BlunderProne pointed out that there is a vast hiatus in my rantings about the game:
Missing in the battle of the piece placement is the need to control the center. This oversight could be explained by the fact that back in the Steinitz’s day ( and Tarrasch), controlling the center with pawns was the main idea while an augmentation of that included indirect control with pieces on the wings through the hypermodern movement. So the question is whether this meme is something to included for piece battle or pawn battle. I believe its ultimately a piece battle issue since I view pawns in the opening and middle game as a “supporting cast” member in the play. In studying the old games, controlling the center was the first priority for both piece and pawn placement. The battle of the center dictates where the players will create secondary weaknesses as they take resources and time to defend or attack the central squares. If one is allowed to “win” the center, then the conversion to a permanent advantage could be realized either through a direct attack on gaining material or checking the King. Under these circumstance, the second player tends to create further weaknesses in pawn structures or inherits a cramping position with much less mobility.
Indeed I haven't given the center a single thought. I must admit that I have only a very vague notion of why the center is so important. Can the importance of the center be derived from my 3 battles (battle of the pieces, battle of the pawns, battle of time) or has it a meaning of its own?
Parts of my theory of piece activity are among others: a safe home for your piece (outpost or from a distance) and a pathway into enemy territory (open lines). Sofar I identified the following issues that are related to the importance of the center:
- Open lines. The open lines don't seem to be of equal value. Some diagonals and some open lines are more important than others. Maybe the most important lines go through the center. On what depends the importance of a line?
- Space. If you have a pawn on d4 and e4 you have a lot of safe space to manoeuvre your pieces behind them from one flank to another.
- Piece placement. They say that pieces are best placed in the center. Of knights that is easy to understand, due to their short range. But for the bishop matters are less clear to me. If a bishop is called a monster it usually stands on a long diagonal.
- Control of squares on the enemy side. Pawns on e4 and d4 stretch their influence into enemy territory. But so do pawns on a4 and b4. Why are the center pawns more important?
- The king is safer on the flank. Why?