Evaluating Pawn Structures!


Hi friends,

Whose (White or Black) pawn structure is better in the following positions? Yes, I know that everything in chess depends on the position, I am asking, keeping all other things constant (which means either considering or not considering what the other pieces are), which one is thematically better based on factors which one is easier to get a passed pawn? Which one is easier to create an isolated pawn which can be attacked et cetera?


The positions of the pawns and kings are arbitrary. The given position is just to get the hang of the overall pawn structure per se.

In all the given positions, both the sides castle only on the kingside.

Position #1

Is a White's 2 (Queen side) + 5 (King side) better than a Black's 3(Queen) + 4 (King side) structure [Positions arising from Queen’s Gambit Minority Attack]?

Position #2

Is a White's 2 (Queen side) + 5 (King side) better than a Black's 4(Queen) + 3 (King side) structure [Positions arising from Queen’s Gambit Queen’s Gambit Declined, Exchange Variation and mirror positions arising from caro-kann main lines from Black side]?


Position #3

Is a 4 (Queen side) + 3 (King side) better than a 2(Queen) + 5 (King side) structure [Positions arising from London system, Stonewall attack]?

Position #4

Is a 4 (Queen side) + 3 (King side) better than a 5(Queen) + 2 (King side) structure [Positions arising from Dutch defense, Staunton Gambit]?

Position #5

For Black, is it better to go for a 4(Queen side) + 3(Kingside) with Qxe5 or 3(Queen side) + 4(Kingside) with dxe5 in this position against White? [Arising from Budapest Gambit]

Position #6

In end games with pawns on same side, is it better to have a bishop of same color as our pawns (to defend them from knight) or a bishop of same color as opponent's pawns (to attack them)?

In addition to the above, my other queryis there any general thumb rule or guideline to say a particular pawn structure/chain/formation is better? In other words, what are all the criteria that we have to look at while evaluating them?

It would be great if someone can add more to this list and also provide any suggestion or comments.This is my first post, so apologies if there are too many queries or errors for a single postSmile.




Any replies please Innocent


Well , Arun

I can certainly answer your last position , and mosty probably , you must be knowing it by now.Good to have bishop of the opposite color of your pawn squares , and same as that of the opposition(to attack them, as you said).

For the pawn queries, I am not sure you can say any position better or worse.

Maybe you should try pawn races with computer, try chesskids.com.

And I am also tracking this topic hopeful of getting answers


I actually think this is the hardest part of chess to master; knowing whether your pawn structure is better than the opponent.  It's also the most important in my opinion as the pawns are effectively the infrastructure which enables your other pieces to move in a cohesive manner whilst ideally limiting your opponent's mobility.  Before trading down to an endgame you really need to know if it's going to leave you with a 'won' game.  As a general rule of thumb I believe it is better to keep your pawns on the opposite colour from your opponent's Bishop.  Where a Knight is versus a Bishop the Knight is better if the pawns are all on one side of the board.  The other very important principle is King position and when it's only Kings and Pawns then power of opposition.  With a Knight/Bishop on the board these can usually destroy tempo where required and draws are a very common outcome.  The other general principles are that the fewer pawn islands the better, pawns work better in chains and doubled pawns are usually best to avoid.  Past pawns are very valuable but knowing when to push them from their protected positions is vital.  Also remember that with other material on the board the dynamics of the position changes, so for example one side might be winning if the Queens are still on the table; but when the Queens are off it's drawing/losing for that player.

Hope this helps, meant to reply last month when I first read this but I didn't have time and then forgot about it.

Interesting topic.



Good questions but hard to answer. I, too, will be tracking to see if anyone answers. In My own opinion positions 1-4 are equal because neither side can force an advance past the other side.

In position #5, I would choose Qxe5 rather than dxe5 but not because of pawn structure. Taking with the pawn would produce a more symmetrical position which I think is more drawish. Also, the White Queen would have an open file which would be hard for Black to contest. And the e-pawn would need to be defended with the f-pawn which would open up Black's King on the diagonal. Taking with the Queen produces an asymmetrical position, which I think has more dynamic opportunities. It leaves the pawns connected and gives each side a half-open file.

In position #6, one is better for defense, one is better for attacking.



I think his reply is very diplomatic indeed , but I don't have any suggestions of my own...

Yea , the position and the move matters,

for example in the diagrams of the sixth position ,who is about to move may determine the outcome of the game.

Let us wait for more replies to this topic.