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Quoting Irving Chernev:

A brilliant sacrifice which must be accepted. Refusing the Pawn means that Black could never free himself by … d5. It would also enable White to play 16 ♘c3 next move (attacking the Queen) and thus gain time for 17 ♘d5, establishing a strongly supported outpost.

Chernev, Irving. The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played (p. 37).

I have read this multiple times in this book, but I don't quite grasp why an outpost guarded by two pawns is considered stronger than an outpost guarded by only one?

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  • interesting position, what happens if black accepts the free pawn tho?
    – DialFrost
    Mar 28, 2022 at 7:59

2 Answers 2

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An outpost guarded by two pawns is stronger for two reasons.

First, if the piece is guarded by two pawns, that means it is not possible for the opponent to win a pawn by attacking it with pieces. If a knight on d5 was supported only by a pawn on e4, then Black could play something like Nxd5 exd5 Bxd5. But with two pawns guarding the outpost, Black can't win material no matter how many pieces are attacking d5; the best they can get is an even trade.

Second, an outpost can be undermined by attacking the supporting pawn. If there are two pawns supporting it, this obviously becomes more difficult to do.

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Like what @D M has said, an outpost guarded by 2 pawns is extremely strong due to it being hard to undermine and black cannot get any material advantage of position here.

Another reason I would like to add on, is that this double pawn outpost actually baits some to take the knight on d5, which actually just results in white controlling more space in the center and improving his pawn structure, which you probably would not want. However not taking it also allows white to keep that piece there to prevent further development of black and possibly launch and attack since the knight controls e7 and c7

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  • Improving the pawn structure if the opponent captures is something that isn't always the case - but, on the other hand, you are guaranteed to at least have connected pawns if the opponent captures in these situations, and you do have a choice of pawns to capture back with, so perhaps it often improves the structure.
    – D M
    Mar 29, 2022 at 2:53

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