According to Irving Chernev in his summary of Queen's pawn opening on page 100 in Logical Chess there is one important step black should do in any Queen's Pawn opening ...c5. How true is this today? enter image description here

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    Please could you repeat the relevant part of that page in plain text? Several reasons: Some people rely on screen-readers, which can't read the text of images. It's bright, and thus not readable by people who need to be close to something to read it, but can't cope with such bright light that close. You've overlain blue boxes over some of the text -- I guess you wanted to bring it to our attention, but those boxes make it harder to read. And people use Ctrl-+ to resize plain text to be big enough to read, but images can't be enlarged.
    – Rosie F
    Mar 5, 2022 at 20:59
  • I had put in an edit that replaced the image with the text, but apparently it wasn't accepted (or it was rolled back or something). Mar 5, 2022 at 21:51

3 Answers 3


How true is this today? As true as it was then. Extremely true and important.

The reason is simple: it is a principle of middle-game theory that both sides should strive to achieve a central pawn break. In Queen Pawn games, white has a central pawn in d4, which leaves two pawn breaks for black: e5 or c5.

e5 is generally difficult to achieve because of several reasons. Firstly, white tends to have great control of such square with a knight on f3 or bishop on f4 (or g3 in some lines). On the contrary, white's pieces do not tend to have much control of c5 on this openings.

In simpler words, you really want a pawn break and while e5 is difficult c5 is easy.

As a plus, it is better to trade white's d4 pawn for your c-pawn rather than your e-pawn, the reason being that it is generally preferable to trade a side-pawn for a central-pawn.

  • and why should one strive to achieve a pawn break in center instead of on the sides?
    – miniHessel
    Mar 6, 2022 at 23:16
  • The side that controls the center has an advantage. The reason is simple. The player with better control of the center can more easily maneuver pieces from one side to the other of the board, if needed. This "ease of move" is crucial both to prepare or to defend an attack on any of the flanks. Central control also allows a player to more securely place his pieces in the center, where usually they are more effective. The importance of central control makes it crucial to undermine your opponent's center, and the best way to do this is through a (well-´prepared) pawn-break.
    – lafinur
    Mar 7, 2022 at 1:01

(I didn't read the excerpt, so I might repeat his summary.)

The purposes of the c5 break is to destroy white's center, free your pieces, and to ease the game. This can be accomplished by the e5 break, but most lines (back then) had b6 played to develop the bishop, so c5 was easier to force.

There are many top level games where the restricted black queen's bishop is the cause of a lost game. There are some examples of black playing a tough defensive game without any center action, but these are difficult.

The axiom is still true and more useful than many rules-of-thumb. such as passed pawns must be pushed.


To imply that ..c5 is essential in all Queens Pawn openings is certainly an overstatement but it does depend a bit on how you define a Queens Pawn opening. If it is merely that White opens 1.d4 then there are many defences than do not require ..c5, but probably Chernev had in mind the reply 1..d5. It is quite popular these days, and was not popular in Chernevs time, to play the Slav Defence 2.c4 c6 with the intention of later playing ..dxc4 and trying to keep the Pawn with ..b5. At some stage of these lines ..c5 might come into consideration but the situation is far too complex for easy generalizations. Wikipedia has an excellent article on the semi-Slav, which continues 3. Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6. White can prevent Blacks intentions, for example by exchanging cxd or by protecting with e3. Or he may allow the capture and hope for compensation. I have not looked at Chernev in a long time and I forget what he says about the Slav.

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