A Complete Guide to Color Complexes for Newbies

By Brendan J. Norman | Chess Strategy

Weak color complexes are one of the most important, yet poorly understood elements of chess strategy.

So what made me want to teach you about Color Complexes today? Well, funnily enough, it was a chess lover just like you.

ChessnCognac YouTube

I love hearing from you guys, so naturally attacking the chess topics you want to learn is a pleasure for me. I really like to see you guys engage, train and explode your chess results with my help.

Now let’s get you to complete mastery of this theme called “color complexes”, shall we?


You might read the notes to a GM game explaining that “GM so and so has won a pawn but has severely weakened himself on the dark squares” or “Instead of taking the rook, Fischer takes the bishop – leaving Byrne completely helpless on the light-squares” – but what exactly does this mean?

What are Color Complexes?

Since chess is a strategic game played on a chequered board, it makes sense to try to control the squares of both white and black squares. A color complex is how we describe one such group of colored squares.

How Do Color Complexes Become Weak?

Color complexes first start to become weak when you place too many pawns on the opposing color, and this weakness can become chronic if you also exchange or lose the bishop which also controls that color.

Here’s a simple example.

Too many of Black’s pawns, especially those on the kingside (which have the important job of protecting his king), are on light-squares.

This has the natural result of leaving his dark squares weakened and in fact – black would love to be able to move his pawn from g6 back to g7 if he could – just to guard those weak dark-squares h6 and f6.

Since he cannot move his g6 pawn backwards, the most accurate move must surely be to play 1…Bf8! and reroute the bishop to g7 where it not only fires at the white king’s position, but also guards his own dark-squares.

How Can YOU Become a Master of Color Complexes Today?

1. Rewatch the complete lesson video below.

2. Download the .PGN file below and study the games from this post (plus extras!) over the board

3. Make notes on paper about all of the things you’ve learnt from the lesson. This will reenforce everything in your brain and kind of “cement” it in – transferring it to active memory for immediate use.

  • rungaldin says:

    i do not see the box to download the PGN

  • David E says:

    I have looked all over this page and have not seen the “.PGN” file anywhere.

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