Friday, February 12, 2010

The Center Game

The first opening we will talk about is the Center Game, which is used by tactical players.  The goal of this article is not to give you a historical development of the opening since you can easily find it elsewhere (for example here:, but to give you its key features.

In this sharp opening, White usually castles on the Queen's Side and Black castles on the King's Side. As a result in many cases White pushes his 'h' pawn to create an attack.  In the game below, White did not.

Hastings, 1894
(Center Game)

1. e4 e5
2. d4 exd4

White's second move has long been discredited because it leads to a loss of time when White's Queen is attacked. Besides, the Queen should not be moved too early in the game. The Queen is the strongest piece on the board and, after the King, she is easily the most valuable.  Be careful about bringing her into battle too soon.  She may herself become the target of an attack.

3. Qxd4 Nc6
4. Qe3 g6
5. Bd2 ...

Not a bad move, if White follows up with 6. Bc3 to neutralize Black's Bishop on the long diagonal -- but he doesn't.

5 ... Bg7
6. Nc3 N8e7
7. 0-0-0 0-0
8. f4  ...

Looks like a good attack, but according to Fred Reinfeld, this move is inferior to 8. Nd5 with a view to Bc3 to neutralize Black's Bishop.

8. ... d5!

Black is threatening d4 and seizes the initiative with this move.

9. exd5 Nb4!
10. Bc4 Bf5!

Every move a threat.

11. Bb3 N7xd5
12. Nxd5 Nxd5
13. Qf3 Qf6!

Another threat. This time...Qxb2 mate.

14. c3 Nb4!

Now, Black threatens Nd3ch followed by Ne5 or Ne1 winning White's Queen.

15. Bc4  ..

15.  ...  Qa6!

The Queen cannot be captured because of Nxa2! mate.

16. g4 Qxa2 !!

Black is unruffled. Now, he threatens Qa1 mate or Qb1 mate, so White makes room for his King.

17. Be3 Bxc3 !!

White resigns, as he is overwhelmed by simultaneous threats: Qa1 mate, Qxb2 mate, Qb1 mate. If Bkack's Bishop is captured, then White mates with Qc2. Black has played with heart-stirring brio.

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