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NOTE: This page is a compilation of two articles that originally appeared in the IECC Journal. Because they're informative but hard to find I have reproduced them here.

Klubeck On War by Martin Klubeck

Sore loserAs a US Air Force Officer, I'm a student of warfare. Chess is the greatest possible training for warfare strategy, and at the cheapest cost. With this in mind, in these articles I plan to use my own training in warfare strategy to help you understand the Why's of a series of instructive games.

I'm going to introduce you to a method of analysis which you can use during the game (even in over-the-board games), one which I use when I teach or coach chess. It should be especially useful for e-mail games. But simply knowing the right thing to do is not enough: you have to do it, too. I didn't follow the advice I'm going to give you in this first game (but in a future article I hope to show you a game in which I did!).

When I was asked to analyze this game, my first thought was to punch out a jumble of alternative move lists with some wit thrown in from time to time - this is how I usually see analysis in magazines, especially if the loser has written it: a brief primer on the opening, and usually a lot of excuses for the writer losing the game (e.g. distractions, earlier losses, not enough sleep, poor tournament directors, etc.). I decided a completely different, and honest approach would be more helpful.

What are the major principles for analysis? How do you know if you're winning and what plans you should make? The basic measures of success during a game are material, development, king safety, control of the center, space and pawn structure.


Material is first because it is the simplest to measure. How many pieces do you have vs. how many does your enemy have? If you are up 3 points or more (for example up a full knight or bishop) look for a possible quick finish, but not at the expense of the game. Try to use your advantage to gain more material or a mate.


Developing a positionThis concept is mostly useful in the opening and middlegame. It must be judged a little subjectively: how many pieces do you have developed on the board vs. the number your opponent has? The subjectivity comes in determining if the pieces are well developed. A simple example is the king's knight: if you don't move it at all, it's undeveloped; if you move it to h4, it's not as well developed as at e2, nor as well as at f3. So, the best place to develop the king's knight (in general) is to f3. If you find yourself ahead in development by two or more pieces (and remember: pawns aren't developed, they're just pushed), look for chances of combination and sacrifices. If you're ahead at all in development, in effect you have a lead in material until the opponent catches up, so take advantage of it while you have it!

King Safety

This is another easy one to judge. Is your king behind three unmoved pawns? In other words have you castled? Is your castled position strong or weak? Is there a defending piece nearby to keep the king safe? Of course, if your king is floating around the center of the board when nearly all the pieces are still on the board, you won't survive for long. If your opponent has two or more weaknesses around his king, then concentrate on looking for an attack.

Control of the Center

The question I usually get from students is "Why?" If you control the center, you will have the initiative. You'll be able to travel more quickly from one side of the board to the other. You'll be able to dictate where the battles occur. The four squares, e4, e5, d4 and d5 comprise the center. If you are ahead by two or more points in the center, try to gain space and to develop pieces for combinations on occupied squares. This is not always easy to count, so let's do one quick example. (I advise you to set up a board.)

Karpov-KorchnoiIn the French, after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5, we have a simple situation to count. Consider the square e4: while White occupies the square, he has no pieces or pawns controlling or attacking it; Black's d5 pawn is attacking it, though. Therefore Black is up 1 to 0. On e5, White's d4 pawn is attacking, and Black has no pieces or pawns defending, so the square is 1 to 0 in favor of White. The total so far is therefore 1 to 1. On d4, White occupies, but does White attack the square? Yes, with the queen. Does Black? No. Therefore White is now ahead 2 to 1. The last central square, d5, is attacked once by White's pawn on e4 and twice by Black (queen and e-pawn), therefore Black owns that square, and the total point count is 2 to 2: control of the center is equal. (This is, in fact, why the French is a playable defense even though Black is behind in terms of space.)


