Queen versus Three 3 Connected Pawns

Most of you know how to win a Queen versus a single pawn in the endgame. Some of you may also know how to do the same if your opponent has, not one, but two pawns in the endgame.

White to Play and Win
[Berger, 1922]

1.Qg8+ Kf2
(1…Kh1 2.Qg3 a3 3.Qf2 a2 4.Qf1#) 2.Qh7 Kg3 3.Qg6+ Kf2 4.Qe4 Kg3 (4…a3 5.Qh1 ; 4…Kg1 5.Qg4+ Kf2 6.Qh3 Kg1 7.Qg3+ Kh1 8.Qf2 +-) 5.Kc5 (5.Qh1 +-) 5…a3 6.Kd4 a2 7.Qh1 a1=Q+ 8.Qxa1 Kg2 9.Qb2+ Kg1 (9…Kg3 10.Qb7 +-) 10.Ke3 h1=Q 11.Qf2mate

And a few of you may know what to do if your opponent has these two pawns connected.

Rahman (2269)-Haque (2206)
United Insurance
Dhaka, 2007
1.Nf3 d6 2.g3 e5 3.c4 Bg4 4.Bg2 c6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.d3 Nbd7 7.h3 Bh5 8.Nh4 Be7 9.O-O O-O 10.Rb1 a5 11.a3 Re8 12.b4 axb4 13.axb4 Bf8 14.b5 Qc7 15.Be3 Ra3 16.Rb3 Rea8 17.Qc2 d5 18.bxc6 bxc6 19.Bc1 Rxb3 20.Qxb3 d4 21.g4 Nc5 22.Qc2 dxc3 23.gxh5 Nxh5 24.Qxc3 Ra2 25.Be3 Ne6 26.Qb3 Ra3 27.Qb2 Nhf4 28.Rb1 Qa5 29.c5 Qc3 30.Qb8 Nxe2+ 31.Kh2 Ra1 32.Rb3 Qe1 33.Nf3 Qd1 34.Qxe5 Qxb3 35.Qxa1 Qxd3 36.Bf1 Qc3 37.Qa4 N2f4 38.Qxc6 Ng6 39.Qd5 Bxc5 40.Bxc5 Qxc5 41.Qxc5 Nxc5 42.Bc4 Ne4 43.Kg1 Kf8 44.Bd3 Nc5 45.Bc2 Nf4 46.Kh2 h6 47.Nd4 g6 48.Kg3 Nce6 49.Nc6 Ne2+ 50.Kg2 N2d4 51.Nxd4 Nxd4 52.Be4 f5 53.Bd3 g5 54.h4 Kg7 55.Kg3 g4 56.Kf4 Kf6 57.Bc4 Ne6+ 58.Kg3 Ke5 59.f3 h5 60.fxg4 hxg4 61.h5 Nf4 62.h6 Nh5+ 63.Kh4 Nf6 64.Bd3 Kf4 65.Bb5 Ke3 66.Kg5 g3 67.Bf1 f4 68.Kxf6 f3 69.h7 Kf2 70.h8=Q Kxf1

71.Qh3+ Kf2 72.Qh4 Kg2 73.Qe4 Kf2 74.Qc2+ Kf1 75.Qd3+ Kf2 76.Qd2+ Kf1 77.Qe3 Kg2 78.Qe4 Kf2 79.Qh4 Kg2 80.Qe4 Kf2 81.Kf5 g2 82.Kf4 g1=Q 83.Qc2+ Kf1 84.Qd1+ Kf2 85.Qd2+ Kf1 86.Kxf3 Qh1+ 87.Kg3 Qg1+ 1/2-1/2

(Well, maybe it’s not a win in all cases!)

But I assume no one has faced, with his sole queen, an endgame where your opponent has three pawns, all connected. It is extremely rare endgame and not too much research has been done on it.

Nevertheless, we can adopt some strategies and good ideas from other endings.

1) Do not expect an easy ending. While it is true that a queen versus three connected pawns has the advantage, maybe even a winning one, it does not always mean the victory will be an easy one.

2) Stalemates and draws are possible, and sometimes unavoidable. Still this is better than losing.

