Diagram: Black – Ka8/Rh8/Pd7-f6-g4/Nc6/Qd6/Bc5. White – Pa6-b2-c2-g3/ Qe4/Ra1-c3/Bh2/Kh1.
Set up your position. Who has any square count advantage? White has 12; Black has 21.
That suggests a winning position providing White’s s/c offers no mating attack. Black on the other hand has White’s King in a box having only g2 square available to move to. Even though White is materially ahead, the position lacks no dynamic piece deployment. Just the opposite for Black forces. Black smashes open the position with 1…R:h2+! forcing 2. K:h2, Qd2+ 3. Kh1 Qh6+ with a mate threat likely causing White to resign.
Here Black wisely chose to bust open the King position, realizing with analysis that it doomed the King into a mating position.
If you find these square count lesson shorts worthwhile, I’ll do more. But you can create square count in your own games or from published diagrams to build your overall skill. With some practice you should be able to visualize s/c during your own game play or taking part in by following an exhibition game on the tube.
In chess positions many things must be weighed. You have open lines as in the above example; you might weigh the pawn structure; you may weigh the power of the bishop pair or or Knight outpost; if one side has won the Exchange and how it relates to the position at hand as good, equal or unclear. All of this gets stored as a learning process in your own computer (your brain). The more experience you gather, the wiser choices you will find are made available during a game.