I played a game today where I feel that I had a nice positional advantage (the computer supports my opinion) but I only managed to draw it in the end. This is the position that I consider to be critical:

[fen "2bq1r2/1r1np1kp/pp4p1/2pP1pP1/2P1NQ2/3B3P/PP3P2/R3R1K1 w - - 0 1"]

I am playing White. Here Black played has just played ...f5 and my following moves were Ng3 and h4 (after Rf7). I still had some advantage at that point according to the computer but I lost it a couple of moves later after some inaccuracies. What plan should I have followed? What are White ideas to win in this position?

3 Answers 3


Black is very weak on the black squares, on the e file, his e pawn is very weak and his knight and bishop are short of good squares because of his cramped position.

You should try and get your knight to f4 and double your rooks on the e file. I would start with Nc3. This also helps against Black's obvious plan to undermine your center and give himself more space with b5. You may need to play a4 at some stage to control b5 but your immediate priority should be to double on the e file. Once you control the e file you want to either win his e pawn or invade on the e file.

At the same time your queen can exert more control over black squares in his position, either from h6 or maybe along the long diagonal from b2 or c3.


As stated, White is clearly better here, but it's hard to say if White can force a win in the long run against best play. I like the idea with Nc3 in Brian Towers response a lot, but I'm not sure the idea outlined in that answer is enough to win by itself.

I think that you should combine different ideas. As suggested, working on the h-file is not something to scoff at. Combine a pawn march to h6 with a well-timed Qc3, and Black is completely tied down.

Use pressure on the e-file to restrict Black even further. Play a4 at the right time to prevent counterplay; or play a3 followed by b4 to break up Black's pawn structure on the queenside! As long as a black pawn is on e7, it will be very difficult to coordinate Black's pieces to deal with the resulting pressure.

The more I look at it, the more I like the a3-b4 idea. It's hard to see how Black copes with the pressure. Black may be forced to give up the e7 pawn for nothing.


You should try for a breakthrough on the h file. You will eventually play h5, but you might want to move your king to g2 and double rooks on the file before you push the pawn. Your pieces have better lateral mobility than Black's, which is why you should be thinking of moving your rooks to one end of the board, and finding a way to break through.

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