I don't understand the central-control difference between 1. e4 and 1. e3
Let us go one thing at a time OK?
The books/articles tell me that the center is d4, d5, e4, and e5.
That is correct.
- e4 controls d5, but 1. e3 controls d4.
Again, you are right.
Both control one square in the center, no?
Yes they do.
Yet 1. e4 is apparently a vast improvement over 1. e3.
Yes it is-I will explain in detail bellow why is so.
How would occupying e4 make a difference?
Again, I will explain in great detail the difference below.
Surely a pawn doesn't control the square it's on but rather the squares on which it can capture?
Correct again, but there is a difference others pointed out in their answers-see below for more detailed explanation.
1.e4 you achieve maximum efficiency that pawn can exert in a move.
You open best diagonals for both the queen and the
f1 bishop, and do not obstruct the
c1-h6 diagonal for the
c1 bishop. Furthermore, you claim control of the
Why is this important?
Well, by taking away squares
f5 you have taken away the best squares for some of the Black's pieces.
Black would like to place a pawn at
d5 to achieve maximum efficiency with that pawn, but can not play
1...d5 without losing a tempo after
2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 or entering complications after
2.exd5 Nf6, which gives White position easier to play ( according to the current theory of the Scandinavian defense and my experience ). Furthermore, Black hold for now but there is always a real chance of a novelty being discovered that will crush the entire opening/line.
c8 bishop is always best posted on
f5 but that square is also taken away from him with
e4, so it is not so easy to actively develop the
c8 bishop, especially if White plays
h3 too. This means that Black must settle with
Be6/Bd7, which is solid but passive or lose time to develop it to
b7 which is again a small concession.
Thus, in order to put his own pieces to the best squares, after
1.e4, Black has to make small concessions Which give White a small pressure.
As others have pointed out, your pawn physically occupies
e4 thus indirectly restricting the opposing forces. It blocks the
e4 square for the Black's
f6 knight or even
b7 bishop. In order to put a piece on this square Black must physically destroy this pawn which requires regrouping of his forces which is again a concession in view of investing time to maneuver pieces to execute this plan.
e3 you open the best diagonals for queen and
f1 bishop, but you close in your
c1 bishop. This means that you will lose time to post the bishop to its best and most aggressive square which means that now it is you who will make concessions or lose precious time. You control
f4, but being first to move you could have claimed those squares anyway so we can see at
e3 as being slow and as some form of overprotection or prophylaxis. Still, it is not necessary to overprotect anything this early, especially not as White! You also allow Black to play
1.e5! so now he gets the same benefits you could have got with
You also have no control of the opponents central squares which will force you to play "on your side of the board" while your opponent will be free to do whatever he wants* since he will control more space than you do with
1...e5!. This is dangerous, and you usually end up in a passive/cramped position so again it will be you who will make concessions in order to get in the freeing break in order to reach a position with counterplay. And again, Black can use his space advantage to reorganize his pieces and enter a favorable endgame after you conduct your freeing break.
This is very dangerous plan that White performs in many semi-open games after playing
1.e4 and I know from my experience just how dangerous and unpleasant it is to meet.
Also, you do not physically control
e4 like above, so your opponent can put
e pawn or a knight there, and the scope for his pieces increases-diagonal
a8-h1 is now wide open. This makes them more efficient, hence more dangerous. If you ever wish to put a piece or a pawn on
e4 you will need to fight for that square, and there is a strong possibility that you will lose that fight.
1.e4 fights for the control of Black's part of the board thus giving you chances for an advantage by hindering his best piece placement. This puts pressure on Black to equalize, while after
1.e3 you will get the solid but passive position and the pressure to equalize would be "on you", since Black will seize the opportunity to grab control of your part of the board either with
That is all for now, if you have further questions leave a comment and I will edit my post or reply with a follow up comment.