Winning with the Point Count System

If you have not yet read Making Plans, do so now. You will need to know about imbalances before you read this treatise.

The Space Count System
You have learned that to win you may need to engage in vicious attacks and use a simple but highly effective method of simply capturing all of your opponents pieces. Now its time to learn about a different method: Simply squeezing your opponent to death. To squeeze an opponent, you must first acquire a significant advantage in space.

When you have the advantage in space, you control more territory than your opponent. Your pieces have more squares to choose from than the enemy pieces, which are severely restricted in their movements. By applying the principle of space, you can win a game by taking so much space away from your opponent that all he can do is pace back and forth in his little cell, waiting for you to proceed with the execution.

The space count system enables you to count the squares your pieces and pawns control to determine whether you or your opponent controls more territory. At the beginning of a game, the board is more or less divided in half. White is said to own the squares in the a1 - a4 - h4 - h1 rectangle. Black owns everything in the a8 - a5 - h5 - h8 rectangle. The space count system kicks in when one of you goes beyond these "personal" squares and starts to take control of territory in the enemy's domain.

Lets look at an example from an imaginary opening. White moves his pawn to 1.d4 d5 2.e4 Nd7 3.Nf3 e6 4.e5 Now we will count the white space count. Remember we are only interested in the squares beyond the 4th rank. The pawn on e5 controls d6 and f6 into black's territory for two squares. The White Bishop on c1 breaks into Blacks territory on g5 and h6 for two more squares for a total space count of 4 so far. Squares d2 e3 and f4 don't count because they are already considered part of white's territory. The White Knight on c3 attacks squares b5 and d5 for two more squares to bring the space count total to 6. That's it for the White pieces.

Next we'll count the Black's squares. His Bishop hits two squares, b4 and a3 for two squares. No other Black pieces lash out at squares in White's territory, so lets turn our attention to his pawn on d5, the only pawn that can stake a claim in White's space controls c4 and e4 for two more squares. Black's total is 4. Therefore, White has a space count advantage of 2.

Of course, space is just one of the factors to be considered when evaluating a position. Others are the different imbalances listed in Making Plans and using pawn structures.

To use your space advantage you must make your pieces more mobile than your opponent's. Rooks need to go on open files to be effective. Don't hem in your Bishops behind pawns. They need to be on open diagonals if they are to reach their full potential. You should place your pawns and your Bishops on squares of opposite colors. Knights are not long-ranged pieces like Bishops and Rooks. This does not mean that Bishops are better than Knights, it just means that you must move your Knights to an advanced square if you want it to reach its full potential. Because of the Knight's unique ability to jump over other pieces, it does not need to open up the battle lines like the Bishop, Rook and Queen can do. Give your Knight an assignment in an advanced outpost and they will wreak havoc on the enemy at every opportunity. Often a Knight is protected by a pawn in the advanced outpost to increase its resilience to attack.

! How to Gain a Space Advantage
Rather than waste your time memorizing openings, you will do better to keep yourself fresh and play every opening move with particular goals in mind. With every turn you must ask yourself whether you are:

1.	Acquiring a superior force in some part of the board.
2.	Gaining a lead in development.
3.	Improving your pawn structure.
4.	Gaining space.

The player with less space should try to trade some pieces. Don't let yourself get squeezed by your opponent into a cramped position. You may find it helpful to think of a cramped position as being like overpopulation. Twenty people in a small house are crowded and very uncomfortable. Two people in the same house have all the space they need.

Now lets put it all together and see how to win with the Point Count System.
Point Count Chess

In assessing the game to find who has the advantage you need to look at the plus and minus points of the position using the Imbalances they we talked about in Making Plans. Let us look more closely at these imbalances for the plus and minus points.

Plus Points

1.	Control of the Center.
2.	Pawn on the fourth rank vs. Pawn on the third.
3.	Mobile pawn wing.
4.	Strong outpost station
5.	Superior development
6.	Greater space
7.	Bishop-pair
8.	Half-open file
9.	Control of useful open file
10.	Rook(s) on the seventh rank
11.	Passed pawn
12.	Outside passed pawn
13.	Protected passed pawn
14.	Advanced pawn
15.	Qualitative pawn majority
16.	Advanced pawn chain
17.	Advanced salient piece that stands out conspicuously from the rest in attacking power.
18.	Better king position (castled king)
19.	Offside pawn majority
20.    Using Pawn Levers

Minus Points
---- Weak Pawns----

1.	Backward pawns
2.	Doubled pawn
3.	Isolated pawn
4.	Hanging pawns
5.	Hanging phalanx
6.	Crippled majority wing

----Weak Squares----

1.   "Weak square complex"
2.	Holes
3.	Comprised King-side
4.	Cramped position
5.	Bad Bishop

By adding and subtracting points you can assess who has the advantage. A five point advantage may be all you need, to win with this Point Count Method. If you find that all you need is a few more points to win you can try to offset the difference with the above list of adding points to your side and subtracting. points from your opponents side.

Now if you combine the Point Count Method with the Space Count System and add and subtract the total points you will have a good estimate of who is ahead and what you need to do if you are behind to catch up.

If you find that it is impossible to remember the plus points and minus points scheme in the Point Count Method another suggestion is to compare the pairs of pieces: compare your King and your opponent's King, then your Queen and your opponent's Queen, etc., thereby assessing who stands better.

Another suggestion is to add up the legal moves available to the pieces on each side. You can also add up the territory you control, the squares behind your Pawns.

In any case if you think that the Point Count System is just formulaic and complicated, just knowing the importance of how a game can be won or lost through key strategic play and using sound concepts in using the basics of chess can be extremely helpful. These concepts are more concerned with thinking of how to plan your strategic play than with specific moves, obtaining more space than your opponent, etc. Plans that emphasize sound pawn play over brilliant combinations will give you answers to the question on what do I do now?

Most books on chess strategy are so blurred with complicated variations and options that they confuse more than they educate. They encourage the memorization of variations in place of thinking about the sound planing of pawn structures for example.

Another very powerful advantage you can obtain over your opponent is by spending time with the Point Count System, the knowledge you will have in knowing about how important creating an imbalance is. Remember that the accumulation of many small imbalances can add up as a big plus for you just as the number of negative imbalances against your opponent can subtract from his position on the board.

Every time you study something new about basic pawn play your going to know something more about creating a pawn imbalance than your opponent. He may be thinking more about the tactics involved of how to mate your king or taking material than planing a sound pawn structure for example. He may be thinking of how quickly can he win this game and get more points than if his king will be a strategic factor in the end game with the present pawn structure.

Just take another look at the Point Count System. Its mostly concerned with pawn play. If we take out all the pawn play and just look at the rest of it we find that there is not much else to think about.

1.	Control of the center
2.	Strong outpost station
3.	Superior development
4.	Greater space
5.	Open files
6.	Rooks on the seventh rank
7.	Pieces on strategic squares
8.	King placement and King safety
9.	Weak squares
10.	Bad bishop

That's it, not much else really to think about if you take out all the pawn plays. So how important is pawn play to winning a game? I think this study says much about the importance of learning about the weapons of chess in the strategy of pawn play.

Now go back and reread Making Plans again, with the new knowledge you have just gained, that article will now jell into a totally new concept for you to use to improve your chess skills with.