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Another reason that it's vital to know IQP positions is that you can't let that be the driver for how you recapture. For example, let's say you have no c-pawn, and Black has no d-pawn (Black had done dxc4 earlier and you recaptured with your Bishop). And now, let's say Black plays ...c5. You have pawns on d4 and e3, and a Knight on f3. While in a few cases, it may be right to take on c5, the vast majority of the time, it's not! That said, let's say Black, on his next turn, plays ...cxd4. I can tell you that in about 50% of the scenarios, it's actually better to take back with the e-pawn, creating an IQP, than it is to take back with the Knight. One common reason would be how vital it is (or lack thereof) to control e5 in the current situation. If you recapture with the Knight, sure you have no IQP, but you have no control over any of the 4 central squares except d4. If you recapture with the pawn, your knight controls d4, and your knight and pawn control e5. e5 goes from being hit twice by White (via pawn takes) to not being hit at all by White (via knight takes).
So therefore, strategically speaking, it's probably "preferable" to take with the pawn, but occasionally, it's not possible as Black is stacked against d4, and the pawn will just fall. However, if you only account for scenarios where you have the d4 square under control, even with the long term weakness of the isolated pawn, I'd bet you at least 80% of them taking with the pawn is better than taking with the Bishop.
Oh, and a second book, which I would recommend you don't read until you've finished Sokolov's book as it's more complicated, is Advanced Chess Tactics by Lev Psakhis. 3 of the 8 chapters deal with IQP (chapters 3 thru 5), and chapter 2 deals with hanging pawns. The other 4 chapters are opening themed (1 - Benoni, 6 - Sicilian, 7 - Caro-Kann with favoritism for White, 8 - Offbeat Openings).
Even in the systems where Black plays ...c6 and ...e6, there are certain variations where later he has to play ...e5 or ...c5 and accept an IQP- else he will simply watch passively.
IQP positions are a vital part of the game, you cannot "wipe" them from your repertoire.
I fully agree, and I also don't think that avoiding a common type of position is the best way to improve. But sometimes people have to find their way by making some mistakes
OK, if black wants no pawn structure liabilities, he can play the Benko. There, he has an ideal pawn structure, and active piece play, which is rather easy to master (although good endgame skill is required). But there is a small detail: He is down a pawn.
Agree, but under a rating on 2000, the pawn-down doesn't matter. The best player will win, and the black play is much easier to organize than the white counterplay. The worst thing about the benko is that white has several way to decline the gambit and fight for a positional advantage like the 5... b6, or even create a very sharp position with f3-variations.
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