Is it Worth Suffering for a Pawn?

Is it Worth Suffering for a Pawn?

Mar 23, 2016, 6:27 AM |

How much should you suffer for a Pawn?


I entered a theoretical line in a Panov Botvinnik Caro Kann and could have been made to suffer much more.


Post analysis of this game helped me explore theoretical positions where I have learnt Black's best course of action may be

  • Prepare his King to come under attack after the exchange of Bishops at d7
  • King to hide at f8 or g8
  • h8 Rook to be activated via ... h5 and ... Rh6
  • Look for counter attacking moves to keep White from the initiative
  • Seek active play with Queen and Rook along c-file
  • Consider wisely any weakening to the artificial castled Kingside
  • Be prepared to sacrifice exchanges for material imbalance
  • Be careful of White's potentially dangerous c-pawn

This Opening position from a Panov Botvinnik Caro Kann as Black is worth exploring.

Black has captured a pawn at d4 at the expense of completing his development.

Here White played 12. Qa4+ which simply encourages the Knight to return to c6.

Critical is 12. Nxd4 Qxd4 13. Bb5+ Bd7 14. 0-0 from which I'll investigate a number of games from this position.

Can Black Defend after Forced Weakening?

In the game, White played 17. Rac1. Instead, I feared 17. Qe4 which I thought was the point of Qe2.

This would have forced 17. ... f5 and I was worried the weakening of my Kingside would give too much compensation.

In postmortem, Black I believe can consolidate using his Queen to cover the holes.


CounterAttack through Clearance

With mutual attacks on the White Knight and Black Bishop, I only considered the retreat 25. ... Bc8.

However, I missed the possibility of a clearance with 25. ... f4! 26. gf Bg4

This is not the first time I've not considered clearance sacrifices, and it's a tactical topic I'll have to work on more.

My Game Annotations and Analysis

Thematic Games

Black returns the pawn immediately and suffers with little winning chances against White's outside passed pawn.

White sacrifices the Exchange for a dangerous passed pawn combined with weakness of the Black King.

Interesting idea of Black's to pin the c-pawn and Exchange Queen for Rook and Bishop.

Model defensive game by Black with 23. ... Rd2

Black gets into too much trouble by drifting his King towards the Queenside.

Model game by Black in activating the "out of play" h8 Rook through ... h5.

The danger of making too many pawn moves in front of an artificially castled King.
17. Bf4 causes Karpov problems.

The counterattacking 17. ... b5 is worth noting. Karpov improves on 17. ... Qc5