3) The win for the single Queen side is much easier when the pawns are not passed the fourth rank. The win, if still possible, is much harder when pawns are on the fifth to the seventh rank.

4) Keep, or get, your queen to position herself in front of the pawns.

5) Try to get your king close to the pawns. He can always pick up the stragglers.

6) The corollary of the above strategy is to keep the enemy king away from his own pawns. He can protect them or use his pawns to block a check.

7) If you are going to check, make sure your check moves the enemy king away from his pawn or your queen closer to the front of the pawns.

8) Assuming everything else is equal, try to win the middle pawn first. That way, the remaining pawns are now isolated.

Here, Black has is ready to promote. White uses a staircase sequence to get his queen in front of the pawns. Note that all three pawns are on or past the fourth rank.

Ziatdinov (2467)-Blatny (2563)
World Open, 2003
1.e4 g6 2.d4 c6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Nbd2 d5 5.c3 a5 6.Bd3 Na6
(Other moves in this crazy opening are 6…Nh6 and 6…e6.) 7.O-O Nc7 8.Re1 e6 9.Nf1 Ne7 10.h4 h6 11.Ng3 b6 12.Bf4 Ba6 13.Bxa6 Rxa6 14.Be5 O-O 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Qd2 Ne8 17.Rad1 Ra7 18.Ne5 Nf6 19.h5 gxh5 20.Qe2 dxe4 21.c4 Qe8 22.Nxe4 Nxe4 23.Qxe4 f5 24.Qf3 Kh7 25.Nd3 Ng6 26.Qxh5 Rd7 27.Re3 Qf7 28.Rh3 Qg7 29.Rg3 Rxd4 30.Nf4 Rxf4 31.Rxg6 Qxg6 32.Rd7+ Qg7 33.Rxg7+ Kxg7 34.Qh2 e5 35.Qg3+ Kf6 36.Qe3 Rxc4 37.Qxh6+ Kf7 38.Qh7+ Ke6 39.Qg6+ Kd5 40.Qg7 Rd8 41.Qf7+ Kd4 42.Qxf5 Rd5 43.Qf3 Kc5 44.Qe3+ Rcd4 45.g4 Kb5 46.Qe2+ Rd3 47.Kf1 Kc5 48.g5 e4 49.Qxe4 Rd1+ 50.Ke2 R1d2+ 51.Ke3 Rxb2 52.g6 Rb4 53.Qe7+ Kb5 54.f3 Rb1 55.Kf4 a4 56.Qe3 Rb2 57.Kg3 Rdd2 58.Qe5+ Kb4 59.Qxb2+ Rxb2 60.g7 Rb1 61.Kg2 Rb2+ 62.Kh3 Rxa2 63.g8=Q Rc2 64.Qd8 b5 65.Qd1 Kb3 66.Qb1+ Kc3 67.f4 a3 68.f5 a2 69.Qa1+ Kb3 70.f6 Rd2 71.Kg3 c5 72.f7 Rd8 73.Kf4 Rf8 74.Qg7 Rxf7+ 75.Qxf7+ Kb2

76.Qf6+ Kb1 77.Qf5+ Kb2 78.Qe5+ Kb1 79.Qe1+ Kb2 80.Qe2+ Kb1 81.Qxb5+ 1/2-1/2

Black’s pawns are too far advanced for White to win. But Black is also in a bind, which means he can’t win either.

Karbitz, Aug. 18 1924

68…f1=Q! 69.Qxf1 h1=Q! 70.Qxh1=

And what is the result if all three pawns are on the seventh rank? The one with the Queen has to be careful, and lucky!

White to Play and Draw

1.Qh3 d1=Q
(1…f1=Q 2.Qh4+ Qf2 3.Qh1+ Qf1 4.Qh4+ Kd1 5.Qa4+ =; 1…d1=N 2.Qg3 Ne3 3.Qxe3 f1=Q 4.Qc1+ Kf2 5.Qf4+ =) 2.Qc3+ Qd2 3.Qa1+ Qd1 4.Qc3+ Kf1 5.Qh3+ =

Pawn Pusher!

Sometimes beginners are referred, somewhat in jest, as being mere “pawn-pushers”. Try telling that to these Grandmasters.


