I'm going through some preparation of the Alapin Sicilian. Studying the opening I reached this position:

rnbqk2r/pp2bppp/3pp3/3nP3/2BP4/5N2/PP3PPP/RNBQK2R w KQkq - 2 8

In which I wonder why it isn't good for white to take on d5 and give black doubled pawns.

Is because giving the bishop pair in this position is simply too much to just cause doubled pawns to black or are there other reasons? Could you please come up with an example explaining why Bxd5 here is a bad idea?

  • 2
    I don't have an answer but it is not directly a doubled pawn because black can take back the white pawn, instead, you might say it will become an isolated pawn.
    – Minot
    Jan 7, 2023 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


I wonder why it isn't good for white to take on d5 and give black doubled pawns.

There are a number of problems with this:

  1. First, the doubled (and isolated!) pawns are at best temporary because white has a pawn on e5 which black can take to eliminate the doubled pawns. (Note, by the way, that the suggestion that black can avoid doubled pawns in the first place with the intermezzo Qa5+ and then Qxd5 is wrong. White counters the check with Nc3 protecting the d5 bishop and black has wasted a move forcing white to play a good developing move that was going to be played anyway)
  2. Giving black the opportunity to move the e6 pawn improves black's position because it unblocks the bad c8 bishop which otherwise has restricted mobility.
  3. A much better move is Nc3 which threatens to win a pawn. O-O is also better.

Here is what is likely if white plays Bxd5

[fen "rnbqk2r/pp2bppp/3pp3/3nP3/2BP4/5N2/PP3PPP/RNBQK2R w KQkq - 1 1"]

1. Bxd5 (1. Nc3!) (1. O-O!) exd5 (1...Qa5+? 2. Nc3) 2. Nc3 dxe5 3. dxe5 Be6

The resulting position is probably very even.

  • So we just aren't scared of the resulting d5 isolated pawn in the position you showed me? Could you explain me why?
    – ela
    Jan 11, 2023 at 0:05
  • @ela The isolated d5 pawn is so famous that it even has an abbreviation - IQP - isolated queen's pawn. Such positions are almost alwaysdouble-edged. Depending on the position the IQP can be a strength, giving attacking potential, or a weakness. The closer it gets to an endgame the more of a weakness it becomes. Here the white pawn on e5 is misplaced. It needs to be back on e3 when it can support a blockader on d4 and later be used as a lever if it gets to a major piece ending where the d5 pawn is in serious danger. This such a big topic that there have been books written on the subject.
    – Brian Towers
    Jan 11, 2023 at 0:22
  • Thank you very much, you explain wonderfully. Could I just ask you an example of the situation you described in which we can use the e3 pawn as a supporter of a blockader and as lever in a major piece ending?
    – ela
    Jan 15, 2023 at 0:04
  • @ela If the e5 pawn were on e3 instead then in the final position in my answer the f3 knight could move to d4 and be supported by the pawn. Now imagine after the final position above that both sides castle, all the minor pieces are exchanged, white puts rooks on d4 and d3 and the queen on d2, black defends the pawn with rooks on d6, d7 and queen on d8. The pawn is defended 3 times and attacked 3 times. It is also pinned because if it captures then white can win a rook by taking the d6 rook. If white's e5 pawn were on e3 instead then white could push it to e4 attacking the d5 pawn.
    – Brian Towers
    Jan 16, 2023 at 0:25
  • Goti it. With pawn in e3 white would have a sort of "tactical breaking push" of the pawn which is typical(thematic maybe?) in IQP endings. Am i right?
    – ela
    Jan 17, 2023 at 1:32

Yes, it doesn't favor white. I am assuming it's white to move.

  1. Bxd5 exd5

What's your next move? You can play exd6 but Qxd6 and now you both have isolated pawn. I believe (don't know what does engine say) it's in black's favor (black have slight advantage for the bishop pair; perfect play might draw the position). You should note that there's Qa5+ which can take d5 instead of exd5. (It doesn't work for Nc3.) So you don't doubled the pawn. Hence why giving up the bishop for nothing (which isn't in your favor)?

  • 1
    White can answer Qa5+ with Nc3 when Black is forced to capture with the e-pawn. Jan 7, 2023 at 15:42
  • 1
    @NoamD.Elkies Ohh Yes, I miscalculated. Jan 8, 2023 at 6:39

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