21 votes
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Strategy in Isolated Queen Pawn Positions

First of all, the isolated pawn is a dynamic strength, and a static weakness. But what does this mean? This means that he represents a pawn weakness, but compensates this weakness in some other ...
18 votes

Why are side pawns better than center pawns in this position?

Chess strategy is complex and has several ingredients mingling at the same time. It is true that 3 c3 helps white mantaining two center pawns if black decides for a c:d4 pawn exchange. But black isn't ...
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  • 1,166
17 votes
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Why is c4 a better move in this position?

White intends to play c5, which will gain space on the queenside and severely cramp black's position (The b6 knight has no good square). On the other hand, e5 weakens white's control over d5 and f5 (...
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  • 186
17 votes
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What is a pawn hook?

Here's a position from one of my games. I'm playing White versus a master: [FEN "r2qk1nr/pp2bp2/2p1p2p/3pPnp1/1P6/P1N2N2/2P2PPP/R1BQR1K1 b kq - 0 11"] [White "D M"] 1... g4 This ...
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  • 15.1k
14 votes
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What is the "stonewall formation"?

Black usually reaches the Stonewall formation from the Dutch Defense (though QGD is an option as well, if he/she postpones Nf6) and involves putting pawns on c6, d5, e6 and f5. These pawns guarantee a ...
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  • 23.8k
14 votes
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Why is e5 the strongest move here for white?

You've given some good, very long-term reasons not to play e5. But in this position, dynamic considerations outweigh these long-term reasons. Look again at the position: you have developed (if you ...
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  • 21.3k
13 votes
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What are the motivations behind pawn moves on a and h files?

The question is extremely open, as these pawns may be moved for many reasons depending on the position you are facing. In a general sketch, you may consider five kind of a and h pawn moves: To create ...
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13 votes
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How to proceed in this endgame position?

This is a very common kind of endgame, where you have a pawn majority on one side and fight against a single pawn in the center. Winning this is not difficult, but let's first look at your game... ...
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  • 20.3k
12 votes
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Quintuple pawns / Interesting pawn structures

According to Tim Krabbé, Kovacs - Barth, Balatonbereny 1994 was the game with the longest living quadrupled pawns (23 moves). That would imply that he (an authority when it comes to chess records) ...
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  • 23.8k
12 votes

What is it called when opposite colored pawns up against each other?

With the exception of Hans Kmoch's attempt to give it a name, which never caught on (I have never seen anyone else use it anywhere), they really do not have a name that I have even seen. I probably ...
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  • 31.9k
11 votes

Quintuple pawns / Interesting pawn structures

Wikipedia mentions Alekhine-Nenarokov 1907 and van der Wiel-Hort 1981 as two (and by no means the only) games with quadrupled pawns. I can find no mention of quintupled pawns.
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  • 14.5k
11 votes

How to quickly calculate two pawns facing two pawns

Since this is happenning so early in the game, the best idea is probably not to get involved in deep calculations, but rather to get some knowledge about the pawn structures that could arise from ...
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  • 13k
10 votes

Understanding the Tarrasch defence to the Queen's gambit

What is the idea behind 4... c5? Basically the same ideas as behind playing c4 in the Queen's gambit: challenging the center, potentially exchanging the c-pawn for a valuable central pawn, ...
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  • 20.3k
10 votes
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Why isn't Bird's Opening at least as popular as the Dutch Defence?

A good opening for Black seldom is a great choice for White even with a tempo up. Grandmaster Alex Yermolinsky discusses reasons for this in his book "The Road to Chess Improvement". One of the main ...
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  • 12.8k
9 votes
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How to break through their "Great Wall of China"

In order to make progress, one or both of you need to break through that wall. Each of you seem to have the best chances on the side near the opponent's King--you have a passer on the kingside; your ...
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  • 2,113
9 votes
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Is this blocked situation a draw? If not, how can I win as Black?

This is a dead draw. There are no sensible piece sacrifices for either side. There is no plan that isn't easily parried (Black could gang up on the a5-pawn with Qd8 and Bc7, but white just doubles ...
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9 votes

How to proceed with the book "Pawn Structure Chess" by Andrew Soltis?

I'm not familiar with the book itself, but for learning pawn structures it isn't important to memorize every single thing. The key is to understand the general ideas behind each structure. E.g.: what ...
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9 votes
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Pawn storm, should I start with h4 or g4?

Typically you use a pawn storm to exchange pawns around the castled enemy king and thereby to open lines and diagonals for an attack. Most of the time you want a closed (to some extent) center in ...
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  • 20.3k
8 votes

How to break through their "Great Wall of China"

White cannot break this Great Wall of China in this position. In fact, White is slightly worse and here's why - 1. Pawn chain Black's pawn structure is better than White's. The pawn on e6 is the ...
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  • 9,215
8 votes

Why does the computer want to undermine this pawn chain at the tip instead of at its root?

You would like an answer that does not "go into deep variations", but if all such questions could be answered just on general principles, chess would not be as interesting as it is. In this particular ...
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  • 7,412
8 votes
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How do I decide what color squares to place my pawns on?

This is a very complicated subject since there are a lot of other factors that come into play so I will give some examples, but there are no general rules that apply in all circumstances. First, let'...
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  • 31.9k
8 votes
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What is it called when opposite colored pawns up against each other?

I think what you're asking about is referred to as a "blocked pawn". There is another question here that asks basically the same question, except in reverse... A pawn can also be blocked by another ...
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  • 3,469
8 votes
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Positional chess understanding in the early game

The main point of the engine recommending exd5 is because it opens up the diagonal from c8 to h3. By playing an early e6, the bad light squared bishop is really weak and has terrible scope, which is ...
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7 votes

Is Colle-Zukertort a good way to improve beginner play?

Having read The Colle Move by Move by Cyrus Lakdawala, Zuke 'Em-The Colle Zukertort Revolutionized & The Moment of Zuke by David I. Rudel, Killer Chess Opening Repertoire by Aaron Summerscale, ...
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  • 121
7 votes

Are isolated passed pawns good or bad?

I frequently face situations in the late middle game (perhaps only a one minor piece and a rook or two on each side, no queens) where I can force a position (via exchanges) where both players are ...
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7 votes

Best books on middlegame strategy?

The two books by John Watson about strategy. These themes are considered from a historical viewpoint usually in contrast to the way they are presented in textbooks. Even if you find a favorite ...
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7 votes
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Why does the computer want to undermine this pawn chain at the tip instead of at its root?

Yes, Black want to play ...e5 eventually (even though the root of the pawn chain is actually at f2). But that doesn't mean you need to play it now, if there are better moves at hand. It seems ...
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  • 23.8k
7 votes

How can I improve my knowledge of pawn structure theory?

The old classical book by Hans Kmoch, Pawn Power in Chess is almost entiely devoted to this subject. It is often used as a reference because of its numerous useful examples, but also mocked for the ...
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  • 12.8k
7 votes
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Understanding The Isolani Pawn

To answer your first question, in these structures, white has more space and because of that, he can put his pieces in more advanced positions. Black's king is usually on the kingside in these ...
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