What Is Centering in Chess?

Learn about chess centering from Chess NYC in this Howcast video.


Hi. Coach Tal here with Chess NYC. Today I'm going to be talking to you about the center. The center is these four squares on a chessboard, and they are the most important squares on the chessboard. The squares surrounding the center we refer to as the extended center. These are also very important squares.

Let's talk about why the center is so important. The center is important because if we look at our pieces in the center versus anywhere else on the board, we'll see that our pieces function best there. They attack the most possible squares from the center, and they can travel to either part of the board.

From another part of the board, such as the corner, a piece has much less potential. We see that this knight in the corner only attacks two squares and is not able to get to either side of the board, while this knight in the center attacks eight squares and can maneuver easily to all parts of the board.

Another reason the center is so important in chess is because not only do our pieces function best there when we put them there, but so do our opponent's. So, when we control the center, traditionally with pawns, we are able to keep our opponent's pieces from entering the center. This will stop our opponent's pieces from reaching their maximum potential.

Another important reason to have the center is so that you can start an attack. Attacks can only be started after you have a firm grip on the center. One should not attack on the flank of the chessboard until the center is under control. A good principle in chess is, when your opponent attacks on the flank, counter in the center.

That's why the center of the chessboard is so very important.

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