The Thematic Pawn Move – Pushing the “e” Pawn

Generally, in an Indian Defence, if White can get his king pawn to e4, he gains the advantage. Preventing that should be one of Black’s chief concerns.

We’ll start with the Nimzo-Indian to illustrate some ideas with short games.

In the Classical Variation of the Nimzo-Indian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2) Black sometimes plays …b6. This move allows Black to play …Bb7, preventing White’s pawn from moving to e4. Unfortunately, he is a move too slow.

Lodz, 1927
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 b6 5.e4 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 d6 7.f4 Bb7 8.e5 Ne4 9.Nf3 f5 10.exf6 Nxf6 11.Ng5 Qe7 12.Bd3 Nbd7 13.O-O O-O-O 14.Re1 e5 15.Bf5 Kb8 16.Ba3 g6 17.dxe5 gxf5 18.exd6 Qxe1+ 19.Rxe1 cxd6 20.Bxd6+ Ka8 21.Qxf5 1-0


Amsterdam, 1928
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 b6 5.e4 Bb7 6.Bd3 (White’s bishop is on a great diagonal and is supported by the Queen on c2. Black should be wary of castling kingside as the h7 pawn is vulnerable.) 6…Bxc3+?! 7.bxc3 d6 8.Ne2 h6 9.O-O O-O 10.f4 Nbd7 11.e5 Ne8 12.Ng3 c5 13.Qe2 Qh4 14.f5 cxd4 15.Rf4 Qd8 16.cxd4 dxe5 17.dxe5 Nc7 18.Rg4 Qe7 19.Rxg7+ 1-0


Noteboom-Flohr, 1930
[ECO, E32]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 b6 5.e4 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 d6 7.f4 e5 8.Bd3 Qe7 9.Nf3 Nc6 10.O-O Bb7 11.Re1 +/- (Of course White wants the “e” file to be opened soon.)


Dunne (2183)-R. Hughes (2046)
Golden Knights, 1996
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 b6 5.e4 Bb7 6.Bd3 O-O 7.e5 Bxg2 8.exf6 Bxh1 9.Bxh7+ (Of course, this is the main reason White plays .Bd3 in the first place!) 9…Kh8 10.Be4 Bxe4 11.Qxe4 Bxc3+ 12.bxc3 Nc6 13.Bg5 Kg8 14.Qh4 Re8 15.fxg7 f6 16.Bxf6 1-0


We’ll now take a look at the Queen’s Gambit Declined.


Eugenio Torre (2520)-Yukio Miyasaki (2200)
Malta Ol., Nov. 1980
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.d4 Be7 5.Bg5 O-O 6.e3 (Black is doing quite well here in stopping .e4.) 6…Nbd7 7.Qc2 c6 8.Bd3 h6 9.Bh4 Re8 10.O-O Nf8 11.Rad1

[11.Ne5 also worked well in Belen Miguel Fernandez-Esteban Ignacio Gonzalez de Cima, Asturias Ch. Primera B, Norena, Apr. 7 2001: 11…N6d7 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.f4 f6 14.Ng4 Nb6 15. c5 Nbd7 16.Rf3 e5 (On deciding on a candidate move or threat, a player should also ask if his proposed move has depth (long-term gain), a follow up plan, or if such a move also provides defense as well as attacking possibilities. Black’s threat of 17…e4 is obvious, but this move has no depth, does not provide any type of defense, and as far as we know, Black had no follow up plan.)


17.Rg3! e4 (Black’s idea of getting HIS pawn to e4, should make equal sense as White getting his to e4. But chess is not that simple.) 18.Nxh6+! +- Kh7 19.Nf5 Qe6 20.Nxg7 Qe7 21.Nxe8 (And now White can play 22.Nxe4 and more tactics will follow.) 1-0]


11…Nh5 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.e4 (Didn’t we tell Black not to allow this move a few games back?) 13…Nf4 14.Rfe1 Nxd3 15.Qxd3 dxc4 (Just about forced as …exd5 opens lines in White’s favor.) 16.Qxc4 Bd7 17.e5 (Now if e4 is a good move for White, then e5 is even stronger.) 17…Red8 18.Nd2 b5 19.Qe2 c5 20.d5 exd5 21.Nxd5 Qh4 22.Ne4 (We’ve going to give the position a +/-, but White’s advantage is probably stronger than that evaluation.) 22…c4 23.Nd6 Ng6 24.Nxf7! Bg4?


25.Qxg4!! (Black is lost. The game could have continued with 25…Qxg4 26.Nxh6+ gxh6 27.Nf6, but you probably figured it out.) 1-0


Interesting enough, in the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, White can also get the advantage with .e3 instead of .e4. An old trap goes like this: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 b5 4.a4 (White could also play 4.Qf3 c6 5.a4, and merely get his pawn back with the advantage.) 4…c6 (or 4…a6 5.axb5!) 5.axb5 cxb5 6.Qf3!, winning.

This trap will catch beginners and even computers.

Hamburg, 1985
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 b5 4.a4 Ba6 5.axb5 Bxb5 6.Nc3 c6 7.b3 e6 8.bxc4 Ba6 9.Nf3 Nf6 10.Bd3 Bd6 11.O-O O-O 12.e4 Bb4 13.Qc2 Nh5 14.e5 f5 15.exf6 Nxf6 16.Re1 Bc8 17.Bb2 a5 18.Rad1 Ra7 19.Ne5 a4 20.Re3 a3 21.Ba1 Bb7 22.Ne2 Nbd7 23.Nf4 Re8 24.Rh3 Nf8 25.g4 h6 26.g5 hxg5 27.Nfg6 N8h7 28.Nh8 g6 29.Bxg6 Nf8 30.Nhf7 Qe7 31.d5 cxd5 32.Nh6+ Kg7 33.Bxe8 Qxe8 34.Neg4 Be7 35.Ng8 Kxg8 36.Bxf6 Ng6 37.Bxe7 1-0

Black, even with a better third move, still lost in this game:

Nuremburg, 1889
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 Bf5!? 4.Bxc4 e6 5.Qb3 Be4 6.f3 Bc6 7.Ne2 Nf6 8.e4 Be7 9.Nbc3 Qc8 10.d5 exd5 11.exd5 Bd7 12.d6 Bxd6 13.Bxf7+ Kd8 14.Bg5 Nc6 15.Ne4 Be7 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.O-O-O Ne5 18.Nf4 Qb8 19.Qe6 Rf8 20.Nxf6 Bd6 21.Nxd7 Nxd7 22.Rhe1 1-0


Maybe someone will get the bright idea, of when playing Black against a known 1.d4 player, to glue the e4 pawn to the board before the start of the game, so White can’t play his king pawn to e3, e4, e5, or any other square!

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