I don’t dance. I’m a big guy and I’m clumsy and I’m not happy about moving in public. The clumsy part wouldn’t be so bad

I don’t dance. I’m a big guy and I’m clumsy and I’m not happy about moving in public. The clumsy part wouldn’t be so bad, if I wasn’t ginormous. But if I step on someone or bump someone, there is a real risk of damage. Theirs, not mine. So I don’t dance.

But I do eat barbecue. And believe it or not, for one column only, those two things do go together. You see, I married a gal from Lexington. Being from Arkansas myself, I didn’t fully glimmer at first what I was getting into, but those folks in Lexington are SERIOUS about their barbecue, now!

Which means of course, they have to have a festival every year, where most of the barbecue vendors in the area set up in the street and sell deliciousness. People come from all around to eat it. Lots of people.

For one glorious day, it’s just me, my lady and 160,000 of our closest friends, jammed into a (roughly) six-square-block area.

Most crowded situation I’ve ever encountered. You can’t walk. You have to shuffle.

“Honey, have you seen uncle Bobby’s booth yet?”

“Heard it was on the other side of the square. That’s only two blocks. We can be there in an hour.”

And the only spot in that area where there’s ANY room to move at all, is … wait for it … the roped off DANCE area.

Just shoot me now.

The second of our four elements of chess is … space. Sweet, beloved space.

This week’s diagram is the same as last week’s diagram, for a simple reason: The four elements always work best when they work together. Last week’s diagram illustrates the yin and yang of well-developed pieces vs. poorly developed pieces.

And it creates space.

In chess, the space you control is measured three ways: 1. The squares your pieces can access or attack. 2. The squares your pieces occupy. 3. The squares behind your pieces that your opponent cannot get to.

In this (hopefully) now-familiar diagram, black’s pieces can do little more than shuffle. Only one of them can attack more than two squares (the knight on d7 can attack b6, c5 and f8). Poor ol’ black isn’t touching any of white’s property. We can see instantly, he’s jammed up like he’s at a festival or something.

On the other hand, white’s knight on d5 is in the MIDDLE of black’s territory. He’s occupying a fifth-rank square and attacking four other squares in black’s turf, not to mention there are four squares of his own that he can move to. What’s more, the white knight on f3 is attacking black’s turf at g5! Space!

Please notice the c-file. It’s half open. Every file starts the game with one white pawn and one black pawn on it, facing each other. That’s a closed file. When one pawn gets gone, it’s a half open file. The c-file is half open. White can look down and without thinking about it, know he needs to put a rook on c1, push his c-pawn to c4 and force the file completely open.

MORE space. Space begets space. White’s pieces are dancing (OK ... dancing is a GOOD thing on a chess board) while black’s are tripping over themselves.

All of this from a bird’s-eye view, evaluating the second element at a glance.

Go to the barbecue festival. You’ll understand the joy of space. And the food really is fabulous.