Ideal Squares

The subject of ideal squares is (again) not an exact science, rather it concerns how we get a better feel for the position. From the point of view of a coach discussing a position with a pupil, this is an excellent indicator of positional understanding — or the absence of it.

I mentioned it briefly in Excelling at Chess, where I called it the Christmas exercise. The key idea is that you ask your piece: "Where do you want to go my little friend? What would you like for Christmas?' Remember that this does not refer to what you would like to do overall in the position - that would be a different exercise, which can also be useful. But I like to cut everything down to small pieces before I perform a full analysis.

White's king is fine and the queen is ideal, safe behind its own pawn chain the knight can hop into e4, but to call and hitting the £5-pawn. White's rook these squares ideal would be misleading, would be better on cl but, in the case of Nevertheless, things change, and these a minority attack, might be perfect on pieces are not that badly placed, bl, or even al. The king's rook looks So what can we do with this? Well, we best placed on dl but it is not so easy to can easily identify White's worst placed decided just yet. The bishop is perfect on piece as that which is furthest from its g2 and the king's knight belongs on f4. ideal square. Therefore a possible plan And it is as simple as that. But what could be to redirect the knight to c5 in about the knight on c4? Imagine remov- some way. Here it makes little sense to ing this piece and being able to put it go via cl and b3 as White would then be somewhere else on the board: susceptible to any kind of opening up of the position. So 4k5-d3-c5 seems to be the right direction, and this also eliminates Black's main idea of ...jk,d5 in


White game:

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