Take control of the central squares

Focus on controlling the centre in the opening stages of a chess game is one of  the most basic advice given to beginners. One can directly control the centre by occupying crucial central squares or by controlling these central squares. It is important that the pieces do not stray to the sides or the corner of the chess board in the initial stages.

In the game which follows, White castles early on the queen side and it is surprising to see Black straying with his knight to the sides of the chess board rather early. Thereafter it is a struggle for Black to get into the game even as White targets the King side to drag the King out of his castle and then surrounds him with his pieces.

Diagram 1
 Diagram 2



White: Friso Nijboer (2580) – Black: Tomas Bjornsson (2235)
Reykjavik, 1998
Pirc Defence
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3
The Pirc Defence which is one of the closed defences and one can witness some internal manoeuvring in this opening
4. .. Bg7 5.Qd2 Nc6
Black can consider 5. ..Ng4  6.Bf4 e5
6.f3 a6 7.0–0–0
White has castled on the queen side rather early in the game
7. .. b5
An immediate aggressive pawn advance by Black
8.Bh6 0–0
Black plays a novelty here. This was a dangerous decision by Black, especially since White has castled on the queen side. White now has to play aggressively on the King side to launch a major offensive. If 8...Bxh6 9.Qxh6 e5 (9...e6 10.h4 Qe7 11.g4 Bb7 12.Nh3 0–0–0 13.a4 b4 14.Na2 a5 15.Kb1 Kb8 16.c3 bxc3 17.Nxc3 resulted in a victory for White in a previous game)
9.h4
White also wants to launch his King side pawns. He also had a better move in 9.Bxg7
Diagram 1
9. ..Nh5
Surprising move by Black! He should have been trying for counter play at the centre rather than straying on the side of the board. Better was 9. ..e5 or even 9. ..Bxh6  10.Qxh6 e5  11.dxe5 Nxe5
10.Nge2 e5
At least he plays the move now!
11.g4 Bxh6
If 11...exd4 12.Nd5 d3 (12...Bxh6 13.Qxh6 Nf6 14.h5 ) 13.cxd3 Nf6 (13...Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Nf6 15.h5) 14.h5 Nxd5 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.exd5 Ne5 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.Qh6+ Kf6 19.d4 and White is better in all the variations
12.Qxh6 Ng7 13.Nd5
A good move!
13. .. Be6
Perhaps Black could have offered more resistance with 13...f6 14.g5 Nh5  15.gxf6 Nxf6 (15...exd4 16.Nef4 Nxf6 17.Nxg6 hxg6 18.Qxg6+ Kh8 19.Rg1 Rg8 20.Qxf6+ Qxf6 21.Rxg8+ Kxg8 22.Nxf6+) 16.h5 Nxh5 17.Ng3 Rf7 18.Nxh5 gxh5 19.Rg1+ Kh8 20.dxe5 Nxe5 21.f4
14.h5
White continues his aggression
14. .. Bxd5
If 14...Nxd4 15.Nxd4 exd4 16.hxg6 fxg6 17.Qxh7+ Kf7 18.Rh6 works well for White  
15.hxg6 fxg6 16.exd5 Nxd4 17.Nxd4 exd4 18.Qxh7+
After a spate of exchanges, the White queen now breaks through the barriers to come within striking distance of the King
18. .. Kf7 19.Bd3
Attacking relentlessly
19. .. Qf6
If (19...Qg5+ 20.f4 Qxg4 (20...Qxf4+ 21.Kb1) 21.Rhg1 Qxf4+ 22.Kb)
20.Rh6 Qg5+
If 20...Rh8 21.Bxg6+ Ke7 22.Re1+ Kd7 23.Bf5+ Qxf5 24.Qxg7+
21.f4 Qxf4+ 22.Kb1 Qe5 23.Rxg6 Rg8 24.Rf1+ Ke7 25.Re6+ 1–0
Diagram 2
White to play and win
 1.Qxf8+ Kxf8 2.Bh6+ Ke7 and White should win.

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