Should the pawn capture towards the center or not?


Thanks you for everyone's insights; I think I have a much better thematic understanding for what I should be looking for in these situations than I did before I created this forum. This particular position I selected has apparently several subtleties favoring hxg6 it seems. I suppose I was more curious to the thematic questions I should ask myself in similar positions (which this forum has helped a lot with). I felt that similar positions often come up and I wasn't really understanding what was at play enough of the time compared to how I felt about other positions.

llamonade wrote:

Opening the f file would be good if it were coordinating with something.

It's like someone calling a venue, and paying a fee to have their band play a concert... but they don't have a band yet. It makes no sense. First get a band together, then start looking for venues.

Sorry for the analogy, I'm a little out of it at the moment.

I any case, higher number of pawn islands can make both your mid game and endgame weaker. It's a good sign you're willing to think outside of the box, but until you're a little more familiar with the underlying logic, it's better to stick to principals.

Also, don't feel sorry for the analogy; I actually found it enlightening. This analogy resonates for me because I have been attempting to think "more outside the box" lately. Personally, I love the endgame and so I used to be constantly thinking "endgame." What I've recently come to realize is that sometimes you are giving up a dynamic edge to always play for such endgames. The element about the venues sparked my insight because I think this is the kind of thing I was looking for through this forum. If I can coordinate play then opening the file might be stronger, but if I can't do enough with it, then I am hurting my endgame chances. 

I like how this is described, it sounds like a trade-off of attacking opportunities for now, versus pawn structure for a later endgame; it is sort of like an investment, but ultimately the chess player is trying to decide if it is a good deal or not (based on the position and if their play has compensation enough for the weaknesses) grin.png


Another consideration: if White has a pawn on e5 and the possibility of using the g5 square, Black might well want to take on g6 with the f pawn. The reason is that a subsequent ...h6 is less damaging to the Black K position than ...f6, which would allow exf6. Here is an example given by Soltis in "100 Chess Master Trade Secrets":


The details didn't show up in the post: the game is Spassky-Petrosian from their 1969 match.


Very interesting post OldPatzerMike, I was focused on addressing the open file, or not, based on my own chances; however, in this example we see the decision based not on one's own plans - but rather on how to prevent your opponent's plans via counterplay: very interesting indeed.


Hi, my thoughts are that in that specific position, there's no point opening the f file for your rook. You get bad pawns and that over-rides any attacking potential you get from the half-open file, which is not great. Your pawns look better capturing the other way.

There are some types of position where it is standard to capture away from the centre. The Ruy Lopez Exchange is an obvious example.


I agree with scrabblechecs. There is no future for the Black rook on the f-file, and there is no reason to make the backward e-pawn weak.


Here's a Sicilian position where black captures towards the centre .....


Generally they should I think as everything is being geared towards the center, the most important 4 squares of the Chessboard but honestly it depends upon the position and what you're trying to do.