14-Opening-Move Pawn Storm: Does It Pay Off?

May 27, 2008, 1:51 AM |

In my previous post, I highlighted an ongoing game where White made 14 opening pawn moves without even developing a piece. 

The initial battle looks interesting, as Black struggled to break through.  Somehow towards the end, White started to blunder and give away pieces, so I am not sure this can be a reference game.  Anyway, for the record and for those keen to see the outcome, here is the completed game.

Interestingly, I draw some personal (basic) observations from this game:

1) Mobility is more important than material, at least while the breaking-through is in progress.  Positions count more than possessions!  In fact, White has the initial edge throughout the starting phase due to space advantage even though there is no piece development.

2) Exchange sacrifices are almost always needed for the pawn structure break within such a closed game scenario.  It is critical to find the optimal break point where the rest of the forces can punch through.  This may involve some decoys and even seemingly redundant moves.

3) The good old tested wisdom of developing the pieces early is still the best paradigm in chess.  Pawn structures are critical but definitely not obsessive storms at all cost without due care to coordinate with the pieces.

4) Focus on freeing entombed pieces.  This may be the basis to initiate the breaking through.  Open up as fast and as furious as possible, then advance to contact.

5) Seize the initiative.  It may not be possible or even necessary to go the center route as it is more feasible to identify inferior points.  The strength of the entire structure is, in fact, the strength of the weakest link.  Capitalize on this hole, and the road to victory is paved.

"The pawns are the soul of chess" (the quarter-millennium wisdom of Philidor), but if I may add, don't forget the pieces -- "The pieces are the life of chess" (my small-time extension :).

Just some pawns worth of personal thoughts -- hope they are useful.