Classical Games Everybody Should Know: Isolated Pawn, Part Two

  • GM Gserper
  • | Jan 8, 2012

In the first part of this article we started analysis of the classical position with an Isolated Queen Pawn where Black's e6-pawn is moved to c6. This kind of position happened in many games of the famous match La Bourdonnais - McDonnell. Today we'll look at more games from this match and try to find a way to use the knowledge of this type of position in your own games.

In many games Alexander McDonnell true to his active style, stubbornly tried to push the 'f' pawn to grab the initiative. It is easy to criticize him having the advantage of 177 years of experience, but today every schoolboy knows that in the positions with Isolated Queen Pawn it is White who usually has the initiative on the King's Side. Of course it has become common knowledge today thanks to the great chess players of the past. Therefore all the terrible beatings McDonnell got in these games were not in vain. The next generations of chessplayers greatly benefited from them!

Try to find the way La Bourdonnais punished his opponent for his positional mistakes.

(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your tactical skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list.")





Now, dear readers, it is time for you to profit from the knowledge of this favorable pawn structure. But what if you never play 1.d4 or your opponent doesn't play the Queen's Gambit Accepted?  Don't worry, this kind of a position can happen in many different openings.  Look at the next game for example. White got a similar position with the Isolated Queen Pawn and the Black pawn being on c6 instead of the usual e6 square in the Italian game. Also try to find a beautiful combination of GM Nicolas Rossolimo.
If you feel like you saw a similar combination before, you are absolutely correct. Just compare the Rossolimo combo to the very first puzzle in one of our recent articles:
So, if you are creative, you can get this kind of a position out of many openings. Here is one more example. The French Defense is an ultra-solid opening played by many positional chess players. But if you use an unusual move order, then there is a good chance you'll get a position similar to the one discussed in the match La Bourdonnais - McDonnell. Take a look:
I hope that  you enjoyed our little historical journey 177 years back and it will enrich your chess!


  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    i love that we can go through the whole game

  • 5 years ago


    4... dc4 questionable at best in that French variation

  • 5 years ago


    This is probably not that common, but in my games isolated pawns always seem to be forgotten. I've had several unimaginably lucky near misses where the opponent when on a clean sweep, swapping off all but a few pieces, which would have been enough, except they forgot the pawn....

  • 5 years ago


    interesting IQP puzzles

  • 5 years ago


    4... dxc4 is wrong

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    All the problems were pretty easy.

  • 5 years ago


    Nice puzzles.

  • 5 years ago


    good game noted by master Morphy

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    Thanks, this will help me use the IQP position to gain an advantage.

  • 5 years ago


    1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5exd5 4. c4!? dxc4 5. Bxc4

    I always play this against French Defence!

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