I often find myself in positions with the Carlsbad pawn structure, and I really struggle to come up with a plan. I am usually the one with the pawn chain pointing toward the queenside, so I assume that I should be focusing my play over there with things like the minority attack. However, I have recently found the minority attack to be unsuccessful for one main reason. The moment I push my b-pawn to b5 in the position shown below, white can respond with b4, instantly shutting down all of my play. Even though b4 creates a hole on c4, I also have a hole on c5 which my opponent can take advantage of with his knight. At this point, I have no idea what to do, and my opponent can play on the kingside with moves like f4-f5.

Question: How should black (in this case) play after white plays b4?

This is the type of position I get into as black.

[FEN "1K1RR3/P1PQ3P/1PN1BP2/4P1P1/1B2p1p1/3pbn2/ppp1nq1p/1k1r2r1 b - - 0 1"]
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1 Answer 1


In general, a good plan in these situations is to then advance in the centre (either with ...f6-...e5 or just ...e5). When the position opens up, White will have a clear weakness on c3, which could be even more vulnerable than your d5-pawn. In addition, if you exchange off the d4-pawn with ...e5, White's control over the c5-square becomes weakened. However, your grip over c4 remains strong.

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