0-0 7.Nc3

This QID set up has been a standard system for many years and saw battles waged among the elite of the chessworld who were reprentative of decades of waging war on the 64-squares.

Lets look at these moves. For the student who is interested in developing their opening skill, notice my square count theory–how the pawns and pieces are placed to gain square pressure and effort to control the central complex and keep open llines poking and probing for pricks at the enemy position. White has achieved a spatial edge for the moment that might prove temporary if  black can mount a counteraction to restore balance. The imbalance of this current position tends to favor white so black’s task must seek a way to neutralize this and decides to try to achieve this by exchanges to free up his somewhat constricted position. This is the major short term goal. But what else is worth investigating? The Q-bishop is not developed but has a nice square on f4 that directs a threat immediately at c7. The pawn structure will not go away. So….

7…Ne4  8.Qc2  d5  9.cxd5  Nxc3  10.Qxc3  Bxd5

Black has solved part of his problem by achieving a number of exchanges but the trouble is that white forces are better poised for middlegame action and his pawn structure promises a dominance in the center. What is white’s basic plan now?

Visualizing the d/e pawns occupying d4 and e4 seems like a good idea so how can this be accomplished providing black cannot weaken its effect of dominating the center. But first things first.

11.Bf4  Increases square count and the threat requires attention.

11…Nc612. Rfd1

Black had a mean threat of …Bxf3 followed by Nxd4. White stops this and the Rook placed in the same file as the opposing Queen often is a good point reflecting the value of square count as it can be a prelude to its expansion.

12…Rc8  13.a3

A prophylactic Nimzowitsch move whose purpose is to protect b4 and allow the Q to play to c2 to support a possible e2-e4 thus completing his plan.

13…Bd6 14.Qc2  Bxf4 15.e4!  Bb3 16.Qxb3 Bh6

Keeping the Bishop on the long diagonal is probably best as 16…Bd6  17.e5 followed by 18.d5 chatters the center and opens lines favorable to white.

17.d5  Na5

Those eyeing 17…exd5 as better must find a reply to 18.Bh3!


If you were thinking 18.Qc2 following the idea of using square count in what best square to place the Queen you would be following the same thought as Fritz 8. Probably SB wanted to keep pressure on the diagonal and has in mind a very nice idea.

18…exd5  19.Bh3  Rb8

This simply gives White all the play. Even though not adequate either but worth noting is 19…Qf6 20.Bxc8  dxe4 where Black has some pressure on the position should White miscue.

20.Rxd5  Qe7  21.b4  Qxe4  22.Bg2

A slight miscue. White might be better trying what move first?  22.Ne5 first would be more prudent.

22…Nb7 23.Ne5  Qf5  24.Nd7  Qe6  25.Nxf8  Kxf8 26.Qc2  c6  27.Qxh7  Rd8  28.Rxd8+  (1-0).

Correspondence games usually do not play on and on in what appears a hopeless effort mostly to save money on postage. Today with the internet play that has pretty much replaced snail mail or even email play. It attracts players who have little time to compete in tournaments. It also affords the enthusiast for this type of play the chance to explore international play and meeting chess friends from around the world who share their joy for cc.

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