Friday, January 20, 2017

A story of doubled pawns: Part 5

In the fifth and final part of our doubled pawn series, I will wrap up by showing a few interesting games featuring the doubled pawns. Before we begin, let us first summarize what we have learned about them so far:

Advantages:

  1. Opening of files. When doubled pawns are formed an adjacent file has to be opened, and this can be exploited by your rooks.
  2. Square control. By far the greatest strength of doubled pawns lies in defense, as they control more squares than regular pawn chains.

Disadvantages:

  1. Limited mobility. Since the second pawn cannot advance unless the first pawn moves, doubled pawns cannot advance quickly.
  2. Vulnerable. The front pawn is prone to attack, as it cannot be defended from behind by a rook..
  3. Weak squares. The square in front of the doubled pawns is usually weak and easily occupied by an enemy piece. While advancing an adjacent pawn helps protect the square, it opens up other weak squares in the vicinity.

We first look at one of my online games played last year. White has two sets of doubled pawns on opposite wings, which prove to be a liability as they are vulnerable to attack. Using the good ol' principle of two weaknesses, Black alternated attacks on both pairs and eventually won material.


Game 2 shows a rather interesting situation: Both sides have doubled pawns. However, Black has control of the open file adjacent to his doubled pawns, and the pressure he exerts on a2 will eventually force White to push a3. Once that is done, Black can advance his pawns in an attempt to undouble them.

On the other hand, White's doubled pawns on the other wing cannot advance easily; Black makes sure of this by blockading them. Thus, while Black advanced on the queenside, White was unable to generate any form of counterplay on the opposite wing.

The game has been analyzed by GM Pachman in his work "Modern Chess Strategy", and I will include several of his annotations in our analysis.


So far we have been hammering on the weak points of doubled pawns. In our third game, we see how they are put to good use by a young Mikhail Botvinnik, who deliberately accepted a pair of isolated doubled pawns that helped control extra squares in the centre.

While his opponent struggled to find any sort of play against the "weak" pawns, Botvinnik simply increased his pressure along the d-file, eventually using it as a battering ram to tear down the enemy defenses.

The bigger the better, obviously



Through this 5-part series, I hope that you have gained a better insight into the truth behind doubled pawns. Rather than just saying that they are weak, now at least you know how to exploit their limited mobility. Or maybe one day you could happily accept doubled pawns that will help you dominate the centre or break into the seventh rank, surprising your opponent who fell under the spell of "doubled pawns are always bad"!

Links:
Part 1: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-story-of-doubled-pawns-part-1.html
Part 2: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-story-of-doubled-pawns-part-2.html
Part 3: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2016/12/a-story-of-doubled-pawns-part-3.html
Part 4: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2016/12/a-story-of-doubled-pawns-part-4.html
Part 5: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2017/01/a-story-of-doubled-pawns-part-5.html

Sources:
"Modern Chess Strategy" by Ludek Pachman
https://www.chess.com/article/view/the-truth-about-doubled-pawns-part-5
http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Grond

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