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What Is Space in Chess?

Learn about the role of space in chess from Chess NYC in this Howcast video.


Hi, Coach Tal here with Chess NYC and today, I'm gonna be talking to you about space. Space is basically the amount of squares you have available to your pieces. Take, for example, this typical opening position. If we look here, white has more squares for his pieces and therefore more space. He has this entire rank as well as these two squares and possibly some here. For now, we're gonna ignore counting our opponent's squares. Black, as you can see, has fewer squares along the third rank and fourth ranks because white's pawn stifles him.

I like to think of space as like a pie. When we start the game, we have eight guys and eight pieces of pie. As the game progresses, I may take space and therefore, take some of your pie. Now, let's say I have nine pieces of pie and you have seven, but we still both have eight guys and now they're hungry and they're gonna have to fight over the same pie or, in this case, space. So, let's look at what I mean. White, with all his extra space, can find a natural square to develop all his pieces to, while black's pieces, some may find natural squares, but others, for instance this knight and bishop, now have to fight over the same square where they would both like to be developed.

When you have a space advantage, you would like to avoid trades. White here, for instance, would not be happy trading his knight for black's because then, all of black's pieces would be able to easily find squares.

In conclusion, space will cramp your opponent and don't trade your pieces, 'cause that lets him off the hook.

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