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How to measure centre-control in chess

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How can we determine who has more control of the center? Determining who has an advantage in the centre can often be a fairly subjective opinion but an effective way to do it is to compare two important aspects of the position:

  1. Amount of pawns that influence the center
  2. Amount of pieces that influence the center

Example: How to measure centre-control in chess

Comparing the amount of pawns and pieces that influence the center is a practical way to estimate the amount of center-control each player has:

how to compare centre control in chess

In the example diagram above we can apply this simple comparison to determine who has better center-control. White has more pawns that directly influence the center (3 to 2).

White has 4 pieces that affect the center (all the pieces except the rooks), whereas black has 3 pieces doing the same (Note how Be7 obstructs the role of the Re8.

Note: The amount of pawns that influence the centre often carries more weight than the amount of pieces that do the same. The reason for this is that pawns are very effective at controlling squares (due to their low value, ie. you don’t want to exchanges pieces for pawns).

Therefore we can conclude that in this position white has an advantage in the center-control objective.

In the following lessons and examples you will develop a good understanding of center-control and discover some techniques that will help you achieve your objective of controlling the central squares. The exercises in the exercise-section will also help you practice how to evaluate progress made in the objective of center control.

Next Lesson – The advantages of centralizing your chess pieces

Previous Lesson – Objectives in Chess: Control the Centre

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