The Truth About Doubled Pawns, Part 5

  • GM Gserper
  • | Dec 16, 2012

Concluding our discussion about the positives and negatives of doubled pawns we cannot miss the numerous games played by Botvinnik. He was probably the first world class chess player who loved to have doubled pawns. I could show you literally dozens of his games where he deliberately created such pawns in his camp, but I think once you see a couple of them you'll get the idea.  And the idea is pretty simple: in practically all of the games where Botvinnik had doubled pawns, they increased his influence in the center:

In this early game of Botvinnik's (which was by the way one of Fischer's favorites!), White's doubled pawns control the important central squares d4 and d5.

The isolated c3 and c4 pawns were clearly Botvinnik's favorites.  He used them in many different openings to increase control over the center. He would frequently place one pawn on c4 to cover the d5 square and the second pawn on c3 would protect the d4 square. Here are more examples of this set up:

It is funny that in the last game Botvinnik had two sets of doubled pawns and he used both of them to his advantage!

The following two games are like twins where Botvinnik managed to occupy the key central d5 square thanks to his doubled pawns:

As you can see Botvinnik really loved the c3 and c4 pawns when he played White.  But what about the games where he was Black?  I think you have guessed it already.  Of course he tried to grab the central squares with the help of doubled pawns on f7 and f6:

In his fantastic book "My Great Predecessors" Kasparov correctly points out that Botvinnik loved to grab the center and was not afraid to double his pawns in order to achieve his goal.

I hope our analysis of the positive and negative sides of doubled pawns will make it easier for you to make decisions in your own games. Or at least from now on you'll smile whenever you hear another parrot repeating "doubled pawns are always bad for your position".


  • 4 years ago


    This article inspired me to play a game where doubled white f-pawns dominated the kingside.

  • 4 years ago


    I liked the last sentence.

    Very instructive.

    Tripled pawn.

  • 4 years ago

    NM FLchessplayer

    Excllent article!!! Thank-you GM Sereper for taking the time to write this.

  • 4 years ago


    I have read so much about the disadvantages of doubled pawns, and yet I notice that when I double pawns up sometimes it turns out to be more advantageous than I had thought.  Of course, I never truly understood why this sometimes happened to work in my favor.  I'll be thinking about this for a while.  Although I am not going to strive for doubled pawns, anytime you can take something that is considered a weakness and turn it into a strength you gain yourself a nice edge.  Great articles!

  • 4 years ago


    His patience seems amazing to me.

  • 4 years ago


    Nice game

  • 4 years ago


    Like Nimzo, Botvinnik's amazing chess creativity expresses itself not in combinations, but in positions. What art! 

  • 4 years ago


    I love the position after 15...bxc6 in Vasily Smyslov vs. Mikhail Botvinnik.

    Thanks for the great selection of games!

  • 4 years ago


    too scary. i'll stick with safe pawn formations. and in front of the castled king!!? 

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago


    More puzzles!

  • 4 years ago


    Great article, I'm supprized that in the game vs Vasily Smyslov,  Botvinnik doubled up his pawns even though that was his castled side!? Even though it worked for this master, I don't think I will be doing this anytime soon.

  • 4 years ago


    One of my favorite series!  At times I get caught up in the symetry of a position.  

    This game between Bronstein and Spassky for example.  

    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.d3 d6 6.Be3 Bxe3 7.fxe3
    Be6 8.Bxe6 fxe6 9.O-O O-O 10.Nd2 Nd7 11.Qe2 Qe7 12.Rxf8+ Rxf8
    13.Rf1 Rxf1+ 14.Qxf1 a6 15.a3 Qf6 16.Qxf6 Nxf6 17.Nf3 h6 18.h3
    Kf7 19.Kf2 Ke7 20.Ke2
    In keeping with the theme of doubled pawns.  
  • 4 years ago


    very good instructive article.....

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