Thinking in Terms of Pawns

Thinking in Terms of Pawns‎

WIM energia
16 | Strategy

Today we will look at examples where forming plans involved moving the pawns. Pawn moves can change the structure of the position and the associated plans. We open the game by sacrificing pawns and grab space by pushing them forward. Sometimes, advancement of one pawn or the other requires foresight and good planning skills; on such examples I will concentrate today. One has to be careful during pawn advances because pawns do not move backwards, thus the weaknesses that they leave behind are staying there forever.

The following example features a rook and knight endgame, where white has a passed pawn on d6. The pawn is safely blockaded by the black knight on d7, while binding the white rook to its defense. The knight has no good squares from where it can defend the pawn in order to free the rook. As can be seen on the diagram, white also has a space advantage on the kingside, where black is bound to passive defense. If black tries to free himself on the kingside by pushing one of the pawns then white will use the squares that the pawn weakened for his knight. White has to come up with a plan of improvement of position. As we figured out previously black has no active plan, thus white can maneuver slowly. Bringing the king up to the center is a good idea, while shielding it from side checks with Rd4. Pushing pawns to win the fight for the squares for the knight is another good idea. White has to be careful not to exchange too many pawns, since if black trades all the pawns on the kingside the position will be close to a draw. Black has a plan of possibly freeing his knight from d7 by bringing the king to d8: it has dangers of leaving kingside pawns undefended. If white starts by pushing f5, he will not achieve anything as black will just ignore it by playing Kf8. The g5 move will give up the f5 square and has no plan behind it. Thus, the only other pawn move, which is left is h4.

In the next position white is ahead in development: his rooks are on the central squares, the knight and bishop are ready to jump into play when necessary. White also has space in the centre. If one looks at the pawn structure in general, white might have problems in the endgame as g3, g2 are doubled and e4 is isolated. Black can always cover the weakness on d6 by bringing the king to e7. If we let black make two moves in a row then after Ne5-Bg4 he will finish development and have a better position due to a better pawn structure. Thus, white has to do something and it better be now. The plan is to break through in the center and use his better developed pieces to attack the black king. This plan can be achieved with either c5 or e5. It turns out only one move leads to advantage.

The next article will feature the art of not paying attention to what your opponent is doing… or in other words how to get a losing position on move 9 by following typical and well-tested plans.







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