Space is judged as the number of squares controlled on the fourth rank or deeper into the opponent's territory. In our French example we see that White controls b5 (king's bishop) f4 (queen's bishop), g4 and h5 (queen), d4 and e5 (as we saw above). Therefore White controls 6 squares on or beyond the 4th rank. Black controls h4 (queen), b4 (bishop), and e4. This gives White a space advantage of 6 to 3: not bad at the start of the game, and why the French plays out the way it does: White instinctively fights to control more of the space (see the advanced variation) while Black tries to change this, albeit patiently. If you're up 3 points or more in space, try to control the advantage (rather than overreach and grab more territory than you can hope to control), and build an attack. Look for opportunities to cramp your opponent or develop a combination to win material.

Pawn Structure

ForkedThe last criterion is probably also the hardest to assess. It's usually a fluid situation: you have to keep an eye on it, because it can change easily and quickly. You have to analyze the potential situation after you've pushed or traded that pawn before you put your hand on it! Some simple counting ways to measure this complex issue: -1 for an isolani (isolated pawn); -2 for doubled pawns; -3 for a double isolani; -2 for backward pawns on or beyond the 4th rank; +2 for a deep pawn chain or cramping pawns; +3 for a passed pawn on or beyond the fourth rank. These are only general principles for measuring. Doubled pawns can sometimes be strong, and an isolani can become a passed pawn quickly, so be careful with this one. If you find yourself up 5 or more points in pawn structure, look for a way to kill your opponent. Simplify to the point where you can take advantage of his pawn weaknesses, but don't indiscriminately simplify to a point where your advantages can't be brought home.

Now to this month's War Game ... which features a rather unusual opening, the Colorado Counter.

(Download game in PGN)

[Event "M-1266.2"]
[Site "IECC"]
[Date "1997.10.05"]
[White "Smith, James"]
[Black "Klubeck, Martin"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1942"]
[BlackElo "1960"]
[ECO "B00"]
[Reference "Ceremonies of the Horsemen #1"]
[Annotator "Martin Klubeck, 1934 (2/27/98)"]
[Opening "King's Pawn, Colorado Counter"]

1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 f5 3.exf5 d5 4.d4 Bxf5 5.Bb5 e6

{Note that Black does not react to White's pin in the hasty manner of 5...Bd7 or 5...Qd7?, but chooses to free the king bishop instead.}


{White could saddle Black with doubled pawns, and an isolani on the a-file, by taking the knight, but again, development is more important.}

6...Bd6 7.Bg3 Nge7

{This is one of the interesting points in the opening: should Black play the knight to f6, usually the best square, or to e7, where it protects both the knight on c6 and the bishop on f5?}


{Not developing: I prefer O-O immediately.}


{Let's start our proper analysis here. The combatants are equal in material - told you it was easy to measure. Let's check development: Black is actually ahead. The queen knight is undeveloped, and the knight on h4, while attacking f5, is out on the rim - "a knight on the rim is mighty grim." White has yet to castle, so it will take two moves to get the queen off the back row and connect the rooks. So, Black is ahead by 1.5 points. It goes up to 2.0 points if you count the White knight as poorly placed.}

{So, based on this, what should White do? What should Black do? White should try to catch up in development. Black should see if he can make the knight on h4 look bad and thereby become further ahead. If Black's king knight were on f6 now, he could play Bg4, either maintaining the bishop or enticing White to play f3, hurting his king's safety.}

{Speaking of king safety, what's the count? Well Black's f-pawn is gone, but White hasn't yet castled. After White castles, he will have all three pawns in place, and a bishop and a knight in the area to protect the king, so Black is ahead only if White doesn't castle. On the center control, Black is ahead 2-0 in control points, but this, as usual, is a tenuous situation. On space, White has 3 vs. Blacks 2 and is therefore ahead, but by only one point. And in pawn structure, Black has a backward pawn on e6, so White is ahead by two points. Bottom line? Neither side has a decisive advantage, yet. But they both can see the pluses they should try to increase and the weaknesses they should try to decrease.}


