White is in the presumably better position in the situation below. However, under such conditions (e.g. there are tight formations of many pieces on the board), I find it usually hard to 'breach' the opponent's defense, i.e. to capitalize the advantage.

For example, I tend to favor c4 as the next move and subsequently trying to capture/exchange pieces in order to clear the way to the king.

The question here is what the direction of white's next moves should be?

[FEN "2k1rbnr/ppp5/1q4p1/3pNp1p/1P1P4/B1P1P1P1/P3Q2P/1KR1R3 w Kk - 0 1"]

  • 2
    Whenever you have a candidate move in mind, it is generally good to ask yourself: "if I play this move, am I then just giving away material for free?" With your candidate move c3-c4, this is the case. The pawn on c3 defends the pawn on b4, and after c3-c4, black can just take on b4 with Bxb4. In some cases there may be subtleties in the position justifying giving away material, but it has to be acknowledged in either case.
    – Scounged
    Jun 24, 2019 at 14:03
  • @Scounged I was under the impression that after c4 Bxb4, it will be Bxb4 Qxb4. After that, either the king moves out of the way or the white queen attempts an exchange for the black. The pawn on c4 remains protected by the knight and the black pawn on c5 can be left vulnerable. So there is chance that the exchange breaks even of that one white pawn is sacrificed, but it seems that the position will still be better. Finally, I did't claim that that is the best move, I just said that I don't see any better (apart from maybe h4, but that would just delay the question for one turn). Jun 24, 2019 at 14:15
  • 5
    "White is in the presumably better position" - it might help people explain how best to think about this if you first explain how you came to this conclusion
    – Ian Bush
    Jun 24, 2019 at 15:28

2 Answers 2


The position you are having here is also quiet though I guess. You can ask yourself first: What do I want to play for? Then you can analyse the position as the following: 1.) Black has some kind of weakness in the g6 pawn, how can I attack that? 2.) The rook is placed good for opening the c-file, how do I achieve that? 3.) What are the ideas for black in the position?

Then you can search for answers for those questions. 1.) There is no direct way to attack that, but 1. h4 would fix the pawn structure for the moment, therefore it would fix the weakness. Nevertheless, after 1... Bg7 your knight is not very stable on e5, so you probably have to move it away and there is no real way of keeping the pressure on g6, therefor the plan to go for the weakness doesn't really appeal to me. 2.) If you want to play c4 and you want to sidestep Bxb4, a5 ideas, 1. Ka1 could be a smart move. If you assume for a moment that you have to moves in a row, 1.Ka1 2. c4 would allow 2... Bxb4 but after 3. c5 Qa5 4. Bxb4 Qxb4 5. c6 you would have some initative. 3.) Black has several plans, like kicking the knight away from e5 with Bg7, placing the own knight on e4, making pressure on e3. However, placing the knight on e4 is not easy yet since Nf6 allows Nxg6. Therefore black needs to kick the knight away with Bg7 or Bd6 (the latter one allows c4 with threatening c5).

Now you can think of what happens if black tries any of them after 1. Ka1/h4 like 1... Bg7 2. Nd3 and so on, seeing which option seems to be the best objectively and so on improve your position.

  • 1
    I think he meant "quiet", meaning there are no immediate threats to be concerned with.
    – Rufus L
    Jun 25, 2019 at 18:38
  • Yes, I meant "quiet". Thanks for pointing that out!
    – Chris
    Jun 26, 2019 at 9:46

Is white better here? Stockfish, Lc0 or another engine may well say white is better, but black has many trumps despite being behind in development.

  • The white king position is weak and can be attacked with a5.
  • The white knight on e5 looks excellent and puts pressure on g6 but can be eliminated with an exchange sacrifice, followed by Bb2.
  • Black's knight on g8 can quickly get to e4 in 2 moves
  • Black's rook on the h-file can easily activate with h4

As white, I would be looking to secure my king position with Bb2 and a3, which will support the c4 push at a later time if possible. Right now, the king position is very weak, and it might not be wise to willingly weaken it anymore.

I would also be looking to put pressure on the d5 pawn to tie down black's pieces or induce c6. Black does have a dark-squared bishop to cover that weak diagonal, however, the pawn on c6 is possibly a target.

I prefer the black position here in a practical game without looking at a chess engine evaluation.

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