I am studying a book about chess strategy, and in the chapter concerning the d4,e4 center I have this game:

(PACHMAN, VESELY, Pragues, 1953)

r1b2rk1/pp1nqppp/2pb1n2/4p3/2PP4/2N1PN2/P1Q1BPPP/R1B1R1K1 b - - 0 11

The last move of white is 11.Re1!, and the author said black can no more play exd4 because the queen has to retreat from the column e with a loss of time.

But there is still the bishop in the column e! Is it a master subtlety? I mean that if the bishop moves, it has no threats and the black queen has time to escape from the column e...

2 Answers 2


Very good question and I'll try my best to answer properly. As you correctly pointed out, there would be no direct threat on the black queen after 11...exd4 12.exd4 because of the e2 bishop on the e-file (and no good discovery). But if we think further, what does the rook e1 really achieve for the white camp in the current position? Honestly, it's not doing much at all: protecting an already protected bishop and that's about it. Now considering the position after 11...exd4 12.exd4. In that case, the e1-rook is ideally placed on a open file and almost directly facing the black queen. Black would have to lose a tempo at some point by moving his queen and white could prepare an invasion on this e-file. Obviously it's a long-term plan but it's actually what strategy is all about! To conclude, I would say that 11...exd4 is not a great move because it justify the previous white move 11.Re1.

  • thanks, it confirm what I thought : it's a master long term idea, good to take and to remember.
    – lolveley
    Feb 20, 2015 at 15:43

I disagree to a certain extent with the author. The big problem after ed ed is that white's pawns on d4 and c4 have a lock on the center and black has no further stake in the center having given up his e5 pawn. Some time in the past black also managed to exchange his well placed pawn on d5 for white's poorly placed pawn on b3 which now looks like a big mistake as it was the first step in giving up the fight for the center. Black is also a bit cramped with his pieces stepping on each others' toes. Admittedly a big part of the problem is the queen on e7.

Imagine one small change to the position, black's queen on c7 instead of e7. Now ed is a real problem for white. Black can follow up with Ng4 with threats against h2 and f2 and Ndf6 to come unleashing the white squared bishop. Both g3 and h3 for white have their tactical drawbacks. As it is black will need to do some regrouping of his pieces before he can make any freeing pawn breaks or captures.

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