Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pawn Structures and Pawn Chains: Part 4

Apologies for the long break, I was in a no WiFi zone for the past few days. So now I'm back with a fury (:

In this and subsequent sections, we will take a look at some games detailing the fight both with and against the pawn chain. First, let us look at a classic game annotated by Nimzowitsch:

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. e5 c5
4. c3 Nc6
5. Nf3 f6?

Rather than complete development Black chooses to attack the chain immediately with his pawns. This is an erroneous plan, as we shall see later on. Better was 5...Qb6 (as we should know by now), attacking the chain at its base, and developing a piece in the process

6. Bb5 Bd7
7. O-O Qb6

7... Nxe5? may look strong, but it loses to 8. Nxe5 Bxb5 9. Qh5+

8. Bxc6 bxc6
9. exf6 Nxf6
10. Ne5 Bd6
11. dxc5 Bxc5
12. Bg5 (D)

White has achieved what we discussed in Part 3: He has successfully carried out a blockade by substituting his pawn chain with pieces. Black's early attempt to attack the wedge has backfired-- it was not prepared, and when the main piece exerting pressure on the e5 square (the c6 knight) was exchanged, his plan basically just fell apart. Now, White's centralized knight exerts great pressure within the enemy camp, while the Black central pawns are exposed and susceptible to attack.

12... Qd8

Grabbing a pawn with 12... Qxb2 allows White a huge lead in development with 13. Nd2

13. Bxf6 Qxf6
14. Qh5+ g6
15. Qe2 Rd8
16. Nd2 O-O
17. Rae1 Rfe8 (D)

Black has to contend with his passive d7 bishop and his backward pawn. White, on the other hand, enjoys a dominating effect with his e5 knight.

18. Kh1 Bd6
19. f4 c5
20. c4 Bf8

Black now decides to sac a pawn to gain some counterplay.

21. cxd5 Bc8

21... exd5 loses to 22. Nxd7!

22. Ne4 Qg7
23. dxe6 Bxe6
24. Qa6 Kh8
25. Rd1 Bg8
26. b3 Rd4
27. Rxd4 cxd4
28. Qa5

Played to prevent 28... Rd8

28... Rc8
29. Rd1 Rc2
30. h3 Qb7
31. Rxd4 Bc5
32. Qd8!  (D)

Black has managed to gain some initiative with his pawn sac, but it has also seriously weakened his kingside.

32... Be7
33. Qd7 Qa6
34. Rd3 Bf8
35. Nf7+ Bxf7
36. Qxf7 Rc8
37. Rd7 (D)

Position after 37. Rd7
Black's premature attempt to attack the pawn chain failed as he lacked development and was thus not prepared. Nimzowitsch thus used this game to illustrate the concept of the pawn chain: Even after the chain falls apart, the attacker can still continue to keep up the pressure by centralizing his pieces.

In our next part, we will examine a game where play against the pawn chain proves successful for the defender.

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

"My system, 21st Century Edition" by Aaron Nimzowitsch
"Understanding Pawn Play in Chess" by Dražen Marović

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