Common pawn structures

Common pawn structures

IM MatBobula

Every chess player knows Philidor's saying: "The pawns are the soul of chess." Not that many knows that the whole quote: "My main purpose is to gain recognition for myself by means of a new idea of which no one has conceived, or perhaps has been unable to practice; that is, good play of the pawns; they are the soul of chess: it is they alone that determine the attack and the defence, and the winning or losing of the game depends entirely on their good or bad arrangement."

Pawns are the key factor in almost every position. If you want to understand the position better, it is very important to recognize paws structures. Below you can find a list of most common ones. The first two are an advantage, the last four - disadvantages.

Passed Pawn

It is a Pawn with no opposing pawns to prevent it from advancing to the back rank. If you can push it forward, you have got a chance to promote it into the Queen. Also, the fewer pieces on the board, the more important the passed pawn is. It is crucial in endgames.
On the diagram, the a2-pawn is the passed pawn.

Pawn majority

When one side has got more Pawns than the other at the part of the chessboard. Usually, when you have got a pawn majority, you can create the passed Pawn.
On the diagram, White has got pawn majority on the queenside.

Isolated Pawn

This is a Pawn that has not got friendly Pawn on the adjacent file. It is a weakness because it cannot be defended by another pawn.
On the diagram, the d5-pawn is isolated.

Hanging Pawns

Two pawns on the open files that have not got friendly pawn on the adjacent file. They are slightly better than the isolated pawn but still are considered as a weakness.
On the diagram, black's central pawns (c5,d5) are hanging pawns.

Backward Pawn

It is a pawn that is behind and cannot move forward. It is also a weakness because it cannot be protected by other pawns.
On the diagram, the d6-pawn is a backward pawn.

Doubled Pawns

Two pawns that are at the same file are called doubled pawns. Sometimes double pawns are not considered as a weakness, especially when there is another pawn that defends them. A special case is when there are three pawns on the same file - triple pawns (also known as "the tram").
On the diagram pawns on the f-file are doubled and weak. Pawns on the b-file are also doubled but it is not a weakness because another pawn (the c2-pawn) keeps them together.

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