The Unsung Heroes

The Unsung Heroes‎

GM Gserper
134 | Tactics

Today we are going to talk about the unsung heroes of chess - pawns. In openings we are happy to sacrifice the little guys in order to get some positional or dynamic advantages (a strong center, lead in the development, etc.) and that's a purpose of a variety of gambits.  In the early middle-game we part with our little soldiers to open files to attack the opponent's King or damage his pawn structure.  Sometimes it looks like the whole purpose of pawns is to be sacrificed. Only in endgames do we remember that if these little fellows reach the last rank they turn into beautiful Queens.  But what about openings?  Is it reasonable to hope to promote your pawn as early as move 15 or 10 or 8?  You might think that I am kidding.  If so, you are not alone.  Most chess players completely forget about such a possibility and quite frequently pay dearly for their disrespect to little guys.  The next neat combo happened in at least three high level games (Razuvaev- Kupreichik, Katalymov-Voronin, Doroshkevich-Tukmakov) where a GM and two IMs should have resigned as early as move 8! (If it is difficult for you to solve this little combo, please check one of my previous articles "Pin...Unpin").


Sometimes whole opening systems are based on pawn promotion.  The next variation was mentioned in the famous 'Handbuch" by Von Bilguer published around 1880!
If you managed to solve the previous puzzle that featured a pawn's underpromotion, then it won't be too difficult for you to spot a decisive combo in the next game.
In some situations you can punish your opponent for his misplayed opening only by promoting your pawn! The next two games are good examples.
To be continued....
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