# Is pawns supporting pawns a good opening strategy?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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"

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.

• 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. – Eve Freeman May 9 '12 at 15:53

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.

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