You cannot have geat knife skills and a messy board.
Aha! You're doing it again. It's a form of circular reasoning. We can accept your triad, in which case there is no room for disagreement (how could there be; you have co-opted the field). Or we can look at alternatives to the meaning of the phrase "knife skills".
You want to insist that anything which contributes to smooth work flow is a knife skill. And that's where you're losing people. As I said, above, knife skills, for the majority of people, are interpreted to mean, "how do I physically use the knife." That's why having a sharp knife is part of knife skills, but actually sharpening it refers to a different skills set.
If we accept that as a more meaningful definition, then what you cannot have, with a messy board, is overall efficiency. But your knife skills can be excellent.
Board management is only associated with knife skills if speed is an issue (which, of course, it often is in a professional environment). Take out the speed factor, though, and you're left with the possibility of great knife skill (that is, the ability to use the knife) and a messy board. The fact that I have to pause, often, to clear the board has no effect on my ability to cut clean lines, to have all pieces matched as to size, etc.
You ever seen Morimoto convert a diakon into a sheet of paper? He does it up in the air. Theoretically he could have a board covered with debris, and it would not affect his ability to do that. Would you argue that his knife skills are lacking because of a dirty board? Good luck with that!
Now, let's take your argument to the absurd. I'm going to boil some potatoes. My work flow is to dice the spuds, piling them in an open spot on the board, then transfer them to the pot of water. Using your definition, the location of the pot would be part of my knife skills. After all, it contributes just as much to total efficiency as does board management. Are you willing to argue in favor of that?
Don't get me wrong. I am not arguing against board management. Like you, I beleive it to be an important aspect of efficient work flow. Where we disagree is simply over whether or not board management is a knife skill.
If the cutter doesn't have the offhand foot forward, (a) the natural angle of the knife will not be square to the board;
I think you are doing this correctly, BDL, but envisioning it wrong. Merely moving the offhand foot straight forward will not accomplish the change in angle you describe. To maximize the natural angle of the knife remaining square to the board, the offhand foot should be forward and angled (parallel to a lower left/upper right diagonal on the board). Long term, this can become uncomfortable, unless the other foot is also at a similar angle.
Ultimately, perhaps without realizing it, you are standing diagonally to the board.
Edited by KYHeirloomer - 8/19/10 at 2:40pm