I am asked just what square count holds out for the opening phase of the opening, any opening, and how does it set the tone for competing effectively in an imbalanced struggle? To show some samples from major tournaments how openings do indeed find square count valuable is herewith my attempt by reviewing some openings as played by the elite of the chess world. It is my attempt to illustrate strategy for both sides for my readers who I hope will benefit by my teaching from move 1 recognizing that you are not a chess machine but should let you begin to grasp what good planning adds to your enjoyment of chess play by these examples chosen at random. There is a word of warning. Opening variations as played by these elite may well find ways to improve game play or find a variation losing its flavor merely by inciting new ideas to try.
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4
This was a relatively new idea by White that by offering to sacrifice this pawn White will benefit from the open file. Black accepts the challenge.
7. … Nxg4 8. Rg1 Nxh2 9. Nxh2 Bxh2 10. Rxg7 Nf8 11. Rg2 Bd6
What should White do now with s/c in mind?
This opens up the diagonal for the Bishop, pressures the center which increases s/c. Black now activates the N with gain in s/c.
12. … Ng6 13. Bg5! Be7 14. Bxe7 Qxe7 15. O-O-O dxe4
On 15. … dxc4 16. Bxc4 Bd7 17. e5 Nh4 18. Rh2 O-O-O 19. Ne4 Nf5 20. Be2 and White is better.
16. Nxe4 f5 17. Nd2
What is a good strategic plan for White? The N retreat should give you a clue. One try for Black would be 17… Bd7 (develop) 18. c5 O-O-O 19. Nc4 Kb8 20, Nd6 Nf4 21. Rg3 with good chances.
17. …c5 18. dxc5 Bd7 19. b4 O-O-O
Here Black misses the opportunity to play what s/c move? 19. … a5! 20. b5 Qxc5 and doesn’t s/c point to a better idea? Castles looks risky because White appears to be launching a Queenside attack. White now plans to play the Rook to the Q-side.
20. Rg3 e5!
I am a rat. I want you to think. Some good ideas are possible in this opening variation. Good training. Do you still think me a rat for leaving you in this whirlwind position with both sides slugging it out? Chess is such a fun game!!
This is one example where I hope you start to see the value of my s/c theory. Perhaps for the elite players who can spend hours on their chess study, my theory is not viewed highly probably but a way for any amateur or beginner to play an intelligent game with some practice. I hope this occasional look on this series will give you food for thought in planning your own game moves and anticipate that of your opponent. Clarity helps and that is basically what square-count offers me and hopefully will you as well as we walk the road to good chessmanship.