Pawn Structure Chess
Do you want to step up the rating ladder and quickly improve your chess? And do you feel like you need a way to find out how to play every single chess position in the world when it comes up on the board?
Pawn structure chess
This is a complete guide to all of the seventeen pawn structures in chess. By reading each of these articles, created just for you, you will realize that pawn structures are the backbone of chess, because they can teach you how to play every single position you can find.
This guide is suited for chess players of all levels, though certainly players of Class C (1400-1600) and above are more likely to be familiar with a greater number of strategic concepts, which is undoubtedly of help in the process of understanding pawn structures.
Reading them carefully is, of course, the first step. However, you should be willing to put all of the things you will learn to practice, by playing chess games, either on the Internet or over the board.
In a game of chess, the pawn structure (sometimes known as the pawn skeleton) is the configuration of pawns on the chessboard. Because pawns are the least mobile of the chess pieces, the pawn structure is relatively static and thus plays a large role in determining the strategic character of the position.
Pawn structures often transpose into one another, such as the Isolani into the Hanging pawns, and vice versa. Such transpositions must be considered carefully and often mark shifts in game strategy.
In his 1995 book Pawn Structure Chess, Andrew Soltis classified the major pawn formations into 17 categories. In 2015, the book Chess Structures, by Mauricio Flores Rios, further studied the subject, subdividing pawn structures into the 28 most important. For a formation to fall into a particular category, it need not have a pawn position identical to the corresponding diagram, but only close enough that the character of the game and the major themes are unchanged. It is typically the center pawns whose position influences the nature of the game the most.
Structures with mutually attacking pawns are said to have tension. They are ordinarily unstable and tend to transpose into a stable formation with a pawn push or exchange. Play often revolves around making the transposition happen under favorable circumstances. For instance, in the Queen's Gambit Declined, Black waits until White develops the king's bishop to make the d5xc4 capture, transposing to the Slav formation (see below).
It used to be considered unwise for White to exchange a piece on c6 allowing the recapture bxc6, because the phalanx of Black's center pawns was thought to become very strong; however modern chess engines have shown ways for White to maintain a slight advantage even with black's pawn on c6.
Opening Lines: The most common variation of the Sicilian Dragon is the Yugoslav Attack. 1. e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 (the defining move of the Yugoslav attack) 6... Bg7 7. Qd2 0-0 8. f3 (necessary to prevent Black from playing 8...Ng4 to attack White's dark-squared bishop; 8.f3 also gives e4 extra defense and prepares to launch a pawn storm with the move g4) 8... Nc6 9. 0-0-0 (9.Bc4 is also a very common move in this position) 9... d5 (the main line; other ideas include 9...Nxd4 and 9...Bd7).
The Maróczy bind, named after Géza Maróczy, has a fearsome reputation. Chess masters once believed that allowing the bind was a mistake as Black always gave White a significant advantage. Indeed, if Black does not quickly make a pawn break, their minor pieces will suffocate, with minor pieces lacking any squares to move to and possibly becoming cornered or pressed into a weak defense. Conversely, the formation takes time to set up and limits the activity of White's light-squared bishop, which can buy Black some breathing room to accomplish this break.
The wall is yet another structure that leaves Black with a d-pawn weakness, but prevents White from taking control of the center and gives Black active piece play and an opportunity to play on either side of the board.
The term is used almost exclusively for pawns on the c- and d-files, and usually for two pawns on the same rank (side by side). They can be a strength, a weakness or neutral, depending on the position. They are typically an attacking rather than a defensive asset. Like the isolani, the hanging pawns are a structural weakness but with them usually comes increased piece activity to compensate. The play revolves around Black trying to force one of the pawns to advance. If Black can establish a permanent blockade the game is positionally won. On the other hand, White aims to keep the pawns hanging, trying to generate a kingside attack leveraging off of their superior center control. Other themes for White include tactical possibilities and line opening breaks in the center.
