Attack on opposite-side castled King..


There are few things one should know about this type of position. 

Firstly, the attacker not only can but MUST carry out the attack with pawn!.. Pawns are the cheapest material in the game of chess, and this makes it advantageous to press the attack on the opponent's position with their help; in a second time, a pawn sacrifice can clear the way for the major pieces, above all for the Rooks.

In this situation this most important question is: who will be the quickest to attack?

The player who completes this assault process first in consequence acquires the initiative.  He forces his opponent to interrupt the attack on the other side of the board, and obliges him instead to post his pieces in passive defence.  Thus speed plays a most signifiant role in the pawn storm.  This is why an offensive with pawns must be calculated with the same careful deliberation that one uses in assessing a combination.

When you want to set a pawn offensive in motion, or before that while you are still meditating castling on the opposite side to that of your opponent, you must observe the following precepts:

1- Success in a pawn attack goes to whoever is the first to be able to seize the initiative, or, alternatively, to whoever is first to force the opponent to go on the defensive

2-In planning a pawn storm one must think out and determine precisely whether the opponent may not anticipate one and force one to suffer a lasting defensive

3-While advancing pawns on the one wing one must keep one's eyes open for any opportunity of creating difficulties for the opponent in his pawn storm on the other side of the board.  When it becomes necessary one can with advantage make one or more defensive moves

4-One must bear in mind that in cases of opposite-side castling one has burnt one's boats and that as a consequence play in such positions demands concrete positionnal judgement and an exact calculation.


1. Position of the attacking pawns:

Sometimes scattered, isolated pawns can accomplish their offensive task with much greater success than so-called "good" pawns.  Here is an example..

In the following example, Black should arrive at a pawn atack first on the grounds of the advanced White pawns on c4 and b3 and also because he has "good" pawns.  But instead the isolated and scattered White pawns on the King-wing take over the task of destroying the enemy position.




The next following example is taken from the seventeenth game in the world championship match between Alekhine and Bogolyubov in 1929.  Alekhine began an assault with his flank pawn on the Queenside.  The advance had as its aim the constriction of the enemy pieces, but behind this there also lay a deeper objective.

With his usual intuitive imagination Alekhine perceived that Black would shortly be compelled to castle on the queenside and that a far advanced White pawn on a6 would then be of great help to the White pieces in an attack on the Black King.

When such a move has double aim, this provodes the most convincing proof of its correctness; in addition, a move of this sort contributes towards an immediate solution of the strategic problem.  So now the pawn march a4-5-6 thoroughly constricts Black's pieces and prepares for an attack on the King in the event of Black's Queenside castling.






Yet another example that has already become classical.  This diagram is taken from game between Riumin-Euwe in the Leningrad Tournament of 1934.  In this example, White's pieces are beautifuly developed whereas the Black pieces on the Queenside are frozen in immobility.  These circumstances afford White a decisive advantage in his pawn attack on the Kingside..



When we now examine the examples quoted it becomes apparent that White has achieved great sucess with his pawn attack thanks either to a consistently better preparation for assault or to a superior pawn position.  The player who ants to set into action a pawn attack in position of opposite-castled must pay strict atention to his own pawn position and to the adequate preparation of his pawns for the ensuing struggle.  A correct appreciation of this problem contributes largely to success in this kind of struggle.

2. Position of the opponent's pawns:

This problem is so self-apparent that we do not need to illustrate it with examples.  It is to our advantage when the defending pawns allow us the opportunity of a speedy opening up of lines.  It is for this reason, for instance, that a Black pawn on a6 is more to our advantage than one on a7 when we attack on the queenside.  If the pawn stands on a6 we can easily open up a line of attack by pushing up a pawn to our b5 whereas when the enemy pawn is on a7 we must advance our own on b6.


