There are many ways to go wrong in the opening and lose quickly. Today we'll talk about one of the Opening's Cardinal Sins : pawn grabbing. Everyone knows that in the opening we are supposed to develop our pieces as quickly as possible and castle. Yet one of the oldest opening mistakes is still one of the most popular ones. I am talking about pawn grabbing which, as the name suggests, is a try to win material in the opening before finishing your development. I can almost hear a chess player's thought "Yeah, I know, don't worry, I will finish my development for sure, but first let me take the tasty little pawn that my opponent left unguarded". The usual result of such a strategy is miniature games where the poor King get sstuck in the center and minor pieces never have a chance to leave the initial positions.
Games like the next one are very popular in scholastic tournaments.
(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your attacking 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".)
But you shouldn't think that only beginners make such a typical mistake. Masters and Grandmasters are only human too and from time to time they produce games like the next one. Please notice that after his 11th move Black already had four extra pawns!
Two pawns that are the most popular target for pawn grabbing are the b2 and g2 pawns. They are almost like magnets for opponent's Queens. The next two games are very typical.
In conclusion I would like to mention that just like any rule, there are exceptions here as well. The notorious "Poisoned pawn variation" of the Najdorf Sicilian is one of them. But my personal opinion about this subject is pretty simple. To me pawn grabbing is similar to jaywalking: even if you managed to get unscathed once, sooner or later you'll get fined or even worse, hit by a car!