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.
- I play dxc5.
- I play cxd5.
- Black plays cxd4.
- 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?