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For my opening strategy in most chess games I play, I usually move my pawns forward two, then one in an alternating strategy, until I have a sort of WWW shape with my pawns. That way, if anyone takes a pawn at the top, a pawn at the bottom can avenge the pawn by destroying it. I've only ever used this strategy when opening, with mixed effectiveness. Is there any better way to execute this strategy, without diverging from its core too far?

EDIT: An attempt at algebraic notation: 1. a3(a4)2. b4(b3) etc. If A is 3, then B is 4, and C is 3 again. However if A is 4 then B is 3, and C is 4. This effectively renders one of my bishops useless.

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  • 1
    you would benefit from reading this: chess.com/article/view/the-principles-of-the-opening
    – retrodanny
    Jan 29, 2013 at 15:42
  • anecdotal, so not an answer, but back when I was a solid 1600 player at the chess club, a older visiting master played me and decided to experiment with what he called 'the hedgehog'. I won.
    – Michael
    Dec 14, 2022 at 22:53

9 Answers 9

13

Using pawns to support pawns is a common practice. However, it seems you're taking it too far; in the beginning of the game you probably want to focus on controlling the center and getting some pieces into the game.

Moving pawns without reason can cause holes and reduce at least one bishop to uselessness. It can make your king hard to defend.

Play through some master games and see how they do it; they don't move a lot of pawns.

10

Maybe. From what I know, in opening theory the closest thing to what you describe is The Stonewall. A few things to note:

  • chess computers have been vulnerable to the Stonewall because the positions are usually without clear tactical lines
  • this could give you an easy early game because inexperienced players don't know how to stop it
  • if your WWW pawns are on white squares, your black bishop is more valuable than your white bishop (and vice versa) so you shouldn't trade your most valuable bishop early, this will leave you with holes in your position and your opponent can place pieces that won't be dislodged easily from those holes

Instead of recommending books on the subject(I don't play the stonewall myself) I'll recommend this youtube playlist on the stonewall.

Since you don't know algebraic notation yet, this might be more useful for starters than a book.

6

Your opening strategy does not make the most out of your pieces, and I am not only speaking about the one bishop you're caging in (the "bad bishop").

Your pawns are not used very cleverly, too. Consider three pawns next to each other at the same rank. They control up to 5 squares in front of them. As they are your cheapest pieces, they effectively deny those squares to the fast minor and mayor pieces of your opponent. They create forbidden territory. Next move the pawn in the middle one rank up. Now you have produced holes through which the enemy might enter the ranks closest to your king. It is a much weaker construction, even though some pawns cover each other. But you have produced weak, uncontrolled squares which the enemy can use to penetrate. It's like having a strong castle wall, but leaving the front door wide open. So even if it might look sturdier, it isn't.

The abilities of your other pieces get suppressed, too. They are not moved when you move pawns instead, although they are stronger than pawns. You can do more damage with minor and major pieces. Most of the time the goal of the opening is to develop your pieces as fast as possible. If you can attack full force while your opponent has still all his weapons in the storage area, you will win. Your heavy restriction on pawn moves means you will be the defender, because chances are your opponent is faster than you in launching an attack.

If you really like closed positions where action is somewhat delayed, pick Colle, Stonewall or something similar, but do not rely totally on pawns. As you do not make the most of the potential of your pieces, you will lose against someone who does.

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Remember that your pawns can never move backwards! Every pawn move you make creates squares that you can never cover with that pawn again. If you play 1.a2-a3, then the square b3 is weakened because there is one less pawn that can defend it for the rest of the game. Avoiding such weakness is especially important in front of your king -- once you've made a few pawn moves on one wing, you don't really want to castle that way anymore.

So you should only move a pawn if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Obviously you can't do without pawn moves, but they should have a purpose.

3

This sort of thing is covered in the very first game of Euwe & Meiden's "Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur". After White's third move resulting in the following position:

[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]
1. f4 d5  2. a4 e6  3. b3

They write: "Very likely the beginner made this move because he was fascinated with the pawn configuration a4-b3-c2 (converting to algebraic from descriptive), rather than because he understood its basic significance in relation to the requirements of the position"

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I think you are taking it too far, at least in the beginning. You should move 1 or 2 pawns at most in the beginning, but get some major pieces out for control of the center such as your knights and bishops. If you move your pawns first while your opponent has brought their major artillery out, you will soon be severely behind in development.

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  • I agree. This strategy is ok in novice-level games, but stronger openings exist. Just my opinion--too defensive and slow. If it's all you know, then by all means continue to use it, but you should branch out. May 9, 2012 at 15:53
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The trouble with a "hedgehog" PAWN strategy, is that you cramp your pieces. Also, spending moves on pawns means that your pieces don't get to move until later.

If your opponent has a good mix of pawn and piece moves, he might be able to sacrifice a minor piece for say, two pawns, and then overwhelm you with superior piece activity.

