Five steps to victory
Five steps to victory

"You will win many games if you train yourself to be aware of and to identify quickly all of your opponent's pawn weaknesses"

Five steps to victory

 

Step #1: Identify the weakness

 

The five steps that I outline here are relatively simple but they account for many of my own victories and they are present in one form or another in most master games.

 

The first step is simple enough. You will win many games if you train yourself to be aware of and to identify quickly all of your opponent's pawn weaknesses. In the following diagram, the two central black pawns form a pawn chain. As we have seen, the backward pawn at d6 is the weaker of the two pawns and represents a key weakness in the black structure.

 

 

 

Step #2: Fix the weakness

 

In the section on Basic Knight Strategy, we saw that it is advantageous to place knights in the center of the board where they cannot be attacked by pawns. Here, too. You can see that it would be useful to place a knight, or another piece for that matter, in the "hole" at d5.

 

 

 

By placing the knight in d5, or even by using the knight to control d5, we prevent black from pushing the pawn from d6 to d5. As you can see in the diagram, white controls the key d5-square with both the knight and the pawn on e4. If black pushes the d-pawn, white will win it. The pawn on d6 has therefore been fixed.

 

Step #3: Attack the weakness with your pieces

 

Once you have identified and fixed the weakness, it is time to attack the weakness with your pieces, but not your pawns. In the following diagram, you can see that white has been successful in arranging an attack upon black's d6-pawn with five different pieces.

 

 

 

Step #4: Your opponent will be forced to defend the weakness with pieces

 

If you have successfully carried out the first three three steps, your opponent will have to carry out the fourth step. For every attack upon the weak pawn, your opponent will have to find a defender.

 

In the following diagram, white is still attacking black's d6-pawn with five pieces, forcing black to defend the poor pawn with five pieces.

 

 

If your opponent fails to defend the pawn adequately, look to take the target-pawn "with the little thing." What "the little thing" is obviously depends upon the position, but is often a knight.

 

Step #5: Then, and only then, attack the weakness with a pawn

 

By the time you've completed step #4, your opponent will know that there's trouble ahead. All of your pieces will be active, focusing their energy upon a single fixed point. By contrast, all of your opponent's pieces will be relative weak, defending rather than attacking a weakness.

 

 

The final step is simple enough. Attack the weakness with a pawn. As you can see in the diagram, black has a large quandry. We know that the d6-pawn has been fixed. Black cannot push the d6-pawn without losing it, and capturing the white pawn on c5 opens the d-file for white's heavy artillery. How would you proceed as white after ...dxc5?