Understanding before Moving 77: Pawn Majorities (1)

by ChessBase
5/1/2022 – 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 77th instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman talks about pawn majorities. | Photo: Pascal Simon

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When studying pawn structures you should always have an eye on pawn majorities. Sometimes pawn majorities are already formed in the opening, and it is important to realize that these majorities can become crucial in the middlegame or in the endgame.

The Spanish Exchange Variation is a typical example for an opening, in which pawn majorities arise early in the game. After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 White soon exchanges his d-pawn for Black's e-pawn with d2-d4, e5xd4 to establish a pawn majority on the kingside. Black nominally also has a pawn majority on the queenside but the doubled c-pawns make this majority rather worthless because Black will have problems to create a passed pawn. However, the bishop pair gives Black adequate compensation.

But this compensation might vanish during the game and that is why players with excellent  technical skills like to play this line with White - they often manage to neutralise Black's bishop pair to get an endgame in which the pawn majority is a decisive factor.

In the diagrammed position, Dutch grandmaster Jan Timman has managed to create a passed pawn from his pawn majority, and with energetic play he soon had a winning position. What did he do?

 

 

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