Sunday, May 31, 2009

How passed is your pawn?

Typically I've thought of pawns as either passed or not passed. However, that isn't a useful way to think of them during games. Since there are three files with potential enemy pawns that stand between a (nonflank) pawn and its freedom, each file that is emptied increases the probability that your pawn can become a passed pawn.

The following diagram shows what I mean, the four cases from zero percent passed to fully passed pawn:

I realize this is sort of goofy, but in practice thinking about passed pawns this way has been helpful during games. It encourages me to look for ways to create passed pawns, and helps me calculate faster which pawn exchanges to make.

Wrinkles include the fact that files can have more than one pawn, and flank pawns pass in halves rather than thirds, but the general idea is the same. Of course there is more to pawns than passing. This is just one criterion to use in evaluating the potency of your pawn structure.


Blogger From the patzer said...

Is this with only pawns on he board or also when there are pieces on the board? Since with pieces on the board i am not certain if the percentages are correct because then it depends also on how the pieces attack or defend the pawns aswell.

5/31/2009 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

CT: a pawn is passed if there are no pawns that can stop it. This doesn't matter even if it is blocked by a Knight. By definition, it is still a passed pawn.

Of course, whether a passed pawn is strong, weak, should be pushed, can be pushed, etc, will rely on your judgment as a chess player. The same with a 2/3 passed pawn, etc.. This ignores all such details which of course are important.

5/31/2009 07:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inspiring! I should look into pawn move patterns for the Chunky Rook. Somebody must have written a monograph on pawn dynamics that could serve as a basis for such a project, or perhaps there's a useful website out there? Any pointers?

6/01/2009 04:26:00 AM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

BDK oke,think i get what you mean. Thanks for the explanation.

6/01/2009 04:53:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Chunkyrook: I like the books by books by Grivas and Marovic.

I have only read bits of them so far, but there are many good principles of pawn play strategy. Both books use full annotated games to make points, so if you don't like that style you might not like them.

6/01/2009 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Tommyg said...

I have both the Grivas and the Marovic books on pawns. I have only read through the isolated pawn sections on each to get a decent idea of what to do with an isolated pawn. I thought books both books complemented each other really well as I felt that the Grivas book had better explanations at the beginning of the chapters and that the Marovic book had better annotations within the games. And maybe, just maybe, I need to get out more often!! :)

6/01/2009 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Misread as "How pissed is your pawn?", which itself could make a valid topic.

6/04/2009 11:40:00 AM  

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