In this article on pawn structure, the author uses this game as example:

[Event "Prague 2008"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "David Navara"]
[Black "Vladimir Kramnik"]
[Result "0-1"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "rnbq1rk1/pp2bppp/2p5/2npP3/3N1P2/2NB4/PPP3PP/R1BQ1RK1 b - - 0 9"]
[WhiteElo ""]
[BlackElo ""]
[ECO ""]
[CurrentPosition "rnbq1rk1/pp2bppp/2p5/2npP3/3N1P2/2NB4/PPP3PP/R1BQ1RK1 b - - 0 9"]

9...Nxd3 10.Qxd3 f5! 11.Nb3 Na6 12.Be3 Nc7 { Defends d5 (making ...c5 possible) and, at the right time, move the knight to e6. } 13.Ne2 b6 14.Nbd4 Ba6 15.Qd2 Qe8 16.c3 c5 { The d4-knight is pushed back to the cold, dark, hellish vistas that occurs when you realize that you’ve been thoroughly outplayed. } 17.Nf3 Rd8 18.Rfd1 Ne6 { and Black has created a dream for Black. Here’s the rest of the game: } 19.a4 h6 20.a5 Qb5 21.Ng3 bxa5 22.Qc2 g6 23.Qa4 Qxa4 24.Rxa4 d4 25.cxd4 cxd4 26.Nxd4 Bc5 27.Rxa5 Nxd4 28.Rxa6 Nf3+ 29.Kf2 Bxe3+ 30.Kxf3 Rxd1 31.Kxe3 Rfd8 32.Rxg6+ Kh7 33.Ra6 R8d3+ 34.Kf2 R1d2+ 35.Ne2 Rd7 36.e6 Rb7 37.Ke3 Rdxb2 38.Nd4 R2b6 39.Rxb6 Rxb6 40.e7 Rb8 41.Nxf5 a5 42.Nd4 a4 43.Nc6 Re8 44.Kd4 Kg7 45.Kc4 Kf7 46.Kb4 Ra8 47.Ka3 Ra6 48.Nb4 Rd6 49.Kxa4 Kxe7 50.Kb5 Rd2 51.g4 Rxh2 52.Kc5 Ke6 53.Kd4 Rh4 54.f5+ Kf7 55.Ke5 Rxg4 56.Nd5 Ra4 57.Nc3 Rb4 58.Ne4 h5 59.Ng5+ Kg8 60.f6 h4 61.Kf5 Rb5+ 62.Kg6 Rxg5+ { , 0-1 }  0-1

Then, when explaining why 10... f5! is a good movement, he says:

The idea is that White’s knights have no long-lasting support points

What does this mean? how does the pawn on f5 achieve or help to this?

  • 1
    Dear garci, your post has received a couple of decent answers. Please consider going through them and then accepting one that you found most satisfactory. Thanks for your consideration.
    – user929304
    Feb 16, 2018 at 12:35

3 Answers 3


It's just another way of saying the knights will not be able to find permanent posts in this position because of black's central pawns. f5 and d5 are pinning down all the key light squares and the c5 push to challenge the knight is unavoidable for white. In short, white cannot create useful space for the knights in this position (Notice that by move 21.Ng3, the knights on f3-g3 are well out of play as black's putting pressure on the centre and queen-side while white cannot create any immediate play with the knights on the king-side).

All of that adds up to the knights being a tad less useful than black's bishops in this position, bearing in mind black has no problem blockading the passed pawn. Black will try to play around White's fixed structure with the pawns on f4-e5 (also blocking the bishop out of play). Notice that white's light square control is equally important here: 14...Ba6 stops any plan of playing c4, Kramnik's Na6-Nc7-Ba6 maneuver is really beautiful.

The author's statement is made within the context of this position, and is not a general one. But generally, what you can intuitively imagine is that the equivalent of "open diagonals" for bishops is "permanent central posts" for knights.


It is not that the pawn on f5 achieves/helps this. As far as I understand Silman, what he means is that black can play 10...f5, which gives white a protected passed pawn and which weakens the square e6, because white's knights will eventually be driven away when black plays c5, etc

Look at the position after 18.... Ne6 for instance. Black has achieved everything he wanted: blocked the passed pawn with his knight, gained space in the center through his pawns on c5 and d5, has a very strong bishop on a6.... The white knights on the other hand have no good squares to go to and also the other pieces of white don't do much.

Consider the opposite situation, where the white knights could not be driven away (i.e. where they have long-lasting support points). For instance if white had a (protected) pawn on c5 in the initial position, black would have a very hard time after f5 because the knight on d4 attacks f5, c6 and hinders black from blocking the passed pawn by placing a piece on e6. It also hinders black from play on the queenside (because the c6 pawn might be weak or hanging). Furthermore the second white knight could be moved to e3 further adding to the pressure.

So essentially what Silman is saying is that Kramnik can play 10...f5 which is against the principle of not giving your opponent protected passed pawns, because in this situation here, white cannot make use of this asset. The knights will be kicked away and black's play on the queenside is more valuable than the protected passed pawn, which often only pays off in an endgame.

  • Please note that the quoted sentence in the OP is not made by Kramnik, it is extracted from IM Silman's annotations on that game (see hyperlink in the OP).
    – user929304
    Feb 12, 2018 at 12:02
  • @user929304 Thanks. I corrected the attribution. Feb 12, 2018 at 12:52
  • No problem, it's not a big deal anyhow ;-)
    – user929304
    Feb 12, 2018 at 14:34

You can see as the game progresses and Blacks d5 pawn goes away, he still controls e4, thus depriving Whites knights of that square. I think the comment is a bit mistimed in his article and can see why you are confused by it, because e4 is already deprived by the d5 pawn so f5 doesn't at that moment independently contribute to that end.

  • Kramnik does not write that 10... f5 takes away any squares from the bishop. Also I strongly believe that the "idea" that he alludes to is a justification for the (otherwise bad) move 10....f5. See my answer above. Feb 12, 2018 at 2:41
  • @user1583209 you mean Silman and Knights I believe. And he gives 10...f5 and exclamation mark so being "otherwise bad" is probably an overstatement.
    – Ywapom
    Feb 12, 2018 at 22:11
  • Yes, Silman. I corrected it in my answer, but could not edit this comment. If you could not kick away the knights, I still think that f5 would be a bad move for the reasons I mentioned in my answer. Feb 12, 2018 at 23:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.