Understanding before Moving 72: Pawn chains in the French Defense (1)

by ChessBase
3/27/2022 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books about chess training and chess strategy. In the 72nd instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman talks about pawn chains in the French Defense. | Photo: Pascal Simon

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Earlier we  talked about pawn chains in the King's Indian Defense and if we mirror this chain over an imaginary line drawn between the d-line and the e-line, we get a pawn chain that often arises from the French  Defense.

What can we say about pawn chains? To begin with, a pawn chain consists of pawns that are fixed and locked with each other. Both chains have a base (the back pawn of the chain) that is the attacking target on which the other side must focus its attention. This battle, in which both players try to maneuver their pieces to ideal squares requires deep strategic insight.

In the French Defense there are several specialists who know how to handle these closed positions. One of the most accomplished strategists, who loved to play the French, was former World Champion Tigran Petrosian. He often quickly went off the beaten path to find his own  ways in lines which almost no one ventured to try.

I remember that the Dutch grandmaster Hans Ree once let it slip that there was only one player in the world who knew how to properly carry out careful regroupings of his pieces in this type of position: Petrosian!

In the diagrammed position Petrosian has managed to accumulate a number of positional advantages. What are these advantages and do you see how Petrosian managed to convert them into more something more concrete?



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