Pawn Breaks, part 1

Pawn Breaks, part 1

31 | Opening Theory

by GM Magesh and GM Arun

It is never possible to sufficiently emphasize the importance of pawns in a chess game. The tiny little soldier which is worth the least materialistically (1 point) happens to be the most important part of middle game planning. As has been mentioned in several books before, pawn formations are like human skeletons, they define the motions of the body and if your try to move against the skeleton we all know what would happen, you would have your bone broken into pieces!

The next few weeks we are going to focus on important pawn breakthroughs in the Sicilian Defense. Today let us start with one of the most common ideas for black which if left ignored can be a deadly weapon. One would naturally wonder how much difference can a simple pawn break make, but you would be surprised.

Our first game today I believe would be a perfect example of how bad things can get if a simple pawn breakthrough is ignored. Unfortunately for me (Magesh) I was on the receiving end in this game and I very well remember how quickly a weak square led to my demise.

The opening started off quite normal, but in the last two moves I lost my chain of thought and made some inaccuracies. Firstly playing g4 when black's king is still in the center is just inviting trouble and secondly I just did not realize the importance of black's g5 breakthrough.

So what is so important about this g5 breakthrough? It is the key e5 square that really matters and this pawn sacrifice from black gains control of the central square and also opens up the white king and all of this for just one pawn! Once the black knight takes its post on the e5 square the rest just seems to fall into place with great ease, whereas white struggles to find any proper defense against black's mighty center and the result is a miniature.

Our second game is where GM Arun beautifully executed the same g5 pawn break idea against his colleague GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly but to his misfortunate he erred towards the end only to lose the game.

If you notice the position, the pawn formation is similar to the last game; the one difference if white still has a 'g' pawn on g2, but it does not really matter here in terms of control of the e5 square. In this position the g5 thrust comes with a tempo attacking the bishop thereby forcing the trade of the f4 pawn and eventually weakening the e5 square. The rest of the game one can notice that black continuously stops white from playing e5.

One strategic weakness created by one small pawn breakthrough is more than enough to steer the game in your direction. We hope our readers understand the value of such pawn breakthroughs. We will continue our articles based on this topic and cover some more important strategic pawn breaks in the upcoming articles.

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