Chess Terms
Pawn Majority

Pawn Majority

Have you ever wondered how grandmasters can tell which side will win an eventual endgame? Or how they decide where or how to attack? Part of their secret is their understanding of pawn majorities—and now you can learn what that secret is!

Here is everything you know about pawn majorities:

What Is A Pawn Majority?

A pawn majority happens in chess when a player has more pawns than their opponent on any sector of the board. When a player has more pawns than their opponent on the kingside, it's called a kingside pawn majority. When the numerical advantage happens on the queenside, it's called a queenside pawn majority

Pawn majority in chess
White has a kingside pawn majority while Black has a queenside pawn majority.

Pawn majorities usually occur on the board's wings, but they can also happen on its center. In that case, we refer to it as a central pawn majority

A central pawn majority.
White has a central pawn majority.

Why Are Pawn Majorities Important?

Pawn majorities are an important part of chess, especially during the endgame. Pawn majorities can help a player to create a passed pawn, which is key to winning these positions. 

Players can create passed pawns using their pawn majority.
Pawn majorities can help players to create passed pawns and win in the endgame.

They also help players to come up with middlegame plans. Generally speaking, players should attack on the side of the board where they have a pawn majority. However, that is not always the case—one example is the minority attack, in which a player tries to undermine their opponent's pawn majority.

White undermines Black's pawn majority with a minority attack.
Benko-Taimanov, 1960. White used a minority attack to undermine Black's pawn majority, create a weak backward pawn on c6 and a weak square on c5, and later win the game.


Now that you know what a pawn majority is, it's time to test your knowledge. Take a look at the image below. Can you identify the pawn majorities and what each of them is called?

Pawn majority test
What are the pawn majorities in this position?

You're right! Black has pawn majorities on the queenside and the center, while White has a kingside majority.

Pawn majority test answer
Black has queenside and central pawn majorities, while White has a kingside pawn majority.

Next, can you identify the pawn majorities in the position below and tell who has the better chance of winning, and how?

pawn majority test
Is there a pawn majority in this position?

Well done! White has a pawn majority on the queenside and can win the game by creating a passed pawn and promoting it to a queen.

White has a queenside pawn majority
White has a queenside pawn majority and can win the game.


You now know what a pawn majority is, why it is important, how to win more games using this knowledge, and more. Check out our lesson on endgames so you can start winning more games.

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