POWERPLAY 5

PAWNS

BY DANNY KING

12/03/2008

 

Phillidor proclaimed that "Pawns are the soul of chess", and Danny King's new Fritztrainer DVD goes a long way to prove that this is indeed the case.  This starts a new chapter in the series that aims at presenting a comprehensive study course on all aspects of the royal game.  From tactical and attacking play he now moves on to positional themes and as the starting point he chooses the lynch pin of positional play - the pawn structure. 

Throughout 5 hours of video, 53 clips and 45 games, this DVD tackles three main themes of pawn play - weak pawns, restraining pawns and a new concept in pawn structures that Danny has christened "3-3 versus 2-4". The subject of the first two themes are self explanatory but the latter needs a little definition.  "3-3" is a pawn formation for one side having two pawn islands of three pawns each on the king and queen flanks, whereas "2-4" is again two islands (or "clumps" as Danny chooses to call them) where one wing has two pawns and the other four pawns.  As he thoroughly demonstrates, this pawn formation occurs in many games and arises from a variety of openings.

As is usual with this series, the student is given a number of exercises to solve but in this case the DVD is structured rather differently from its predecessors.  The tests are set as the first part of the DVD and prior to an in-depth discussion of the various themes.  The answers are expounded in the end section.  This has the benefit of initially testing the understanding of the student's knowledge of pawn play, and then, following the lectures, one can re-visit the tests and apply the ideas garnered from Danny's explanations. 

The theme of weak pawns includes many examples of minority attacks and this is best illustrated by the game Capablanca - Janowski, played in the New York National of 1913. 

From this position, Capablanca carried out a successful minority attack on the king's wing, but some other aspects of White's position are well noted by Danny.  The strong White pawn centre is the foundation of White's win  together with the crippling of Black's queen side pawns.  The themes of weak and crippling pawns are almost bound to overlap and this is a fine example of such a hybrid. 

The lecturer's explanation of such games is extremely lucid and the commentary delivered in Danny's exuberant and witty style is quite inspiring.  One telling remark he makes is that weak pawns do not go out of fashion, the subject is as relevant today as it was one hundred years ago. 

Using some of Capablanca's games as a platform provides extremely good material for the further development of the themes.  

 

Often we mere mortals are puzzled by what seems to be an inexplicable pawn move made by a master.  Such is the case in the diagram opposite where Karpov as Black, playing against Pfleger at Montilla 1976 has just played ....g5.  Why? Little did we realise that, as Danny explains, the object is to restrain the white pawns in order to gain play in another sector of the board. 

Time and time again, we see this in master play, but, because of this DVD it will no longer be a mystery. 

Restraining the opponent's pawns can be a winning theme and knowing how and when to do so is an invaluable piece of knowledge.

The ground-breaking "3-3 versus 2-4" is probably the most important section of this DVD and Danny discusses the merits of both pawn structures vis a vis each other.  Eventually he comes down on the side of the "2-4" but this is only a marginal preference.  Of considerable interest in this section is the manner in which grandmasters set about working with these structures.  Below is an example of the way in which two players had different views on how it it should be treated.

From the diagrammed position opposite, Petrosian playing the white pieces against Portisch at the 1966 Piatigorsky Cup, attacked in the centre trying to make his kings side pawns and influence in the centre tell.  He did not make the most of his chances and eventually drew the game.

Gligoric, however, had different ideas in a game against Filip at Zagreb in 1965, and set about cramping Black's queen side majority and then won on the king side in a rook and pawn ending, having completely immobilised Black's queen side pawns.

It is almost inevitable that in such formations, a decision will not come about until the endgame, but it is important that students know how such formations are achieved and then how to handle them successfully.  Danny provides such advice in a fluent explanation of the games that he examines.

    This DVD is an important piece in the jigsaw that ChessBase and Danny King are putting together.  The marriage of ChessBase media expertise and presentation together with Danny's skills as lecturer and trainer are well demonstrated in this product.  Anyone finishing with all the DVD's that will eventually form this series will have a veritable treasure chest of chess knowledge.

 

Here is a position to test your skills.  You are playing the black pieces.  What plan would you adopt and how would you put the plan into effect.

 

Answer will be given on Saturday 13th November.

The recommended price of this DVD is 21.50 and further details can be obtained by clicking here