There's another question on this SE, which asks the question in reverse: What are the reasons why I should not try to take a Knight with my Bishop if it'll result in doubled pawns?

The answers do not adequately address, why you should try and double up your opponents pawns. To be more precise let me point to this Youtube video explaining the Budapest opening.

[fen "r1bqk2r/pppp1ppp/2n5/4P3/1bP2Bn1/2N2N2/PP2PPPP/R2QKB1R b - - 0 1"]

The Youtuber recommends ...BxNc3 with the sole aim of creating doubled pawns. So why are doubled pawns so awkward? The only reasonable answer on the Wikipedia page I could understand was that the Rooks can't provide support to the leading pawn in a doubled pawn structure. Can someone shed more light?

  • 6
    These are not just doubled pawns, they're isolated doubled pawns, which are significantly weaker.
    – dfan
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 0:50
  • 1
    Yeah... that does make it a bit more objective. Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 0:55

3 Answers 3


It's always a matter of tradeoff. You can find plenty of IM & GM games where a player accepts doubled pawns because they feel it's worth it in that position.

In this position, the doubled pawn is lending support to the center, is not making the king weak, and provides an open file for the rook. The black d pawn is restricted, and trading on d5 would undo the doubled pawns for white and give a strong center presence. However, it could turn out to be an endgame weakness.

Here is some commentary by a GM.

And by IM (now GM) Larry Kaufman


Isolated double pawns like in your example are considered to be both a static and a dynamic weakness. It is a static weakness since the pawns can no longer defend each other or be defended by other pawns. It is a dynamic weakness since the front pawn is blocking the advance of the pawn behind. It is strategically important for the opposing player to control the square directly in front of the pawns, c5 in your example, thereby cramping the movement of both pawns.

However, doubled pawns are often compensated by other dynamical factors, like open files for the rooks and long diagonals for the bishops.

In the Budapest line you are asking about, the move 6.Nbd2 is more popular (than 6.Nc3), leading to a good position for white by simple means.


One important aspect of doubled pawns is, that pawn majorities, which encompass doubled pawns, usually aren't able to create passed pawns on their own, i.e. without help from another piece:

So in this position, although material is even, white will win by creating a passed f-pawn. Black isn't able to create counterplay with his own majority because it has been crippled by the taking on c6. White will just wait out any advances on the queenside without moving his pawns from a3 or c3 (unless he has to recapture). Note, that a3-b2-c3 is a good defensive setup, a2-b2-c2 would actually allow a breakthrough.

8/ppp5/2p1k1pp/8/4KPPP/P1P5/1P15/8 w - - 1 13

In this example it looks less obvious that there is no passed pawn for black's majority, but in fact white just has to modify his defensive setup:

8/p1p5/2ppk2p/8/P3K1PP/1P6/2P5/8 w - - 1 13

So pawn majorities are devalued by doubled pawns and as a result, pure pawn endgames are often lost. Funnily enough pawn minorities are often better at stopping the opposing pawns … But in practice this is less relevant, because doubled pawn majorities are usually isolated as well and therefore quite weak if attacked. But in a position like this, white wouldn't be able to create a passer without allowing black a passed pawn as well ...

8/8/8/5p2/pk3p1p/8/K3PPPP/8 w - - 1 13

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.