Pawn Power In Chess by Hans Kmoch

Pawn Power In Chess by Hans Kmoch

Dec 26, 2017, 9:48 AM |

In my opinion Hans Kmoch's Pawn Power In Chess is an immortal classic of the chess literature, and every serious chess player would do well to study it.  Here is essentially everything you need to know about how to effectively use your pawns - primarily within the context of middlegame strategy.  

One often encounters complaints about the book's use of the older "descriptive" chess notation and/or the "idiosyncratic" terminology invented and employed throughout the book by the author. These complaints have the effect of putting off many who would otherwise benefit from reading this great book.

My response to those who have issues with Kmoch's terminology is this:  As reasonably intelligent chess players (hopefully not an erroneous presumption), from the beginning of your journey in chess you have been able to learn many new terms and concepts in order to be able to read and communicate about the game.  The point, and value of Kmoch's terminology is that of attempting to improve the efficiency of communicating structures, positional concepts and ideas.  Just consider the “creative” terminology to be a part of the continuing process of growing your chess vocabulary.

In fact, I'm guessing that once one embraces the terminology and appreciates its concise efficiency of description, one will learn to appreciate it.  For example, when I come across the terms ram, lever, and duo, etc., I know what they mean and what they imply.  This simple terminology enables the writer/reader to precisely define a position, a structure or an action, which otherwise would take a lot of words and explanation to communicate.  Brilliant!

As one reads the book, and the terms become more embedded in your chess vocabulary, the book becomes easier to read, and the lessons and concepts are more readily absorbed.

As for the (now supersceded) "descriptive" notation.  Yes, most would agree that (the now mainstream) “algebraic” notation is generally more efficient in terms of writing/reading chess literature. Nevertheless, any reasonably serious chess player should be capable of easily learning descriptive notation.  And, I submit, there is no better book than "Pawn Power..." as motivation for learning and practicing your descriptive notation reading skills.

If you’re not familiar with descriptive chess notation...this may help....explanation of descriptive notation.....(the video is not necessarily the best presentation, but bear with it and you will get the idea)....

Finally, there was an algebraic edition of Kmoch's book published in 1990 by American Chess Promotions.  One can quickly find it by searching on the ISBN number - "ISBN 0939298791”.  I own a copy but have only scanned it briefly as I prefer to work with the Dover, descriptive notation edition.  However the algebraic edition does look to be a very well-produced book - binding, typography, paper quality etc.

Absorbing the lessons in this book will continue to pay huge dividends throughout your chess career.  It does take dedication and perseverance to get through it (what worthwhile chess book doesn't), but the results are well worth it.  If chess required no intellect or effort, we wouldn't enjoy it as much!