Mamedyarov's Unstoppable Pawns
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Mamedyarov's Unstoppable Pawns‎

GM Gserper
45 | Tactics

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's result in the last Candidates' tournament has cemented his position as one of the world's very best players.

In a year-old article, we already discussed what makes his chess so sparkling and powerful. Today I would like to talk about one of his favorite chess patterns, which perfectly fits the description from the above-mentioned article: "he uses a well-known classical concept as an inspiration and then produces a much more sophisticated and beautiful gem."

chess pawns

The following masterpiece by GM Bronstein is one of those games that a proverbial "Russian schoolboy must know."

White's daring piece sacrifice allowed him to create a powerful pawn center, which simply steamrolled Black's position. Yes, Black's play could be improved on many occasions (like his dubious move 10...c5?! that only made White's center pawns stronger), but it is White's brilliant concept that really matters here. In many positions it is absolutely worth it to sacrifice a minor piece for a couple of pawns that are going to push your opponent off the board!

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

We can find this pattern in many games by GM Mamedyarov!

Looks pretty easy, right? Now try to play like Mamedyarov in the following position:

And here finish the game in style just like Shakhriyar did!

Since Mamedyarov is a very aggressive attacking player, it is quite common in his games that such far advanced pawns help him to checkmate the opponent's king.

Now that you know how dangerous Mamedyarov's passed pawns can be, you'll appreciate the following game. To some extent this was one of the biggest achievements of Fabiano Caruana in the tournament of his life where he won the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen. When I saw the position where Mamedyarov had three passed pawns, I thought that Caruana was doomed.

Fortunately, he managed to do the impossible: stop Shakhriyar's pawns! And that eventually sealed the tournament.

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