The Soul Of Chess: Which Pawn To Advance

The Soul Of Chess: Which Pawn To Advance

Mar 24, 2016, 8:21 PM |

"The Pawns are the Soul of Chess" - Philidor

Never a truer word said in Chess, particularly on how to handle the central pawn structure. This was fundamental in my game on the Black side of a Richter-Rauzer.

By defining the central pawn structure with 13. ... e5 I believed I passed the initiative to White.

In post mortem, a better plan would have been to prepare d5.

It's almost the Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken". 

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood"


I had to battle for a draw on the Black side of a Ricther-Rauzer after I both misplayed the middlegame, and my opponent did not find the best way to put pressure on me.

I learnt much from analysing this game in post mortem, namely

  • Be very careful declaring the central pawn structure prematurely as Black, as this may result in key defenders of the Kingside being exchanged, and opening of files/diagonals to the Black King.
  • Sensing the critical moment after 22. Qh5 for Black, having to ask the question of Defence of Counter Attack
  • Endgame exploration after 34. Qxc5

Which Central Pawn to Strike With?

I played 13. ... e5 which I believe is premature, and subsequent play shows the difficulties Black faces with the c1-h6 diagonal open.

I think a better plan is 13. ... c5 preparing Bc6 and Qb7 to focus on ... d5 as shown in Mihalik-Kargin, Ukrain 1999 0-1

How to Deal With White's Threats?  

Critical Position for Black

White has played 22. Qh5 and I could sense big danger looming for Black.

His plan is Rg1-g3-h3 inducing Black to play h6. Then he'll play Bd2 to prepare a sacrifice on h6.

Black's biggest problem is a lack of Kingside defenders, and I can now see the problem with e5 in that it opened the c1-h6 diagonal.

I chose 22. ... Qd6 as I believed it top priority to escort the Black Queen to e7 to shore up the Kingside.

Another plan I didn't consider was 22. ... Bc6 followed by Qb7 to counterattack. I missed the possibility of Bh1 threatening mate at g2 in some lines.

Can Black handle 23. Rg3

In the game, White played 23. Rad1.
The move I absolutely feared was 23. Rg3 with the above mentioned plan of Rh3 inducing h6, after which Bd2 preparing Bxh6 is crushing for White.
I calculated whether 23. Rad1 g6 was possible, but the sacrifices exploiting the a1-h8 diagonal where too devastating.

Is there any Mating Net for Black?
I spent a long time considering 33. ... Qf4 34. Qxc5 Bh3+ and found that Black would at least draw.
I haven't been able to find any improvements for Black:( White in the end did not take the pawn.

My Game Annotations and Analysis