3. Opponent's pieces in the way of the pawn attack:

When the opponent's pieces stand in the way of our advancing pawns, it is to our advantage.  By an attack with the pawns on these pieces the forces them to retreat and he gains tempi into the bargain for his onslaught.  One should always reckon with this possibility as a neat and convenient device for accelerating the rush of the pawn storm.

We shall quote 2 examples on this theme.  First, a position from game between Alekhine-Marshall at Baden-Baden in 1925.  In this game, Alekhine plans to castle on queenside.  After having accurately weighted up all the possibilities of a pawn attack he discovers that the enemy pieces which stand in the way of the attacking White pawns go towards helping them in their offensive thrust..







In the second example, White would seem to have the more active position, but such an appreciation of the case fails to take into account one important consideration.  The players have castled on opposite sides.  Who will be first to achieve a pawn attack?  Who will first seize the initiative?  The only answer is Black.  It is he who has the possibility of advancing his pawns and attacking the White pieces with gain of tempo.  This circumstance is decisive in enabling Black to succeed in his attack...




4. Pieces in the way of the opponent's advancing pawns:


When our own pieces hinder the freedom of movement of our pawns, this naturally suggests that we lose time by advancing them.  Therefore we must set about preparing the pawn storm much earlier, even doing this before castling, making a way for the pawns to by-pass the pieces in their advance.

This objective is so patent that it does not require elucidation by master games...

5. Formation of pieces to achieve the pawn storm:


In the first example, it is clear that both side are thinking about commencing an attack on the King!

Superficially it seems that everything speaks in favour of Black's attack succeeding.  Black has the opportunity of speedily fastening on to the White pawn on a6 and of opening up the b-file once the pawn from b6 has reached b4.  This in fact is what actually happen. Black enjoys success with his offensive at the beginning, but continuation showa that White has seen further ahead...

Eventually it becomes clear that Black pieces cannot help in bringing the pawn storm to a sucessful conclusion.

It is on the contrary White who has accurately worked out his pawn storm as a combinaition and who first succeeds in seizing the initiative.

His pieces cooperate in the action and arrive just at the right time on the field of battle where they consummate the attack that the infantry has prepared.





We have now studied a number of examples of pawn storms when castling takes place on opposite side.  In all cases both White and Black have carried out pawn attacks on the side where their own king is not placed.  Thus the pawns have been able to advance boldly without the King becoming exposed.  But there does exist an exceptional case..

..In some games the players suddenly begin to behave in a manner quite the opposite to that dictated by sound judgement.  They advance their pawns, not on the wing opposite to that where their own King is placed, but, on the contrary, just in front on their own King!  However, such a strategy may be right in some cases and it is employed above allwhwn the centre is closed.  This often occurs, in particular in the Samisch variation of the King's Indian Defence!!!

We shall now consider such a case.

In this position the player have castled on opposite sides.  Their respective plans of campaign seem obvious: White's offensive on the King's wing, Black's on the queenside.  But this is too superficial a consideration.  Black has an exceptionnally strong position on the King wing and the same remark is valid about White defensive ressources on the queenside.  And so the opponents exchange places; White begins his attack on the left side of the board and Black rushes in with his pawn storm on the other side where one cannot catch even a glimpse of the White King.



In conclusion, it must a few more remarks to make.  We have now examined the pawn storm as the principal method to be used in position where castling takes place on opposite sides.  But it happens, and very often too in master practice, that the attack is carried out not with the help of pawns but by means of pieces.  The game runs in this latter way when the player have castled on the same side.  In positions of opposite side castling, even though a piece attack may seem to present the most plausible continuation, none the less a pawn attack will prove to be preferable.  Anyone who wishes to learn how to play chess well must make himself or herself thoroughly conversant with the play in positions where the players have castled on opposite sides.  For this puspose, it is especially profitable to play through a whole series of games in which one has come to a prior agreement with the opponent to castle opposite sides.  Such pratice teaches a beginner how to master the principles of the struggle and to acquire the knack of the difficult play that occurs when both sides attack with pawns (on both opposite castled games).