Backward Pawn

  • Last updated on 8/16/11, 9:30 PM.

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A pawn which cannot be protected by its neighbouring pawns because they have advanced further up the board.

A backward pawn can become a weakness, but sometimes other factors can compensate.  Some opening variations allow backward pawns to occur, usually hoping for compensation in the form of active pieces.


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #1


    Isn't this also called an "Isolated Pawn?"

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #2


    @Divine-Beast: NO, an isolated pawn is literally isolated from any other pawns - ie there are no other pawns (its own color of course) on either side of it

    However, in effect a backward pawn is isolated because it can't be protected by any other pawns. 

    Here's a handy link for you (in fact I'm going to bookmark it for myself as well)

  • 4 years ago · Quote · #3


    This definition is incomplete. A pawn is not backward if you control the squares in front of it regardless of where your other pawns are because you can just push it ahead. Pushing g6 doesn't instantly make h7 a backward pawn if your Bishop and Knight are still on the board and White isn't piling up on h6... it can become backward later, but it's not the same thing. A pawn is backward only if the opponent controls the square in front of it. A backward pawn is fixed; you can't move it without losing it. And a pawn can be both isolated and backward. If you're Black and your pawn is on d6, your c-pawn and e-pawn are gone, White has pawns on c4 and e4 and a Knight on c3 then you have a backward, isolated d-pawn. A more common thing is when you have a pawn on e5 too like in some Sicilian lines, when the backward pawn is supporting another pawn, that's the way it's always shown in text books but it doesn't have to have other pawns around it to be the same kind of weakness. The point is it is not supported by other pawns (like this defination says) and also that it can't be pushed. (There do seem to be different definitions, some people thinking a pawn can only be backward on a half open file, when an enemy rook helps the oponent control it, and one place I just looked at says an enemy has to be attacking the pawn for it be backward but I think they're misreading/mistranslating a text... anyway a pawn you can push is not backward.)

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