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3. The mobile center:
... When one side have a pawn chain in the center containing at the very least two united pawns, this may constitute a marked advantage.. In those cases where one's opponent is entirely without centre pawns or has only one pawn there, then we term the centre a mobile one.
How should one play in positions where the pawn centre is mobile?
The side that has the center pawn in question (naturally we are not speaking of the case where the pawns in the center are weak , ..and must be defended) usually tries to advance them and establish one or two passed pawn in the center, which may well decide the issue of the game. But it is not always possible to succeed in realizing so ideal a plan of operations. More often it happens that the side that controls the center forces away the enemy pieces from the fine central squares with the aid of his pawns ahd the transfers the attack to the wings where it may prove decisive.
The plan of play for the defense consist in trying either to check or block the enemy pawns. This is the first problem. Then the scheme is to undermine or destroy the centre. A pawn centre usually prevents the defense from organizing counter-play on the wings. All one's attention must be concentred on the center...
We shall present an example of such a struggle by choosing the ending of the game Konstantinopolsky-Kotov (U.S.S.R. Championship, 1945).
DON'T FORGET TO READ IMPORTANT COMMENTS WHO APPEAR UNDER THE DIAGRAM AFTER SOME MOVES!!!
Here, White has but one method of obtaining active play. This consist in creating a mobile pawn centre by f3 and e4. In such cases the pawns on d4 and e4, supported by the two bishops, can advance and beat back the enemy pieces.
Black seeks to delay the advance to the White pawns by gradually blocking them or else even liquidating them..
Yet another example, in which Black succeeded in checking the advance of his opponent's pawn center. The position is from the game Reshevsky-Botvinnik (A.V.R.O 1938).
DON'T FORGET TO READ IMPORTANT COMMENTS WHO APPEAR UNDER THE DIAGRAM AFTER SOME MOVES!!!
It was on purpose that we commented by discussing those positions in which the defending side succeeded in holding back the attacking thrusts of the White pawns. Alas for those who have not taken measures in good time to hold them back! Uncontrollable centre pawns can easily drive all protecting forces right out of the way and spread panic and terror in the enemy ranks!
The game Kotov-Unzicker (Saltsjöbaden, 1952) may be quoted as an example of a triumph of this kind for a pawn chain in the center. White at once starts to built up a mobile pawn center. Black, who has failed to take preventive measures beforehand, can do nothing against the enemy attack in the center.
Let us sum up. In positions with mobile pawn centres everything depends on the following question. Can the defender prefent the attacker's pawns from advancing and can he blockade them? if he can then this would signify an outstanding success. After he has stopped the centre from advancing the defender can even begin to think of how he can most suitably demolish it. But once, the pawn centre breaks loose or can move freely then the hope of saving the game diminishes to a degree. Therefore, once the opponnent has succeeded in establishing a pawn centre, then all measures to stop and block it must be taken in good time.
We will now consider a matter that is of importance in this connecxion, namely the transformation of a position with a mobile pawn centre to one with a centre of another type.
By means of pawns exchanges in the center, positions with an open center can occur, and by retarding manoeuvres that slow down the game sometimes positions with closed centres can be created (even if these seldom arise). But more important is the opposite turn of events. A position with an open centre cannot, it is true, be transformed to one with a mobile center (there are of course no pawns), but a position with a closed center can easily be changed into one in which the pawns may suddenly advance. this often occurs after a sacrifice on the part of the attacker. By sacrificing a minor piece, or even, more rarely, a Rook, one side suddenly shatters a closed centre and obtains a position with mobile pawns. This way of play occurs quite often and must always be borne in mind!!! ...See for example, how brilliantly Euwe executes such a sacrifice in one of the games of his match with Alekhine in the year 1935.
Here, the center is closed, but with the aid of the sparkling sacrifice that now follows White's pawns are set in motion...
white to play!
4. THE FIXED CENTER:
In this case, the pawn position in the center is held in a closely locked grip and cannot be changed unless extraordinary methods are employed (sacrifices and the sudden destruction that goes with these). Here, the centre may consist of a pawn on each side, and usually these pawns are placed directly opposite each other. It should be observed that other central formations also may occur.
A fixed central position lends a special character to the play on both sides. The struggle may be concentrated in the center, towards which, in such cases, both players will direct their pieces; but it may also take place on the wings when one of the player utilizes the relative stability in the center to throw forward his pieces in a flank assault. Let us now consider how both players conduct the play in positions with fixed centres.
The attacking side stations his pieces in and around the centre, and occupies the central field to the greatest possible extent. Superiority in the center gradually foeces the opponent to yield and retire, and this in turn is the source of fresh positional and even material disadvantages. Sometimes the attacker can, by reason of his superiority in the center, set in motion a successful flank attack.
The defending side seeks to drive the enemy pieces away from the central field OR to exchange them off! In both cases he lessens the opponent's pressure and at the same time prepares for an eventual wing attack. After, he has beaten back the enemy's direct attack he can even begin to think of a counter-attack!
Position with fixed centres demand great skill from player!!!
Botvinnik is wont to display phenomenal virtuosity in such positions so let's see an example of it in a diagram...
