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Chess Fundamentals by José Raúl Capablanca

7. Control of the centre

The four squares d4,e4, d5 and e5 are the centre squres, and control of these squares is called control of the centre. The control of the centre is of great importance. No violent attack can be succeed without controlling at least two of these squares, and possibly three. Many a manouvre in the opening has for ots sole object the control of the centre, which invariably ensures the initiative. It is well always to bear this in mind, since it will often be the reason for a series of moves which could not otherwise be properly understood. As this book progresses I shall dwell more fully on this different points.

At present I shall devote some time to openings taken at random and explain the moves according to general principles. The student will in that way train his mind in the proper direction, and will thus have less trouble in finding a way out when confronted with a new and difficut situation.

Example 18.

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The student should carefully study this example. It will show him that it is sometimes convenient to delay castling. I have given the moves as they come to my mind without following any standard book on openings. Whether the moves given by me agree or not with the standard works, I do not know, but at the present stage of this book it is not convenient to enter into discussion of mere tecnicalities which the student will be able to understand when he has become more proficient.

Example 19.

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Second, Black has been compelled to exchange a bishop for a knight, but as a compensation he has isolated White's a-pawn and doubled a pawn. (This, at such an early stage of the game, is rather an advantage for White, as the pawn is doubled towards the centre of the board.)

These examples will show the practical application of the principles previously enunciated. The student is warned against playing pawns in preference to pieces at the begining of the game, especially h3/...h6 and a3/...a6, which are moves very commonly indulged in by beginners.