Pawn Play

Master pawn structures and know your plans for each game!

Are you ever confused about how to make the most of your pawn structure? Then this course is for you! This module will teach you about pawn structures and give you practice making the right choices with your pawns. Improve your knowledge of pawn structures today!

Here is what you will learn:

  • Learn about strong and weak pawns!
  • Learn how to make the most of passed pawns!
  • Learn how to use pawns in powerful attacks!
  • Learn pawn structures that help in each opening!
  • Learn how to make a plan based on your pawn structure!
Dangerous "Free" Pawns

Dangerous "Free" Pawns

Whenever an unblocked pawn can advance, especially with a direct attack on an enemy piece, the possibility should always be carefully considered. A closer look might reveal dangerous tactics hidden beneath the surface, even if the move initially looks harmless.
7 Challenges
Pawn Skirmishes in the Center

Pawn Skirmishes in the Center

Both players employ a classical approach to win control of the center: they each rush their e- and d-pawns into hand-to-hand combat. Since White has an extra move, White's able to set the tone, but this opening - the Giuocco Piano -has long been known to allow Black easy equality because Black can blow up the center.
4 Challenges
E-file Blitzkreig Against the Uncastled King

E-file Blitzkreig Against the Uncastled King

Gaining control of the center is the fundamental opening goal, but other aims are also important. If you can mobilize your pieces faster than your opponent, for example, you may be able to go straight for the King - if you can force open lines of attack. To accomplish this, you must clear your own pawns out of the way as well as the opposition's.
6 Challenges
Opening Passers

Opening Passers

Passed pawns in the opening are rarer than hens' teeth. And even if you could get one, with so many pieces and pawns still on the board, the chances of making it to the 8th rank and queening are somewhere between slim and none. And yet...
5 Challenges
The Mobile Pawn Center

The Mobile Pawn Center

An ideal opening goal that's not easy to attain is creating a mobile pawn center with d- and e-pawns that are unchallenged and unblocked by opposing pawns. It can emerge out of games beginning with either 1.e4 or 1.d4. This lesson offers some insight about what you might try once you've gotten such a pawn center.
3 Challenges
The King's Pawn Shield

The King's Pawn Shield

When both players use "classical" strategy to fight for the center, using the d- and e-pawns to open the way for the Queen and Bishops and to annex important territory, the center pawns often require the support of the c- or f-pawns. When the latter is used it means a loosening of the King's pawn cover. In this case extra caution is indicated...
4 Challenges
Bagging a Bishop

Bagging a Bishop

Pawns perform all sorts of roles: Attacking, defending, blocking, controlling the center, promoting, and so on. Encircling is less common. Here's an unusual example.
4 Challenges
Pawn Support for Outposts

Pawn Support for Outposts

Knights, much more than other pieces, thrive on advanced protected outposts. Without adequate pawn support they are likely to be driven back or harmlessly exchanged.
4 Challenges
A "Keeper"? Pawn Structure Often Decides

A "Keeper"? Pawn Structure Often Decides

Pawn play is sometimes mainly about the pawns themselves - are they strong or weak, how should the structure be altered, etc. - but often it's about their interaction with the pieces as well.
4 Challenges
The World's Biggest Pawn Chain

The World's Biggest Pawn Chain

This lesson, based on a game of the great Capablanca, is rich in features typical of pawn play: Chains, attacking the base, opening a file, establishing an advanced outpost, etc.
4 Challenges
Middlegame Passers

Middlegame Passers

Passed pawns in the middlegame can cut the opponent's forces in two, threaten to queen, or assist in mating attacks. The last two ideas are illustrated here.
5 Challenges
Middlegame Majorities

Middlegame Majorities

When two distinct healthy pawn majorities arise, the right plan is often just to push the pawns after adequate preparation. The one who sets things in motion first usually has the advantage.
4 Challenges
The Isolated Queen Pawn

The Isolated Queen Pawn

The side with the IQP mainly strives for a decision in the middlegame; the defender usually heads for the endgame by trading pieces, making it easier to exploit the inherent weakness of the IQP. So make sure you don't mind playing an endgame if you're fighting an isolani.
4 Challenges
Restraining Enemy Pawns

Restraining Enemy Pawns

This lesson focuses on 'pint-sized prevention', the hindering of the opposition's schemes for pawn expansion by fighting fire with fire.
5 Challenges
Crippled Majority

Crippled Majority

One of the many little-used opening lines Bobby Fischer rehabilitated with great success was the Exchange variation of the Ruy Lopez. Black almost always retakes on 'c6' with his d-pawn after White captures the N, so that his Bishops will have more scope. But this generally results in a compromised queenside pawn majority for Black, who will be at a disadvantage because of this if the two Bishops are neutralized.
6 Challenges
A Tough Decision

A Tough Decision

Deciding which pawn structure to take on, when whatever you do looks unattractive, is not easy. Here the great Fischer shows the correct path when on the defensive.
5 Challenges
Hunter or Prey?

Hunter or Prey?

Black tries a pawn 'whip' on an audacious Bishop, but will his attempt to hunt it down backfire?
3 Challenges
Two Passers for a Piece

Two Passers for a Piece

Under normal circumstances a pawn is the unit of exchange, with a value of one point. But voluntarily giving up a piece for two pawns, or giving up the 'exchange' for one pawn, is not unusual. There are, in fact, a number of different ways to give up material in exchange for what would normally be an insufficient number of pawns, thanks to various positional and/or tactical factors.
3 Challenges

Pawn Play

Strategy
18 Lessons
No Videos
80 Challenges
Released September 1, 2010
8,553 Students