The Center and The Fork Trick C50 & C55

The term center describes the squares, d4,e4, vs d5,e5. It is also used in the sense of the PAWN CENTER, meaning the pawn formation on these squares.

The squares d3,e3 vs d6,e6 are sometimes referred to respectively as White's and Black's SEMI-CENTER.

The center including the surrounding squares is usually called the CENTRAL ZONE.

The pawn formation in and around the center is fundamental for the character of the game and requires consideration from many angles. We could therefore deviate from the practice of discussing this from just one heading but demonstrate its significance at many points in many ways and from different angles.

By now it should be sufficiently clear how very important the center is, and how the pieces depend on it to varying degrees. The knights depend on it very much as they need squares in the central zone equally. Also remember that a knight in the center has command of 8 squares while on the rim only commands half as many squares. The Bishops inasmuch as interference by center pawns is most harmful to them. The Rooks indirectly because center pawns would normally be the first to clash and produce pawn levers. The powerful Queen not at all. And the vulnerable King only in the end-game for possible need in the central zone.

However there is one item concerning the center, which we must discuss separately. It is a little combination of the pattern called the "SACRIFICE-FORK-RECOVERY".

The Fork Trick

My Chessbase MegaDataBase has the earliest game using it between Keres and Karh in Helsinki in 1935 in which Keres who used it won that game as White. You can view that game below.

Fork Trick 1

The fork trick may occur in any part of the pawn realm, and in any stage of the game. It does occur however almost exclusively in the center, and in the opening stage of the game at that, for it is there and then that the opportunity most frequently arises.

An opportunity it is because the fork trick normally improves the position leading either from equality to a slight superiority, as it usually does if applied White, or from a slight inferiority to equality, which it promises if applied by Black.

The regular characteristics of the fork trick are:

1. It takes place in the opening
2. It starts with the temporary sacrifice of the K-Knight for the K-pawn on the fourth rank
3. It continues with the immediate acceptance of the sacrifice after which the Q-pawn forks Knight and Bishop.
4. It nets improvement in the center leading, for instance, from the symmetrical pawn formation, d2, e4 vs. d7, e5 to the unsymmetrical pawn jump formation of just e4. This e4 pawn now attacks the important central squares of d5 and e5.

Deviations from this pattern may lead to irregular results. However, the fork trick also depends on the kind of center formation it starts with. White, because of the aggressive attitude he is supposed to take in the center, is more often exposed to the fork trick than black. For one thing the fork trick, like the fork lever, is apt to destroy a center duo, and it is usually White who faces this possibility . Normally, it is only in the symmetrical formation of e4 vs. e5 that a chance of the fork trick may arise for either side.

We now can examine a examples of the fork trick by black.
Fork Trick 2

The Fork Trick Games
G,Brown - G,Thomas
Kostrhoun,P - Pokomy,J
Keres,P - Karh,O
Janetschek,K - Sapre,R
Radulov,I - Tarnowski.A
Hagesaether,H - Johannessen,S