Typically, most pawns are pushed towards the end of the game with the goal of eventually promoting. But pawns don’t need to promote and pawn pushing can happen at any stage of the game. In fact, it is possible to win a game with pawn moves only.

R. Kujoth – Fashing-Bauer
Milwaukee, 1950
1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.a3 Nc6 4.axb4 Nf6 5.b5 Nb8

[The (in?)famous game, Frank Marshall-Viacheslav Ragosin, New York, 1940, continued instead with 5…Nd4 6.c3 Ne6 7.e5 Nd5 8.c4 Ndf4 9.g3 Ng6 10.f4 Ngxf4 11.gxf4 Nxf4 12.d4 Ng6 13.h4 e6 14.h5 Bb4+ (And now, after 14 moves, Marshall had to finally move a piece.) 15.Bd2 Bxd2+ 16.Nxd2 Ne7 17.Ne4 Nf5 18.h6 g6 19.Nf6+ Kf8 20.Nf3 d6 21.Ng5 dxe5 22.dxe5 Qxd1+ 23.Rxd1 Ke7 24.Rh3 b6 25.Bg2 Rb8 26.Ngxh7 1-0.]


6.e5 Qc7 7.d4 Nd5 8.c4 Nb6 9.c5 Nd5 10.b6!




John Hurt (1831)-Morris Busby
Bluff City Open, February 17, 1979
1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.a3 Nc6 4.axb4 Nf6 5.b5 Nd4 6.c3 Ne6 7.e5 Ne4 8.d4 d5 9.f3 N4g5 10.h4 1-0


Pawn pushing can be used in the middle game. To good effect.


GM Vassily Ivanchuk (2740)-GM Veselin Topalov (2670)
Belgrade, 1995
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Rc8 11.Bb3 h5 12.O-O-O Ne5 (The Soltis Variation of the Dragon.) 13.Bg5 Rc5 14.g4 hxg4 15.f4 Nc4 16.Qe2 Qc8

[This appear to be Black’s best move. Sarunas Sulskis (2505)-Dr. Evarth Kahn (2350), Budapest 1995 continued with 16…b5!? 17.h5 Nxh5 18.f5 a5 19.Qxg4 a4 20.Bxc4 Rxc4 21.Rxh5 gxh5 22.Qxh5 Rxd4 23.Rh1 f6 24.Qh7+ Kf7 25.Bh6 Bxf5 26.Qxg7+ Ke6 27.exf5+ 1-0.]

17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Nd5 Rxd5!! (This move certainly looks like it gives the initiative to Black. Can it be sustained? Or is it an illusion? White several plans to try to counter Black’s threats. But first, the most obvious move.) 19.exd5 b5 20.h5 (Now here is where it starts to get complicated.) 20…g5!? (It’s obvious Black intends to push his kingside pawns. Doing so will put a cramp on both White’s attack on the kingside and more importantly, the coordination of his pieces.) 21.fxg5 Bxg5+! (Black will use the extra tempo to push another pawn.) 22.Kb1 f5 23.Rd3 (It’s been recommended that 23.h6, pushing White’s pawns to counter Black’s advancing pawns, is the better move.) 23…f4 24.Bxc4 Qxc4 0-1


[Ivanchuk was criticized for resigning here. It’s not an easy position to hold. Some sample lines: (1) 25.Qd2 Kh7 26.Qg2 Kh8 27.b3 Qc8! Black’s king is hiding and his queen can reposition herself., (2) 25.Qg2 Kh8 26.Re1 b4 and Black’s queenside pawns start advancing, (3) 25.Rc3?! Qxd4 26.Rc7 Bf5 (a “fantasy” position for Black). In addition to Black’s dangerous kingside pawns he now has both bishops aiming for White’s castled position, (4) 25.Ne6?! fails to 25….f3! 26.Qd1 Bxe6. Maybe Ivanchuk saw all of this.]


Obviously, one has to be careful pushing pawns. When a pawn is advances it leaves holes where the enemy pieces can hold or attack.


The following games illustrates this point. And features some serious pawn pushing.


