The Chess Project: Installment 3: Passed Pawns

I recently played an 8 (5) blitz game with my friend (each side has 8 minutes to play all his moves, with a 5 second increment added after each individual move).  Since my first post in this series was on mating with the Queen, and since this game ends with me applying the exact procedure I wrote about in that first post, I thought I’d share the game with the Blog (click on 1.e4 to activate the board and follow the game move for move):

As you can see, after 47.h8=Q we have the position I wrote about in the first installment. Click on 47.h8=Q and then see how the mate is executed ‘in motion.’  After 47. the remaining moves were as automatic as can be. I don’t have to think about what to do at all, which is very, very helpful (when I have to think about moves in chess I usually screw up, and almost always end up selecting a sub-optimal move).

The game also illustrates the game-winning effects of a passed pawn–that is, a pawn that cannot be blocked or captured by another pawn.  In the game above, my passed pawn becomes a Queen and makes all the difference.  Of course, it won’t always be as easy to ‘promote’ one’s pawn as it was in the game above.  Sometimes you have to create passed pawns, and it pays to know some tricks for doing so.  For example, check out this position:

White to move and win

This position looks very even, with a slight advantage to White since its a-b-c pawns are more advanced.  As it turns out, however, this makes all the difference, and with the move White can force a passed pawn that Black will not be able to stop from reaching the back rank.  White begins by pushing the middle pawn (in this case, the b-pawn):

Obviously, Black has to capture–otherwise White will capture and promote his pawn. Suppose Black captures with his a-pawn:

White responds by pushing his c-pawn!

White has created a double-threat that cannot be parried in one move.  If Black plays bxc6, then White plays a6, and nothing can stop White’s a-pawn from its promotion.  If Black plays bxa5, then White plays cxb7, and nothing can stop White’s c-pawn from its promotion.  Notice that capturing with the c pawn rather the a-pawn, after White pushes his b-pawn, doesn’t really change anything.  Either way, White is going to create a passed pawn and will win the game.

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2 Responses to The Chess Project: Installment 3: Passed Pawns

  1. Nates says:

    I’m really enjoying these posts, David!

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