{That was a quick swing: now Black is down in king safety 0-1.}


Position after 9...Ng6

{Did Black help his situation here? Let's check the analysis changes: material is the same; Black is up only 1 point in development due to the yet-to-be-developed queen knight. What should Black have done? To maintain or increase the advantage in development, he needed to move the queen off the back row and/or improve the placement of the knight on e7. The move 9...a6 was feasible so that if 10.Bxc6, 10...Nxc6 and the queen can move out on the d8/h4 diagonal. Other possibilities were 9...Qd7 or 9...Qe8 with the plan to move off the back row. The last, and perhaps the worst, choice was to play the text move, so that the queen is freed and the knight moved to a better square. The problem is that 9...Ng6 doesn't attend to the weakness in pawn structure. It reduces the advantage White has in space, but we'll see what actually happened ...}

10.Nxf5 exf5

{So far, 9...Ng6 doesn't look so bad: he's removed the backward pawn on e6; he's equalized in center control; he's also doing much better in space. So, what went wrong?}


{Using our analysis, why was this necessary? Well, the simple threat of f4 to win material enticed the trade. The other choice, 11.f3, weakens the king's safety.}

11...Qxd6 12.c3 f4?

{Until here, it wasn't bad for Black. He was ahead in the center 3 to 1. Now Black strives for more space and possible tactical threats. The problem is that the tactical threats are obvious, especially in e-mail play. Black also lessened the scope of the queen on d6 and improved the potential for White's bishop. The move played here fails to take advantage of White's lack of development. The proper approach may have been 12...a6, with a view to expanding the play on the queenside.}

13.Nd2 Nce7 14.Re1 c6 15.Bd3 c5?

{Black was looking quite good with 14...c6, although 13...Nce7 was probably a wasted move in that it undeveloped the knight. The irrational fear was the wish to put a rook on e8 without creating the pin for White. Again, 13...a6 or simply 13...Re8 was called for. The primary thing to look at is the pawn structure for Black. His king safety is a minus 1, he is down a half point in material - a bishop is worth 3.5 in an open game which is what Black is allowing it to become - and White's development is better. It should be obvious why f4 was a bad move by Black. That bishop is looking very good.}

16.dxc5 Qxc5

{So, 15...c5 allowed White to weaken Black's pawn structure and to create an isolani on the d-file. I remember thinking at the time of some tactical shots, and playing a little bit with rose-colored glasses on. I neglected to see the possibilities for White. Even though I was blinded with my own plans, I should have played by the principles discussed earlier. If I had used the method of measurement above, I would have realized that the game was, at best, an equal proposition, with White in fact having most of the chances. With this realization I would have played for a draw back at move 12. The problem was that I thought I had fighting chances when I should have been prepared for positional play.}

{The remainder of the game is an example of how to take advantage of the weaknesses that Black inflicted on himself.}


{I thought 17.Nf3 would do the same, but since the text move immediately chases the queen, it may be more direct.}


{I felt that the imagined tactical possibilities had already vanished.}

18.Nd4 Rf6 19.Qh5 Nf8 20.Re2 Rh6 21.Qg5 Rf6

{It's hard to resign when the material is still even. And this is proper: you should make your opponent prove the win. It is less likely that they'll let you get back into an e-mail game, but it's still worth playing on, to learn proper techniques.}

22.Rae1 Neg6 23.h4 h6 24.Qg4 f3 25.Nxf3 Nf4 26.Re3 Nxd3 27.Rxd3 Nd7 28.Rde3 Raf8 29.Re7 R8f7 30.Rxf7 Rxf7 31.Re6 Qf4 32.Re8+ Nf8 33.Qe6 Qc1+ 34.Kh2 Qf4+ 35.Kh3 Qf5+ 36.Qxf5 Rxf5 37.Kg3 Rf6 38.Nd4 Rd6 39.Re7 1-0

Final position

Final position

{The point I was demonstrating with the above game was that you should analyze the game based on measures of success that are objective and clear. I have tried to set out a formula to use. In the next game I analyze, I'll show you how to build a chart and use it at the proper times during the game.}

