I have seen few times, masters use their f,g,h pawn to attack opponent's king (even if the player castled kingside). Whenever I see a weak position of king, I suspect, king is "under attack" (not now, but sooner it will be). What's the philosophy behind the attack?

My thought process :

  1. Center has to be closed (closed-center favors the attackers. In one of my Magnus's game, his opponent started attacking with pawn storm and center was closed so Magnus, at first, started opening up the center then attack, nonetheless he lost. In that game, they castled opposite side. Magnus queenside and opponent kingside. I am not that professional to memorize the whole game neither I don't remember when it was played, perhaps recently).
  2. Opponent's attacking piece should be on the opposite side.
  3. Player's minor piece will defend the king and pawns will attack the opponent king.

(After writing the question, I remembered another thought process, but I didn't have time to open up the site)

  1. When player puts a bishop on b2 or g2 square (b7 or g7 from black's perspective), they can throw their pawns. Opponent most of the time tries to exchange the bishop, to weaken the bishop's square (In Silman's book, he even mentioned to trade the bishop unless sometimes, it might be stuck by tall pawn). (I generally don't put my bishop there and I try to open up the file for rook by throwing only f pawn, g and h pawn forever remains there until endgame)

Is there anything else, I have to keep in when attacking with pawns? Even when Stockfish says to use pawn storms to attack the opponent king, I just scare that king is open.

I remember once, (I was much more weak player that time, around 1100 in chess.com), I used my pawns to attack the king while weakening my king. But the opponent managed to close the kingside then started attacking on queenside, I had huge advantage for advanced pawn but I lost, cause I was scared of my weaken king and opponent managed to hunt my weak king, even I tried to won the game (when the eval dropped-down to equal), that's why I just lost.

  • Try to get Vukovic's "Der Rochade-Angriff" (no idea if this classic book has an English version). It also has a paragraph describing when to attack with pawns and when with pieces. Your ideas above are on the right track. Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 8:27

2 Answers 2


Abstract questions hardly ever have final answers in chess. Specific threats will always take precedence over deeper strategic concepts. Still:

You're right in your principles. For example if the kings are castled on opposite sides of the board, players can be a bit more careless about the way they storm the enemy king with pawns. For instance, in this example White doesn't have any trouble attacking with the "g" and "h" pawns, even if that requires a sacrifice, in order to open the "h" file and harass the enemy king (note also the trade of the dark-squared bishops to remove defenders around the Black king).

As for pushing pawns on the side your own king is castled, it's true that one must be more careful. It's not really about the center being closed but rather about the opponent not being able to make a significant strike against it:

This is a typical example where White struggles to open up the center while Black hits hard on the kingside.

Here you can see a game where White attacked with the "g" pawn in front of their king. The reactions on e5 or d5 by Black don't achieve much and by playing g4-g5 White is also kicking away a knight that had influence on the center. Eventually White can bring their pieces to the kingside and start an attack.


The strategy isn't same at all level. I was playing in a tournament (rapid tournament so I forgot the game, can't even recall a single position (middlegame) to analyze) where I pushed kingside pawn.

My strategy was simple :

  1. No minor or major pieces is traded (trading few pieces doesn't affect it).
  2. Major pieces are attacking (and defending) from large distance of the enemy king.
  3. 1 or 2 minor pieces are defending (sometimes 1 is enough depending on the position (when opponent's attack isn't strong enough)).
  4. It's better if center is closed (The following example is also valid)
[FEN "8/8/8/2p1p3/2PpP3/3N4/8/8 w - - 0 1"]

  1. You should ask yourself does my opponent have any counter play on the Queenside to create some attack from opposite side of the board. Not instantly but after 5-10 moves later (if your attack takes much more time).
  • In the tournament round, my opponent had counter-play on the Queenside but that was stopped by my one piece. I ended up losing on time. Since he was so much higher rated than me (for what I took very much time in complicated middle-game). Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 13:31

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