The Holy Grail - The Perfect Pawn Center!
Black has achieved a magical "full" center!

The Holy Grail - The Perfect Pawn Center!

FM zibbit

The other day I played a game here on where I reached the magical Holy Grail of which I have never achieve before in tens of thousands, most likely over 100.000 games played online and live. The perfect 4-square "Holy Grail" pawn center!

This occurred in this game, lets first see how the center occured:

Now, having never achieved this formation I became curious as to how often this had actually occured. My current database has just under 7,7 million games and I found 62 occurences of white achieving this formation and 61 examples of black achieving it.

Note that many of those roughly 120 examples (out of 7.7 million!) are very temporary examples of this type of center i.e. the center isn't stable. A case in point:

The highest rated player reaching this with the black pieces was one of my favourite players, Polish GM Bartosz Socko. Socko plays the French and has been an inspiration for many ideas in that opening. Incidentally his Holy Grail center or Cube center was also achieved via an advance French where white chucks the d4 pawn.

The first occurence of this mighty pawn center I found in the database was by the 4th World Champion, Alexander Alekhine himself.

Alexander Alekhine

HIs opponent probably wasn't very strong but Alekhine achieved this Cube pawn center very early!

By far the most high profile game reaching this formation was between two guys who both have reached the magical 2700 rating in their career. Note that immediately as the Cube Center arrives, Nielsen resigns!

But now I actually want to go back to my own game. Why? Because I think it is a historical game and a record that I doubt has been achieved before. This observation was inspired by the fantastic Tim Krabbe webpage which looked for and found curiosities such as this one. It was on that page that I actually found out that I held a record for the longest game without either king moving! 56 moves were played in Johannesson vs Thorhallsson without either king moving, no castling and no king moves in the endgame....and this was in the Icelandic Championship, a serious game!

But ok, enough rambling. What is so special about my game? Well not only did we get the Holy Grail center, we also achieve no fewer than FOUR sets of doubled pawns!

Do check out the video I made on this amazing pattern and the unique occurrence in my game from live chess on

Watch The Holy Grail Pawn Center - All four central squares occupied by the same side from Zibbit64 on