Part II

As promised in the previous issue, I'll be finishing up on my method of analysis. Now we take what we learned about analyzing a position based on our major principles. These principles include material, development, king safety, control of the center, space, and pawn structure. This issue, I'll introduce the table I use for analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of a position

King Safety
Pawn Structure


First, let's review how you assign values to each of these principles. For material, determine the value of pieces you have vs. value of pieces your enemy has, remembering that he or she is your enemy - this is war. If you are up 3 points or more look for a possible quick finish, but don't take silly risks. You can lose even when ahead in material by playing too passively or too wildly. Remember that the point count is based on a value system for each piece pawns = 1, knights = 3, bishops = 3.5, rooks = 5 and queens = 10.


For development we look at how many pieces you have developed on the board vs. the number your opponent has, and how well they are developed.

I basically give a point for every piece that is "well" developed, a half a point for weak development and no points for poor development. In a general sense this means that if you develop your knight to a2, I'd count it as not developed. How about a3? Well, I may give a half a point, but probably not. Of course you may be planning to move it from a3 to a strong post at b5 or c4 or even back to c2, but while it is at a3, I give it 0.5 at best. This is a bit subjective, and you have to learn to determine well developed vs. poorly developed, but hey, I never said it would be easy!

King Safety

For king safety we check to see if you've castled. Is your castled position strong or weak? Is there a defending piece nearby to keep the king safe? I give a plus sign (or a zero) if you have castled behind three unmoved pawns and you have at least one piece near by defending. I give a minus 0.5 for the lack of a defender. I give a minus 1.0 for every pawn moved and another minus 1.0 (total of 2.0) if the pawn is no longer on the board. This means that if your king is out in the middle of the board trying to commit suicide, I'd give you a minus 6.5 - no protection.

Center Control

For center control, we count control of the four squares e4, e5, d4 and d5. Count how many times you attack the square and how many times your opponent attacks the same square. If you have more pieces attacking the square,you get a point. If you both equally own the square you each get a half point. Remember, occupying the square does not count as an attack on the square.


To determine spatial advantage, we do the same kind of counting as for the center squares, except we count the number of squares controlled on the fourth rank or deeper into the opponent's territory.

Pawn Structure

For pawn structure give a minus 1 for an isolani (isolated pawn); -2 for doubled pawns; -3 for a double isolani; -2 for backward pawns on or beyond the 4th rank; +2 for a deep pawn chain or cramping pawns; +3 for a passed pawn on or beyond the fourth rank.

That was a quick review of what we covered last issue. For more detail, refer back to the last article. The next step is to use the table to determine a course of action. Before you decide that this table is the end-all, be-all for analysis, I have to stress something the most important use of this table is in the fact that it gets you objectively to assess the position and think about where your strengths and weaknesses lie. It doesn't matter if you use a formula (like the one I'm about to give you) or not - the biggest benefit is that you can form a plan based on the position. While psychology, ability, and even personal tendencies can and do affect every game, you often can't study those. You can study issues based on the principles of analysis I've laid out.

Here we go. A short version of what we covered last issue

1. If you are up 3 or more points in material, look for a quick finish. Remember, three points only assures a draw if you get rid of all the other pieces on the board (unless the three points are in the form of pawns).

2. If you are up 2 or more points in development, look for combinations and sacrifices. You should have the advantage, see if you can use it before your opponent catches up.

3. If you are up 2 or more points in king safety, look for an attack on the king's position.

4. If you are up 2 or more points in the center, look to advance in space and to develop along owned squares toward a combination. Try to maintain your advantage. Look for posts for knights.

5. If you are up 3 or more points in space, look to build an attack. Look for combinations to win material. Look for squares deep in enemy territory to post your knights.

6. If you are up 5 or more points in pawn structure, look to finish your opponent off. Most times you should be able to win more material (pawns) due to the weakness. Don't simplify too early and lose the fire power necessary to attack the pawn weaknesses.

