How to quickly calculate two pawns facing two pawns

A situation that often seems to confuse me is when I push a pawn alongside two pawns that are head-to-head and my opponent pushes the opposing pawn, such as when Black plays c5 to my c4.

``````rnbqkbnr/pp3ppp/4p3/2pp4/2PP1B2/8/PP2PPPP/RN1QKBNR w KQkq - 0 4
``````

Suddenly, there are four moves to consider.

1. I play dxc5.
2. I play cxd5.
3. Black plays cxd4.
4. Black plays dxc5.

I find it challenging to quickly sort through the options and even understand whether I'm losing or gaining a pawn, let alone considerations like the resulting pawn structure. In this case, it looks like if I play cxd5, Black may end up with an isolated d pawn.

Are there any shorthand methods for quickly analyzing these two-pawns-facing-two-pawns situations to predict the outcome? Or, failing that, rules of thumb which lead to reasonable outcomes?

• I suggest a search in databases. My experience but a not exhaustive one, teached me that the first to capture is usually the first to lose its advantage. Just check under what circunstances it holds true. Look for the moves that defends attacked squares after some piece capture one of the pawns, particularly with an incomplete development as in position shown. Jun 15, 2021 at 5:51
• @djnavas forcing your opponent into an isolated-central-pawn type of structure is sometimes a good idea though Jun 15, 2021 at 7:57
• @djnavas: Your experience is backed up by GMs - at least once I read that in Pd3/e4/f4/g3 vs Pd6/e5/f5/g6 you should not take first. (Disclaimer: chess is concrete.) Jun 15, 2021 at 8:16