One of the first things you get taught is the value of each piece, and we can understand this because of the number of squares each piece can move to, thus the control they have over other areas of the board. What you realize with practice, is that according to the position of a piece on the board, its value varies - significantly. In this chapter, I will focus on the value of pawns.
In a middle-game position, how do you gauge the value of your pawns?
First of all I will start with a simple example of how pawns change in value:
In the first position, by the points system you would deduce that white was winning, but because the pawns were so far advanced, the value of them is greatly increased. In this next game I will show you the same pattern, which won white the game.
From this game, I will conclude that (connected) passed pawns are more valuable than other pawns, because they are much more likely to promote, because other pawns can`t capture them. They often force your opponent to put up a blockade, and this ties down his pieces. What the white player achieved, was to create these passed pawns, by playing c4, and using Cedric (the c-pawn) to obliterate black`s queen-side. You must note that this was a good choice on the basis that black had already lost their c-pawn, because they played the Sicilian.
Counterattack is a better option than passive defense in 99% pf situations, and that is what I did, after my queen was attacked it was possible for me to leave her on f3. The main idea I`m promoting here, is to increase the value of your pawn on h2, you can send it to h4 and h5 to destroy a fiachettoed structure. Don`t forget that Harry the h-pawn is one of Hannibal`s elephants (see previous article).
This next game was won by GM Simon Williams, because of the value of one of his pawns.
The lesson with this game, is that if one of your pawns devalues your opponents pieces, then effectively that pawn is a valuable piece. This could mean entombing a bishop, as seen in this game, or preventing a knight from leaping to a certain square. What I try to bear in mind, is how can I push through that pawn, because by restricting your opponent they will eventually suffocate.
Thank you for reading my blog, I hope you found it of interest; this is the first part of a series on the fluctuating value of the pieces, please leave any questions in the comments section, and don`t forget that if you play the classical Dutch defence, the f-pawn (Freddy) is rearing to charge down the board and land on f3, to trap in white`s LSB, and that pawns, although they are ostensibly the least valuable pieces, they have great potential.