That's it! Let's get to a game. Remember, I'm not as interested in looking into alternative lines (if x then y, but if j then k) as I am in analyzing the principles at given times in the game. These times in the game should relate to when you should be looking for a plan, or for moves which may swing the game in one direction or the other.

(Download game in PGN)

[Event "M-1492.1"]
[Site "IECC"]
[Date "1997.12.31"]
[White "Smith, James"]
[Black "Brooks, Mark"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Reference "Ceremonies of the Horsemen #2"]
[Annotator "Martin Klubeck, 1934 (3/25/98)"]
[Opening "Bird's Opening"]

1.f4 b6 2.Nf3

{Andrew Soltis gives 2.b3 Bb7 3.Bb2 in his book, Bird-Larsen Attack, Chess Digest Inc., 1989}

2...Bb7 3.b3 Nf6 4.c4

{This is not in keeping with the spirit of the Bird's Opening. Bird's Opening is essentially a Dutch Defense in reverse, and d5 by Black is expected and wanted. 4.c4 makes the game go in a different flavor}

4...c5 5.Nc3

{This early placement of the QN is also not commonly seen in the Bird's Opening. Bb2 is usually played with e3 and placement of the QN is reserved until later. Notice how both players are playing "modern" no center pawns have been touched! Let's look at the table.}

King Safety-10
Pawn Structure-10

Let's review how we calculated these scores. Material is even. If knights have been traded, you could give each player a score of 3.0, or since it is even, you could just use dashes again. Both players have two minor pieces developed (2.0 each - or dashes). White has a weakened kingside (a risk you take in the Bird's Opening), thus the -1. In the center White owns e5 and shares d4 and d5. Black owns e4 and shares d4 and d5. Hence 1 + .5 +0.5 = 2 for each player. Space is the number of squares owned outright equal to and past the fourth rank. You can (and should) pay special attention to the squares you share since these may be opportunities for you to gain the advantage by turning a shared square into one you own. On pawn structure, I gave White a minus one for the two unmoved center pawns. This is subjective, but I feel White is threatened with having a backward pawn in the center, and making it difficult for him to form a strong pawn structure. Giving White a minus one for the two unmoved pawns in the center, is more a means of pointing out the dangers than to prompt a plan by Black - although it could very well be made to work that way. For example, Black may find, by analyzing the table, that he should find a way to occupy the center and keep Whites pawns back, ore even better (for Black) - entice other White pawn weaknesses around the center.

A new twist from last issue is the concept of point totals. This is useful to determine who is winning, a question I am always asked by students. If you are ahead by 5 or more points overall, I'd say you were clearly winning. Let's see how this pans out.


{How does ...g6 change the nature of the analysis? Besides the fact that it gives a good square for the king bishop, it takes control of two more squares on the fourth rank or deeper (f5 and h5) and increases Black's space total to 7. Black is now ahead by three points.}

6.Bb2 Bg7 7.e3

{So far so good, for each player. They are still equal in development, but now White has gained control of the d4 square. Notice that once you have done a grid, you can refer back to how it changed or is changing as opposed to doing the grid from scratch. You can watch how the momentum or control of the game shifts.}

7...O-O 8.Be2

{This is one of the rare occasions that White can develop the king bishop to d3, blocking the d2 pawn! How would this change the situation?}

IssueWhite (Be2)Black (Be2)White (Bd3)Black (Bd3)
King Safety-10-10
Center2.5 1.531
Pawn Structure0000

{I took away the minus one for White's pawn position since he has two well based pawn chains now. Notice with Be2, that the bishop has not increased its scope significantly. The move is more of an opportunity to castle than to develop the bishop. Note also that I did not dock Black any points for king safety since the king bishop is standing in for the moved pawn. Of course, if White could trade off this bishop, Black would be at a -1 also.

