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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Chess Improvement Ideas Part 10

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Chess Improvement Ideas Part 10

Pawn Structure

In the diagram we see a typical example of the isolated d-pawn. which can occur in many openings, e.g. the Queen's Gambit Accepted, Queen's Gambit Declined, Nimzo-Indian Defence, Sicilian Defence. Caro-Kann Defence. This pawn structure is probably the most common type of imbalanced (non symmetrical) pawn formation. Usually such situations lead to interesting strategic play.
The question as to whether the isolated d-pawn is a weakness or a strength, has no answer as such - it all depends on some other features of the position.

Usually club players are afraid to get an isolated d-pawn, as they believe that it will ultimately turn out to be a weakness. Yet, when they have the opportunity to play against such a pawn, they are unsure how to exploit this 'advantage' either.

Here we will examine those other features of the position which should help us to assess each particular case correctly and find a sound plan. It is worth mentioning that the position above isn't the only case of the isolated d-pawn , this pawn could be on d5, while the black pawn would be on e7; Black might have the c6-pawn instead of the e6-pawn etc. Let us see the main features of the position, which are related to the pawn structure.


a) has the open c-file and semi-open e- file, where where his rooks can be developed and employed; often the 3rd rank can be used as a track to bring them to the kingside ( this is refered to as a 'rook -lift);

b) has an easy devlopment, due to the existence of open diagonals for his bishops and some space advantage;

c) the isolated pawn can support White's pieces (particularly knights) placed on e5 and c5.

d) the d-pawn may become vulnerable, being attacked by the opponent's pieces, as it lacks pawn protection;

e) the square in front of the isolated pawn ( the d5 square in this case) may become a strong post for the opponent's pieces.


a) has a good square on d5 for his pieces, in particular for a knoght;

b) may hope to use the weakness of the isolated pawn, tying the white pieces down to its defence, or just winning it usually any simplification of the position will be in Black's favour;

c) has less space for manoeuvring; usually he has problems with the development of the queen's bishop and quick deployment of his rooks.

From now on we assume for reasons of simplicity that is the White who has the isolated d-pawn, although some positions with Black possessing such a pawn will be examined as well.

So, here are the main plans employed by White in positions with the isolated d-pawn;

1) Pawn break in the centre with d4-d5

2) Attack on the king involving sacrifices on e6 or f7; the latter often involves the pawn advance f2-f4-f5 in order to remove the e6 pawn.

3) Attack on kingside; White often brings one of his rooks to that flank, using a rook lift via the 3rd rank; if necessary the h-pawn advances towards the balck king.

4) Play on the queenside, using the c-file and e5 and c5 squares for knights.

In the next article we will see the first strategy 1) Pawn break in the centre with d4-d5

Wait for the next article.

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