Originally posted by Garnoth
OK, I'll fall for it:
Black is an exchange down but looks like he has clear pressure, great bolckade and the better bishop. I like black in this position but I am probably missing something obvious...
I'm new at this, but I agree with your appraisal. In keeping with my recent Silman study, I should list the imbalances:
Black's dark-squared bishop is clearly superior to white's light-squared bishop. It applies pressure to the e3 pawn along with black's queen and rook, and threatens to capture the pawn with check, while white's light-squared bishop languishes behind the light-squared queenside pawns while hemmed in by the f-file rook, and has no targets to shoot for. Black's knight is well placed on c5 and supported by the d6 pawn, and protects the b7 pawn (preventing rook pentration on the b-file) while eying the b3 square, preventing white from reinforcing e3 with his rook.
White has an isolated a-pawn, backwards pawns on c4 and e3, and 3 pawn islands, but has a (temporary) majority in the centre. Black has a backward pawns on b7 and f7, an isolated pawn on d6, 3 pawn islands and a kingside majority. However, black's pawns are well defended, and the isolated pawn on d6 provides fine outposts for black's knight on c5 and e5. Black's pawns also mostly reside on the white squares, allowing black's dark-squared bishop access to most of the board.
White has a space advantage on the queenside and the in the centre, although he can't make use of it at the moment as the pawns hem in the bishop, the b- and f-files are semi-open but well defended, and the centre is being dominated by black's queen-rook-bishop combo. Black technically owns less space, but white will have a tough time enforcing his property boundaries without making major concessions elsewhere.
White is up the exchange, however black will soon be making progress here as white can't defend the e3 pawn.
Files and squares:
White has control over the b- and f-files, although black has blockaded them effectively making them difficult for white to exploit. Black has control over the e-file, with significant pressure against e3. White's most active square is probably f6, while black controls c5, e4 and e3, with eventual pressure possible (useful?) at c4 if required after e3 is taken.
Both sides have developed all their pieces, but black has been able to post his knight and bishop effectively while white's rooks are fairly ineffective. Black's queen exerts pressure against e3 while white's queen is relegated to defense.
Even though it's white's turn, black seems to have the initiative here as white must respond to black's threats in order to minimize the damage. Therefore black is dictating the pace and direction of the game.
Gotta go for lunch! But I'll be back to post white and black's most likely/useful plans (for my own benefit, obviously). Any feedback is welcome!