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The Truth About Doubled Pawns, Part 2

  • GM Gserper
  • | Nov 25, 2012
  • | 12961 views
  • | 30 comments

Last week we started our investigation of the so-called 'weakness' of doubled pawns and I asked my readers to find a position where the mere existence of doubled pawns ruins the position.  Many of you guessed correctly that the main drawback of doubled pawns is the loss of their mobility.  It can be seen very well if you compare the next two positions:

In this position we see a regular pawn majority which inevitably will lead to a passed pawn. Now look at the next position:
In the second position White cannot create a passed pawn.  All Black needs to do is to put their pawns on f6,g7 and h6 (or f5, g6 and h5) and then do nothing.
Since White cannot create a passed pawn, his pawn majority is useless. This little detail might look very minor, but in some endgames it could be desisive. Let's take a look at the exchange variation of the Ruy Lopez:
Why would White start trading the pieces virtually from the first moves? Is he trying to make a draw by trading all the pieces? In fact it is just the opposite!  If White manages to trade all the pieces Black will have to resign right away since White will use his 'healthy' pawn majority to create a passed pawn and Black won't be able to do the same!
The position above is the 'dream position' White wants to achieve in the Ruy Lopez Exchange. In this pawn endgame White practically has an extra pawn.  So, they play exactly the same way they would play an endgame with an extra pawn: first they use their pawn majority to create a passed pawn and then use the passed pawn to win the game!
The next game played in the World Championship match is a textbook example:
Here is one more Lasker game from another World Championship:
When I saw these games for the first time I was truly shocked.  I couldn't believe that the refutation of the Ruy Lopez was so simple: just play the Exchange variation, trade all the pieces and win the resulting endgame.  Even more shocking was the fact that people were still playing this 'dubious' opening! I was way too young at that point to realize that if the current World Champion (it was Anatoly Karpov then) plays the Ruy Lopez then it means that probably it is not that simple.  Of course as I got older and stronger I discovered a whole bunch of games where Black was successfully fighting back in the Ruy Lopez exchange endgame.  By playing 4.Bxc6 White doubles Black pawns, but in return his opponent gets two strong Bishops that could be really deadly if they are not restricted.  Judge for yourself:
The final position where White loses due to a zugzwang (after he runs out of moves with the 'a' pawn) shows the power of the pair of Bishops. Also notice that White's pawn majority on the King's Side was absolutely irrelevant in this game.
The next classical game of Alekhine is more proof that you don't want to mess with the Black Bishops!
The activity of Black's pieces, and particularly his Bishops, doesn't change the fact that the doubled pawns are a major disadvantage in this endgame since they pretty much nullify Black's queenside pawn majority in many cases. So if Black doesn't have some sort of compensation for such doubled pawns in the endgame, then he is practically doomed.
to be continued...

Comments


  • 17 months ago

    Seekthendefeat

    Good article, I never thought of the exchange Ruy Lopez like that.

  • 17 months ago

    mikey2677

    personally, i do not let doubled pawns scare me. I am only a 1550 rated player, and I know that at my level they do not make or break the game. I am not scared to make or take a doubled pawn, as they both have their effectiveness!

  • 17 months ago

    sswarnendu

    This is a game I recently played. I think this is another example of a situation where the doubled pawn killed black.....

  • 17 months ago

    shahrokh1975

    Every single article of yours I've read ,I've found them efficient,productive and easy to understand! Smile

  • 17 months ago

    Dchrisant

    Thanks!

  • 17 months ago

    chrystianguy

    Very good article. I learned something useful today! :) Thanks.

  • 17 months ago

    murometzyx

    good info, thanx a lot!

  • 17 months ago

    JacobPark

    Cool!

  • 17 months ago

    vsprasannaa

    Really enjoyed this article,thanks!:)

  • 17 months ago

    bstrain

    Great article! Thank you!

  • 17 months ago

    osgon

    i like the double pawns.simple is beautiful.got to learn more how to use it in practical game.thanks for sharing.

  • 17 months ago

    bagpiper123456

    Lasker himself denoted the doubled pawns as the weakest in his book

  • 17 months ago

    Samurai_Max

    ahahaha gonna play in tommorows tournament ruy lopez exchange variation :))

  • 17 months ago

    Saeid1359

    Thanks ... a briliant & applicable article

  • 17 months ago

    thought_control

    I found that it is usually the doubled and isolated pawns are more pain.  

  • 17 months ago

    Vendaru

    enjoyed. learned a lot

  • 17 months ago

    mikey2677

    I read Yasser's book, and it showed me the barcza opening, which I use alot, it tends to weed out too much memorization.

  • 17 months ago

    Dargone

    Great article(s). Thanks!

  • 17 months ago

    dritter1

    This is a very useful article.  It uses practical examples and really explains the positives and negatives of the Ruy Lopez.  I play the Ruy Lopez and know that this will help.

  • 17 months ago

    sryiwannadraw

    ty

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