Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pawn

A few words about pawns. The pawns can move one or two steps forward from their starting position and from then on they can only move one step forward at a time. They capture sideways and all pawns except the a-pawn and h-pawn can capture on two squares. There is a special move called en passant.

A pawn is generally worth more the further forward it has moved, because it restricts the movements of the opponent's pieces in the middlegame and also gets closer to its promotion square at the 8-th or 1-st rank.

Different pawns have different functions. The pawns in front of the king are protecting the king from enemy attack. So if you castle kingside, you generally don't want to move the f-pawn, g-pawn and h-pawn at all. Unless you open air against a back rank check mate at some point later in the game.

The pawns in the center usually fight for the center from the very beginning of the game. The c-pawn and f-pawn can be used to support the center. They can also be used to open files by typical motifs c2-c4-c5xd6 and f2-f4-f5xe6. Pawns are great at supporting light pieces in the center and even further in the enemy ranks. For example the d4-pawn supporting a Nc5 or Ne5. Or the famous e5-pawn supporting a Nd6 or Nf6.

When pawns in the center have mobility, then they are very useful in creating attacks. They have a strong potential force and can hang like a black cloud over the opponent's position. For example the pawn structure d4 and e4 against d6 and Nf6. Then there is always e4-e5 hanging in the air. It is generally advantegous to let this threat hang in the air while building up a strong piece collaboration and only later start the attack. This is because such central pawns give an advantage in space and allow for extra maneuvering.

The a-pawn and h-pawn can be very dangerous as passed pawns because they are the furthest away from the center. A bishop on Bg2 with an open diagonal to the a8-square together with a passed a2-pawn can win many games.

The big problem with pawns is that they cannot move back. Moving a pawn without having a clear idea behind the move can have a big minus in a later part of the game. When a pawn moves forward it loses control over 1 or 2 squares. For example after c7-c5 black can no longer chase away white's Nd5 with c7-c6. Goal-less pawn moves cause many losses.