In this article, we will explore the fundamental pawn structures that every chess player should know. You will learn that although pawns are the least absolute value in chess, they are also the soul of the game.
Pawns are essential when assessing a position. They are like an X-ray that tells us the state of health of the position. Many times, one of the sides may be having an advantage or can even win, depending on the quality of the pawn structure concerning its opponent. On the other hand, there may be other positions where the pawn structure is irrelevant.
First of all, it is essential to mention that the pawn structure must always be valued based on the position of the pieces. Certain pawn structures may not seem very good at first glance, but by analyzing the arrangement of the pieces, we can know if the structure is helping us in the position or not.
However, as a general rule, we could say that a good pawn structure is one in which your pawns are connected and defending each other. It also counts if the pawns have mobility and the absence of weak squares. The structure must always be in harmony with the action of the pieces. That is to say that the pawns and the pieces complement each other.
Because an advanced pawn can never back down, we should think twice before unnecessarily advancing a pawn. However, that does not mean that we should stop moving the pawns. In fact, in many positions, gaining space by advancing our pawns is the correct strategy.
The key lies in analyzing whether the advance of the pawns has the support of part of our pieces or not; and if, of course, the advance is justified. We must question whether the advance of the pawn meets any objective. The pawn advances of the castling have to be well justified since otherwise they only weaken our king.
Doubled pawns are pawns of the same color that are on the same file. As in all pawn structures, whether they are a strength or a weakness will depend on the arrangement of the pieces. The positive aspect of doubled pawns is that they allow open files which are suitable for major pieces. This means more piece activity for its owner. However, not everything is rosy. Since they are doubled, they cannot move normally, which causes rigidity in the pawn structure and weaknesses.
It is the pawn that cannot be stopped by other rival pawns on their way to being promoted. This pawn can be very strong in endgames and can be a decisive advantage in many cases. On the other hand, in the middlegame, the passed pawn is not so strong since there are many pieces on the board and it cannot be advanced so easily. It is said that the square in front of a passed pawn is very important and usually both sides fight to control it.
We say that we have a pawn majority in the center when we have more pawns in the center than our opponent. The side that has a central majority generally has an advantage on more central squares. Remember that the control of the center is one of the most important strategies.
It is the opposite case of the previous point. It is when we have fewer pawns than our opponent on one of the flanks. However, depending on the position, this does not necessarily mean something negative. The minority attack is a typical attack that occurs in the Sicilian Defense, in which both sides attack with their pawn minority on their corresponding flank. The idea of this attack is to destabilize the center.
The study of pawn structures can be the key to taking your chess to the next level. Understanding pawn structures is vital to understanding the positional play. Among the benefits of studying pawn structures I can mention:
Note: Due to the permanent consequences of moving a pawn, you should always consider a pawn-move carefully. A useful rule-of-thumb with regards to moving pawns is to:
It most cases it is better to place your piece on weak squares rather than a pawn. A piece will usually get much more benefit from occupying a weak square than what a pawn would. When you have a choice to occupy a weak square with a pawn or a piece you should in most cases choose to occupy the square with a piece.
Note: Before advancing your pawn, check the situation in the centre. It is usually not a good idea to push pawns on the flanks if they situation in the centre is not stable. The reason for this is that your opponent might strike back in the centre, taking advantage of the time you used to advance pawns, and also taking advantage of the weakened squares behind your advanced pawns. In this position white has a firm grip in the centre and so he can afford to expand on the king-side.
A passed pawn is a pawn that cannot be stopped by any other pawns on its way to promotion. This is one of the biggest assets a player may have in the endgame. A passed pawn imposes a very serious threat to the opponent, due to its ability to promote and to create a decisive advantage.
On the diagram below you can see that the white a5 pawn is not only passed, but also located on the other side of the board. These two factors make the a5-pawn extremely valuable. Black king cannot intercept this pawn, which guarantees a safe promotion, and secures the win. 041b061a72