Very interesting! The difference in the totals swings the initiative from Black being ahead by 1 point to White being ahead by three! Of course it still is based on center control and space - very volatile areas, but important nonetheless. Note that you could also dock White another king safety point for the holes at e2 and f2, if White played Bd3.}

{The analysis table is not intended as a silver bullet, able to kill all monsters with a single, well aimed shot. It is a tool. You still have to make decisions based on the tactics on the board, your strategy (which the tool should help you plan), and your style of play.}

8...Nc6 9.O-O d5

{Black finally plays in the center, gaining the e4 square and now taking a share of the d5 square again. The center count is now 2.5 for Black and 1.5 for White.}


{Again, this is not in keeping with the flavor of the Bird's Opening, and the e3 pawn is now backward - what I warned you about earlier. I think 10.d3 would have maintained the battle, taking back the e4 square and maintaining the pawn chain.}


{Black opens the d-file, gaining another attacker on the d5 square and penetrates deep into White's space.}


Final position

{With this retort, we see a change in the board. I think White had to play 11.Bxc4. We'll look at the grid again}

King Safety-10
Pawn Structure-20

{While White is only down one point (isolani on a2 and backward pawn at e3), the game at this time is very fluid. While White's strengths are in center control and space, neither of these look to be long term advantages since those points are based on pawns that are likely to be traded. This is especially true in light of Black's strengths in pawn structure and king safety. By our table, White's mission should be to increase his space and lock in stone his control of the center, while Black's mission is to increase the weaknesses in White's pawns and strike at the king. As we will discuss at length in future articles, White's job is much harder.}


{You should again quickly check to see how the game changes after this one move. Black uncovers his Bishop on g7, attacking the e5 and d4 squares while simultaneously shifting his attack on the e4 and d5 squares to e3 and d4. Ah, the beauty of the knight! The immediate danger is a loss of material on e3. By the way, this weakness on e3 is a constant worry in Bird's Opening.}


{This is an attempt to protect e3 and block the fourth attacker (the queen) from d4. Unfortunately the knight is easily pushed with e6. This ends up looking like the mistake that costs White the game, but in truth the game-losing mistakes were made at 10.d4 and 11.bxc4. Don't believe me? Go back and review the analysis after move 10!}

12...e6 13.h4 Nh6

{Not necessary. It gave White hope due to the ill-placed knight. I think Nf6 was good enough and clearer. Even after the trades, White's pawn structure should spell a loss.}

14.Nc3 cxd4 15.exd4 Nxd4

{Creating two isolani for White. -2 total. Also h4 was another negative in the king safety department. What's the score now?}

King Safety-20
Pawn Structure-20

{Wow big edge for Black, even though the game is still very fluid. But the telling counts are in material and pawn structure!}

16.g4 Nxf3+ 17.Bxf3 Bxf3

{So, accordingly, when up 6 points after move 15, Black looks to trade off the hardware and go for a won endgame}

18.Qxf3 Qd4+ 19.Kh1 Qxc4 20.f5

{Not a bad move in the midst of defeat! Black cannot take the pawn with his g- or e-pawns due to g5 trapping the knight, and since Black cannot take, the knight becomes a non-developed piece. This gives White a fighting chance, but lack of king safety and weak pawn structure prove too much in the end.}

20...Rac8 21.f6 Bh8 22.Ne4 Rfd8 23.Qf4 Qd3 24.Nf2 Qb5 25.Rab1 Rc2 26.Ba3 Qd5+ 27.Kg1 g5 28.Qe4 Rxf2 29.Qxd5 Rxf1+ 30.Kxf1 Rxd5 31.Be7 Rd4 32.Rc1 0-1

Final position

I hope you saw that this analysis tool can help in making plans and determining strategy. The next articles will be on how we can learn about war from playing chess and how we can learn about chess from the concepts, principles and tenets of war.

Meanwhile, try out the table. Use it as a teaching tool, study tool and as an analysis tool. I'd love to see a game where a reader uses it throughout an e-mail game to make plans and determine strategies.