... We have learnt
what an uncertain life an isolated pawn leads. The centre characterized
by such a pawn-formation, therefore, requires sober evaluation and
careful treatment. The position is so sensitive that even small
errors, imperceptible to an inexperienced eye, cause grave difficulties.
... each of these central situations, no matter how similar they
may seem, is different. A pawn advance on the wing or one piece
placed at a different position can change everything. Strict, constantly
valid rules how to play these positions remain ... out of reach,
no matter how many examples we examine.
However ... some
general guidance can be applied, covering a very large number of
possible cases. These general maxims are the only directions we
can depend upon. If we absorb them by studying typical cases, if
they are a fruit of our analytical work, all the better. So in order
to formulate some general advice we can trust ... our simple, practical
... there exist
two types of central isolated pawns: one movable, aggressive; the
other immovable, controlled and blockaded. These cases result in
utterly different situations.
If the breakthrough
us possible, as a rule, it releases a remarkable amount of energy,
which is manifested in several typical cases:
a) Attack on
the opponent's castled position, carried out after direct, combined
threats on the diagonals b1- h7 and a2-g8, and often supported by
threats on the open e-file;
of the king's knight in the footsteps of advancing isolated pawn;
of the initiative into a strong, active centralized piece;
of the initiative into a better endgame.
In all these
cases, and the record does not leave room for any doubt, the side
which successfully prepares and carries out a central thrust achieves
a very high percentage of wins. The conclusion is self-evident:
a central isolated pawn must be blockaded.
We have seen
that it takes patience, precision in the choice of the move order
and sometimes cunning, too, if we wish to be successful. The counter
measures against an isolated pawn are concentrated on the full domination
over the square in front of the pawn. If such a balance of power
is reached in the centre, the side with the isolated pawn will create
activity based on his mobile pieces: in the first place a dominant
centralized knight, supported by the isolated pawn, or a rook maneuver
on the third rank, coupled with bishops exerting pressure on the
diagonals towards the opponent's castled position. Note, however,
that such activity does not come of itself. As a rule, it is a fruit
of better development, a spatial advantage and actively posted pieces.
The side fighting
against an isolated pawn ... must ... simplify the position through
exchanges constantly watching that no central thrust is possible.
Unquestionable authority over the square in front of the pawn is
Taking all this
into consideration, one can ... emphasize ... two crucial maxims.
1) As the side
with the isolated pawn, save your pieces; do not exchange them lightly,
because an isolated pawn needs company badly. At the same time stay
alert to all the possible tactical blows inspired by the breakthrough,
even at the cost of making a sacrifice.
2) When playing
against the isolated pawn, try to blockade the isolated pawn, concentrating
your effort on the strong square in front of it, reduce material
(most exchanges are welcome) and try to reach an endgame, because
it is not a natural habitat for an isolated pawn and because in
endgames, as a rule, it becomes a lame duck, an immovable target.
White or Black, when playing a position characterized by an isolated
pawn in the centre, should after each move ask the essential question:
can the pawn advance or not? And the next question: what can I do
to prepare the breakthrough? Or vice versa, what can I do to stop
it for good or make it innocuous?
During a game
much will depend on how seriously you ask these questions and how
responsible your answers are.