In this position White wants to entrench his pieces on e5 and c5, and Black seeks to do likewise on his e4 and c4
.. As always, Botvinnik conducts the game logically and obtains a deciseve advantage in afew moves!!
We will give yet another example of Botvinnik's method of play in positions with a fixed center..
Here, White has the better position. The Black King has forfeited its chance of castling and his pieces on the King's wing are not yet developed. It is all the more instructive to see how skillfully Botvinnik utilizes such advantages as are to be found in his own position. By means of a methodical centralization of his pieces he succeeds in over-hauling his opponent's advantage in development and eventually gaining the initiative for himself..
We have now considered positions with a fixed centre in which both players have pawns opposite each other. But other types of fixed centre come into consideration. In many games isolated centre pawns occur, e.g. when White has a pawn on d4 and Black one only on d5. This also a fixed centre, as any change would require radical measures which as a rule can be executed comparatively seldom.
Let's look at another example..
This is an example of the method of play in a position with an isolated d-pawn!
The diagram position occured in a game betwen Botvinnik and Vidmar at Nottingham in 1936.
Here, White has an isolated pawn on d4. It is, for all pratical purposes, fixed, since White can hardly force the barrier of Black pieces that blockade d5. But it would also be detrimental for White to free himself from the blockade on d5 since this provides him with a trustworthy support for his pieces on an adjacent square, Again, we should closely study Botvinnik's play..
Summarizing our conclusions then: in position with fixed centres play can develop along two different lines. The attacker may work for a methodical increase of his strength in the center until he optains a decisive advantage. An important method of achieving this is often by the liquidation of the enemy pawns protecting the central squares. When the attacker has in fact obtained command of the center, then he can plan a break-through there, or else transfer the attack to the flank.
But another method is also used. The attacker at once embarks upon play on the flanks and takes advantage of the fact that the centre is fixed and that the opponent cannot execute a decisive counter-thrust there. For this reason one should of course never neglect thinking about the centre, since safety there is a prerequisite for all kinds of flank attacks.
In both these cases the defending side lies in wait for the opponent's plan of attack to divulge itself and then commences operations on the other sector of the front so as to divert the enemy forces.
Let us now take up the question as to how position with a fixed centre can be changed onto central formations of another type.
By demolishing the opponent's pawns one can easily change the position from that of a fixed to a mobile central type, and if both players' pawns disappear then an open centre may arise. Alternatively, from positions with a closed center, there can easily arise the type with fixed centres and even mobile centres may occur. A problem which demands particular care arises when the player who has the mobile centre must determine in what fashion it should be fixed. It is then that a player may get into great difficulties which demand the greatest playing skill...
Let us, for example, consider the following example;
In this there occurs an interesting case of change in the center!
In this position, Black exerts strong pressure on e4. If White confines himself merely to defending the pawn then he runs the risk of having the initiative taken out of his hands. So he must do something about his pawn position in the center. But what? Here its important to consider the special positionnal circumstances who justify the moves..
5. THE DYNAMIC CENTRE:
Let us now pass over to the last of the various types of pawn center which are considered here, namely, the dynamic centre. This could also be termed the unclear centre. Pawn formations in a dynamic centre is a phrase which we use to describe positions inwhich the fate of the centre pawns is not settled. Perhaps they may chance to disappear from the board, or they may stand watching each other, or perhaps they may succeed in forming a closed centre. Perhaps either player may obtain a mobile or a fixed center. It is in effect not clear what will happen in the centre...
Pawn formations in a dynamic centre can transpose into any one of the types of position we have already discussed.
The player's attention must be concentrated on the center. The startegic aim is to obtain a satisfactory stabilization of the centre or else to force one's opponent into a pawn formation that he does not want to have. sometimes it happens that neither side can wait for the stabilization of the pawn position before being forced to set in motion a flank attack. But it is in just such a case that one must be on the look-out for the enemy counter-thrust in the center. When such an attack is set in motion at the right time it can annihilate all plans of attack on the wing.
Let's see an example..
The position in the center is unclear here. Black has two ways of exchanging off the White pawn on e4, by f5 or by d5. White deems the first threat to be the most dangerous and renders it impracticable..
And now look at the last example ...
This positionis well known in text-books on opening theory. In the ensuing moves both sides usually contend for the best pawn formation in the center. In practice these two continuations occur - exchange on e5 and advance pawn on d5. Often, we get a position with an open centre that is followed by a general exchange of pawns. For the present game Keres had prepared a new solution of the opening problem..
Let us sommarize. In position with a dynamic centre, play should be concentred on building up as advantageous a center as possible. It is obvious that an undefined centre can transpose to any one of the four categories we have discussed earlier.
We have now consider the problems concerning pawn formations on the center. Chess Masters always pay heed to the particular topography in the middle of the board and force their opponent to adopt one type of play or other in accordance with the caracteristics of the terrain.
The player who wants to learn how to play chess properly must take himself thoroughly conversant with all the kinds of pawn groupings that may arise in the center and handle them in play as correctly as possible!!!
Great post! Why didnt anyone comment?
yes this is great article. And one more is isolated pawn center often happened at QGD game or Tarrasch
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