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Look at the French Defense. So I think if it's part of Opening theory to get pawn chains and maintain them, they can't be all bad. :)

The comment about the Hedgehog really caught my eye. To say it cramps pieces simply is a comment from someone who doesn't understand it.

Traditional chess strategy would have frowned upon Black's setup, since his pieces have little room in which to manoeuvre. In the early 1970s, "'hedgehog' was a generic term for any setup that was cramped, defensive and difficult to attack", but today refers specifically to this formation. The Hedgehog first became extensively analysed in the 1970s, when players began to appreciate the rich variety of strategic ideas that arose from it. While Black's position is cramped, it is also relatively free of weaknesses. There is no obvious way for White to attack Black's pawn structure, but as outlined above, Black has several methods at his disposal for creating counterplay. Thus the Hedgehog has retained its popularity as a system of development in modern praxis. Link

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The question was asked so long ago, but writing an answer for future visitors

The question is interesting for opening slight advantage. But I don't understand what did you mean with the following notation? 1. a3(a4)2. b4(b3)

Did you mean in first move if I play a3 then I have to play b4? And if I play a4 then I have to play b3 to support the forwarded pawn? If that's what you meant then you have to keep in mind that at first, you have to take control of the center with pawns, that's why e4, d4, c4 and f4 is most played move (Let's look at an example so that we can see why should we take center with the pawns).

[fen ""]
1. e4 {e4 is top played move even engines like the move as first move. Cause it
opens up diagonal of the Queen and light-squared bishop. d4 is also good but e4
is slightly better than d4.} 1... Nf6 {Black planned to take center with knight
instead of pawn} 2. e5 {huh $2 black now acknowledged the knight is under attack.
And it has only two squares. g8 and d5} 2... Nd5 {Black didn't want to
un-develop their knight, so he pushed} 3. c4 {Look white has got huge center}
3... Nb6 {Nb4 was also possible but that's bad move cause it will be again
kicked by a3} 4. d4 {trying to paralyze the knight} 4... d6 {It opens a place
for the knight and looking for pawn break. In this position top engine move is
f4 obviously. cause white doesn't want to give up the center advantage. If he
plays something like Qe2 then black will just take the e pawn and 5. Qxe5 $2 Nd6
kicks out the queen. White has central space advantage but not as much as
earlier} *

The above defense is called Alekhine defense named after GM Alekhine. But it gives white slightly central-space advantage so it doesn't favor black that much.

[fen ""]
1. d4 {normal opening to take the center} 1... d5 {symmetrical response} 2. c4
{challenging to give the center} 2... Nf6 $6 {not good move} 3. cxd5 Nxd5 4. e4
{White has got center advantage again. So the common move is 2... c6 (Slav
defense) or 2... e6 (Queen's gambit declined)} *
[fen ""]
1. b4 {Polish opening. This doesn't favor white so it's not played that much. It
can be played when a higher rated player is playing lower rated player.} 1... e5
{Just taking center and attacking the b4 pawn} 2. Bb2 {totally giving up the b4
pawn and attacking e5 pawn} 2... Bxb4 {It actually favors black even after Bxe5
cause the bishop can never be removed from a5. and It can used as an attacking
weapon.} 3. Bxe5 {Attacking g7 pawn and followed by Bxh8 so black has to stop it
with the move Nf6.} 3... Nf6 {It's kind of equal and if white do general
development like Nc3 Nf6 e3 or e4 followed by Bishop anywhere. Then there's a
line where the dark square bishop will be trapped. (I actually don't remember it
but it's available in YouTube). Though engine says the position is equal but in
my eyes black has slight advantage cause the black's dark-squared will be great
piece for attacking and it is pinning d pawn so white has two central pawn (e
and d) but he can't use one of his pawn for about 7-8 moves. And rook won't get
a the e file to control so it will have to be on f1 for so long.} *

Kingside or Queenside space advantage (if you have kindside and queenside then that's another case) < Taking center < Attack

I have got another example where pawn supporting pawn is not the best thing (cause attack is greater than anything).

[FEN ""]

1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 dxe4 4. fxe4 e5

In the above position, I was thinking that if I take the e5 pawn then I will get doubled isolated pawn (though isolated pawn is not the bad thing always, but I don't like it more often, in this case 5... Qa4+ so my king be under attack and wide open in the center). Another idea was 5. c3 cause 5... exd4 6. cxd4 for a moment I totally forgot the fact that Qa4+ exists. So I blindly moved that pawn and I lost that game. After the check I thought, I will be manage to artificial castle on the Queenside. But opponent was so higher rated (around 2000) and for the less opening knowledge I lost. But the main line was

[FEN ""]

1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 dxe4 4. fxe4 e5 5. Nf3 {Qa4+ is more dangerous than losing a pawn.} exd4 {you don't have to capture that pawn for the same reason} 6. Bc4 {you developed faster and Ng5 is threatened. And you are ready to castle. Rook will be happy to be on an semi-open file}
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