Which side is in a better position here : white or black ? Is White controlling this game as all rook, knight, bishop, queen are in open position now ? What are the chances for black to come back ?

[fen "rn1qk2r/1p1b1pp1/pPp1p1np/P1PpP1b1/3P4/1Q3N1P/1B1NBPP1/R3R1K1 w Qkq - 0 1"]
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    Just out of curiosity - how did that knight get to f1?
    – Brandon_J
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 22:35
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    @bof gah, that's my fault (fixed, thank you). (the last move in the original image was Ng6, btw)
    – Brandon_J
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 22:52
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    @bof Presumably, Brandon means f8. The version of the diagram originally included in the question showed the last move as ... Nf8-g6. Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 23:24
  • Whose move is it ? It makes quite a big difference here, between "Black is losing" and "Black is much worse".
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 12:25

4 Answers 4


Yes, white is better in this position, because it controls more space. The black position is somewhat cramped, particularly the queenside pieces (Bd7, Nb8, Ra8) are difficult to develop.

The queenside pawns are blocked so the play is going to happen on the kingside. (there might be some tactical ideas for white in the far future related to a piece sacrifice on a6 or c6 creating a strong passed pawn on b6; but for the time being nothing is going to happen on the queenside.)

Typical plans for white in this position:

  • quickly move pieces to the kingside before black can develop any counterplay
  • potentially exchange the active black pieces (such as Bg5).
  • create a pawn break/pawn storm with f4-f5 at some point

Typical plans for black:

  • develop queenside pieces
  • create some kind of counterplay (perhaps playing f6 at some point later on, without weakening the e6 pawn or kingside pawn structure; having played h6 already is rather bad in this case)

Without giving any concrete lines it seems to me that the white plan is much easier to achieve than black's

  • I strongly disagree with this line: potentially exchange the active black pieces (such as Bg5). Exchanges would relieve Black's cramped position; to emphasize the space advantage, White should repel the opponent's pieces but not exchange them. The best move in the diagram is 1.Nf1! preventing 1...Bxd2, and if 1...Nf4 then 2.Bd1! followed by g3, f4, shifting the pieces to kingside, and the 'active' Bg5 will just end being passive on e7 on the way on its queen or knights.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 12:18
  • @Evargalo The black bishop of the black player is outside of the pawn change of black, so exchganging it will not give black more space for his cramped pieces. The black squares will get pretty weak for black, if he loses his black bishop. This will increase the attacking opportunities for white. Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 15:36
  • @QEDemonstrandum That would be a correct reasonning in a semi-closed position, but here, withou any open diagonal once a wP appears on f4 the dark-squared bishop will be just as bad as its colleague on d7, and definitely increase Black's suffocation when it lands in e7 (or f8, d8, h6...).
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 16:28

Which side is in a better position here : white or black ?

White is clearly better since he controls more space and is more developed than black.

Is White controlling this game as all rook, knight, bishop, queen are in open position now?

No, White is not controlling the game. There is still all to play for because the queenside is completely blocked and although White's pieces are all developed, as in "off their starting squares", they are not co-ordinated well and are not on very good squares. White needs to regroup his pieces before he is ready to launch an attack. If he allows the kingside to become as blocked as the queenside then it will be a draw. White should not be in a rush to advance his kingside pawns.

What are the chances for black to come back?

Black is cramped for space. He needs to either grab more space or exchange off some pieces. However he must be careful not to exchange his best pieces, in particular his dark squared bishop, BxN would be a mistake. He also needs to complete development.

Ideally he would like to castle queenside and then launch a pawn storm against white's castled king, however that would take far too long to engineer, something like Bc8, Nd7-f8, Bd7, Qe7 (NxB from white would help black, allowing QxN), 0-0-0 is 6 moves which black probably doesn't have.

It is important for Black to consider White's plans and how to counter them. White's obvious next move is Bd3 to open the e rook up and to threaten the black knight on g6, thereby discouraging black from moving his f pawn.

Meanwhile either f6 or f5 is key for black to either try and counter the white center or to try and create space on the kingside for his pieces to move and develop, particularly his white-squared bishop which is currently acting like a "tall pawn". Perhaps black should prepare f6 or f5 with moves like 0-0, Be8, Nd7 etc. He must find a way to bring his QR and QN into the game or else he is basically playing a rook and a knight down.



Plug the position into a chess engine and see the evaluation -- probably thinks White is +5 despite material being equal.

It will be decades before Black can mobilize the queen-side pieces. So in essence play can develop where White will have over-powering force on the king-side.

As White I would start with 1.g3 (which prevents Nf4), followed by Bd3 -- Black's two active pieces are in trouble. Eventually f2-f4, g3-g4, f4-f5 with the board getting squishy from Black's squashed forces; it almost doesn't matter how White pushes on the king-side -- he just moves everything over there.

Black will never break Whites Pawn wall. Even if he gets in f7-f6 the e5 square is firmly under Whites control.

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    It's about +4, FWIW.
    – Brandon_J
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 22:37
  • Board position suggests black to move due to radical involving the black bishop and white knights. I agree that white to move here is really bad for black.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 22:40
  • Agreed. This is dead lost. It may take 20 moves, but black should get executed on the k-side, and if somehow he survives the attack, he has to worry about potential piece sacs for two pawns on a6 too. Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 21:14

White has a much better position, but all is not lost for black.

...   BxN!
NxN   O-O
NB3   PB3

White's position still looks better, but black's not too far behind.

BQ1   PB4

and black has enough time to maneuver his pieces over. Best he can hope for is a draw.

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