The Truth About Doubled Pawns, Part 4

| 16 | Strategy

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...

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