Pawns are the soul of chess

Pawns are the soul of chess

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They say “Pawns are the soul of chess” because they play a significant role from chess opening to the end game. Even losing a single pawn can give your opponent a big material advantage and blunder the entire game. This article is all about pawns and how you can use your pawns in your strategy and dominate your chess game.  Your first strategy kit can help you develop more tactical and strategical skills to work with pawns and learn about the complex pawn structures to manage throughout the game.

Isolated Pawn

An isolated pawn is a pawn that has no friendly pawn on an adjacent file. Isolated pawns are usually a weakness because they cannot be protected by other pawns.

Advantages: In addition to the open or half-open c- and e-files, the isolated queen pawn can provide a good outpost on the c- and e-file squares diagonally forward of the pawn, which are especially favorable for the player's knights.

Disadvantages: The square in front of the pawn may become a good outpost or otherwise a good square for the opponent to anchor pieces. Isolated pawns most often become weaker in the endgame, as there are fewer pieces available to protect the pawn.

Passed Pawn

It is known as a pawn that cannot be stopped by your opponent's other pieces, specifically pawns, from promoting. It is considered a huge asset for both players in the end game where a passed pawn can create serious threats to your opponent and gain material advantage.  Therefore, in end games, the experienced players mostly find ways to get into a position where they could create a passed pawn structure and restrict your opponent's pieces to infiltrate.


There are two points to consider when deciding whether or not a passed pawn is an advantage or a disadvantage.

  1. Can the passed pawn be blocked by another piece, indefinitely? If so, then the precious passed pawn might end up actually doing more harm than good to you. The pawn can block your own Bishops and Rooks in the endgame.
  2. If you have a passed pawn, but still have plenty of moves to play elsewhere on the board with other pieces, your passed pawn can remain in place and act as an insurance policy as the game progresses. If you find yourself progressing into a vulnerable position, your passed pawn is commonly quite useful, especially in endgames.


When you find yourself with passed pawns in future games, consider these two questions and determine whether it will be good or bad throughout the game.


Connected Pawns

There is nothing more powerful than connected pawns. If you have an equal material advantage, but your pawns are connected in the end game shows that you have managed to play beautifully the entire game. Here, you can move your pawns to promote. Engage your king if your opponent tries to block your pieces. However, you should always keep your king at calculated squares to your opponent's pawns, so that you could restrict your opponent if tries to create a passed pawn.


Doubled Pawns

Most players believe that doubling your pawns can give you a slight disadvantage. Doubled pawns mean they might get into a position where they are no longer protected by other pawns and also block the backward pawn to move. Therefore, you should usually avoid getting into this position. However there are plenty advantages too.


  • Doubled pawns can lead to increased square control
  • Rooks can have extra lines because of doubled pawns


  • Less flexible/mobile because front pawn must move forward before back pawn can move forward
  • The front pawn can usually be easily attacked


 Hanging Pawns

Pawns that are not connected with each and cannot be protected by any of the major or minor pieces in the future are known as hanging pawns. It is mostly considered the weakest pawns in the endgames because no pieces are left to protect them since the king can only protect one pawn at a time.  A pair of pawns on adjacent files that are separated from all other pawns are known as "Hanging Pawns" (a term coined by Steinitz).

Hanging pawns possess strengths and weaknesses

The elements of strength include the possibility of opening files through their advance and with this comes an increase in space, and the possibility of controlling key squares that can be used as outposts for Knights and Bishops.

On the other hand they can also be weak. They can only be defended by pieces. This vulnerability can be exploited by attacking them with pieces, forcing the opponent to protect them with pieces. The defending pieces can then be attacked and exchanged at a suitable moment and this can often result in the win of a pawn or forcing another pawn weakness elsewhere. They can also be weakened by forcing the advance of one of them leaving the other one backward and a hole into which a piece can be placed. 


To learn more about pawn structure, your first strategy kit can provide you with more tips and best strategy and tactics.

Course: Everyone's First Strategy Kit

Website: Chess boost