The Truth About Doubled Pawns, Part 4

  • GM Gserper
  • | Dec 9, 2012

In the previous part of our discussion about doubled pawns we could see that in the majority of cases such pawns are a clear disadvantage in the endgame.  But what about openings and middle games? 

As we could see the major drawback of doubled pawns is their lack of mobility, and this is sometimes a decisive factor in endgames.  The lack of mobility is also a major disadvantage in the opening and middle game too.  But if in the endgame immobile doubled pawns prevent you from creating a passed pawn, then in the opening and middlegame they sometimes create a sort of fence for your own pieces (especially Bishops!) and therefore your whole army becomes immobile. This is what chess blockades are all about. 

Usually when we talk about a blockade the first person we mention is the great Aron Nimzowitsch.  The whole chess world learned this concept thanks to Nimzowitsch's timeless classic "My System".  But of course the leading Grandmasters knew about chess blockades even before Nimzowitsch.  Take a look at the next position which is a picture perfect blockade. White's pieces (and especially his Bishops) can barely move:

As it was mentioned before, the chess world learned about blockades thanks to the books and games of Aron Nimzowitsch.  He modestly called the following game "the immortal game of the blockade":

It is games like this that helped the concept of chess blockades to take the world by storm and made the Nimzo-Indian Defense one of the most popular openings for Black against 1.d4. And if you are a true blockade aficionado you definitely need to take a look at the so-called Huebner variation. It became extremely popular after the next game from the legendary World Championship match.  You can notice how miserable White's Bishop's pair was. As a matter of fact, instead of the traditional "Bishop pair advantage" we can talk about 'Bishop pair disadvantage" in the blockaded position:

I have to confess that the Huebner variation of the Nimzo-Indian defense is my personal favorite and I cannot help but show you one of my games in this variation. It was a memorable tournament for me since I won it and scored my first GM norm,  Also the ending combination is very simple but cute.

But don't rush with the conclusion that the doubled pawns are a major disadvantage in the opening and the middle game.  Sometimes they can be a very valuable asset too!

to be continued...


  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago

    GM Gserper

    Hi ralph46,

    Yes, you are correct, 20...Bxh3 leads to a checkmate in a couple of moves. I also think I would have seen it, but for the practical purpose, when during a game you calculate variations and see that Kh1 loses a piece, you don't look any further and only if Kh1 is actually played, then you start looking for the absolutely best way to punish it.

    Thanks for your comment!

  • 4 years ago


    sencillamente excelente

  • 4 years ago


    i wondering if 19. Bxh3 would came to a good position to white, obviously 9...gxh3 is not possible, but Bxe5 20.Bxg2 threating mate Kxg2 Rxe5 and the King is so vulnerable to the queen and rook attacks.

  • 4 years ago


    very useful

  • 4 years ago


    In case of diagram 2- Paul F Johner (?) vs. Aron Nimzowitsch (?),i have following doubts :-

    1.At move 16,why black played 17...Qh7 instead of 17...Qxh3

    2.What was the purpose behing 30....Ba6 ?Why to move the Bishop to a diagonal which is blocked by a pawn ,istead of from the place where he had to return again in future ?

    3.After black moved 31.Nh4,why did the white didn't take that Knight by gxh4 ?

    4.After 33...Bxh3,why didn't white capture that Bishop by Kxh3 ?

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago


    excellent article

  • 4 years ago


    Great article!!

  • 4 years ago


    very helpful. I used what i learned about doubled pawns in my last two games and won both. thank you!

  • 4 years ago


    Always intriguing. Thanks GM Gserper :)

  • 4 years ago


    Nice, thx.

  • 4 years ago


    omg, amazing! I never quite understood the idea behind this opening before, and so have never tried it. Thanks a bunch, I'm gonna use this!

  • 4 years ago


    Good article & puzzle.

  • 4 years ago


    Great article the whole series till now in excellent.

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