GM Boris Spassky-GM Bobby Fischer
World Ch., Game #13
Reykjavik, July 11 1972
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 Bg7 7.Nbd2 (ECO gives this move a “?!”, suggesting 8.Ng5.) 7…O-O 8.h3!? (8.O-O!?) 8…a5! (To create space and threaten …a4.) 9.a4 dxe5 10.dxe5 Na6 11.O-O Nc5 (-/+ ECO) 12.Qe2 Qe8 13.Ne4 Nbxa4 14.Bxa4 Nxa4 15.Re1 Nb6 16.Bd2 a4 17.Bg5 h6 18.Bh4 Bf5 19.g4 Be6 20.Nd4 Bc4 21.Qd2 Qd7 22.Rad1 Rfe8 23.f4 Bd5 24.Nc5 Qc8 25.Qc3 e6 26.Kh2 Nd7 27.Nd3? c5! 28.Nb5 Qc6 29.Nd6 Qxd6 30.exd6 Bxc3 31.bxc3 f6 32.g5 hxg5 33.fxg5 f5 34.Bg3 Kf7 35.Ne5+ Nxe5 36.Bxe5 b5 37.Rf1 Rh8 38.Bf6 a3 39.Rf4 a2 40.c4 Bxc4 41.d7 Bd5 42.Kg3 Ra3+ 43.c3 Rha8 44.Rh4 e5 45.Rh7+ Ke6 46.Re7+ Kd6 47.Rxe5 Rxc3+ 48.Kf2 Rc2+ 49.Ke1 Kxd7 50.Rexd5+ Kc6 51.Rd6+ Kb7 52.Rd7+ Ka6 53.R7d2 Rxd2 54.Kxd2 b4 55.h4 Kb5 56.h5 c4 57.Ra1 gxh5 58.g6 h4 59.g7 h3 60.Be7 Rg8 61.Bf8! (Locking in the rook.)


61…h2 62.Kc2 Kc6 63.Rd1 b3+ 64.Kc3 h1=Q 65.Rxh1 Kd5 66.Kb2 f4 67.Rd1+ Ke4 68.Rc1 Kd3 69.Rd1+ [Gligorić, writing in Informant 14, (Game #165) give this move a ??, claiming that 69.Rc3+! Kd4 70.Rf3 c3+ 71.Ka1 c2 72.Rxf4+ Kc3 73.Rf3+ Kd2 74.Ba3! is equal. He appears to be correct.] 69…Ke2 70.Rc1 f3 71.Bc5 Rxg7 72.Rxc4 Rd7 73.Re4+ Kf1 74.Bd4 f2 0-1

Poisoned Pawn?

The term “Poisoned Pawn” appears twice in the opening naming lexicons. It can also be used in a more broader sense.


In general, the pawn on b2 is attacked by Black’s queen. If he does, he sure to face a massive, and sometimes very long, attack by the White’s pieces.


The question is, not can he take the pawn. But rather, can he withstand the attack? If he can, then he’ll be up a pawn in the endgame.

In a more literary sense, can Black eat the pawn without suffering indigestion? Now you know where the word, “poisoned” comes from.

Let’s get started.




The Poisoned Pawn in the Najdorf is defined by the moves; 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6.



White usually continues with 8.Qd2, allowing Black to take his b2 pawn. He knows that if nothing else, he’ll be one attacking. But how best to attack? And what to do when Black, as he typically does, counterattack?


Fischer was the main advocate of this Najdorf version, who played it from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s. Here is Fischer in his prime.


GM Bruno Parma-GM Fischer
Rovinj/Zagreb, Croatia, Apr. 12, 1970
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Be2 Bg7 12.O-O f5 13.Rfd1 O-O 14.exf5 exf5 15.Nd5 Nc6 16.Nxc6 bxc6 17.Ne7+ Kh8 18.Nxc8 Rfxc8 19.Qd3? (>19.Qxd6 Qxa2 20.Qc5, with the idea of Bd3) 19…Qc5+ 20.Kh1 Re8 -/+ 21.Qc4 Qxc4 22.Bxc4 Re4 23.Bxf7 Rf8 24.Bh5 Rxf4 25.Rb6 (>25.Rxd6 Rh4 with the idea of Be5 -/+. With the text move, White falls further behind.) 25…Be5 26.Rxa6 Rh4 27.Bf3 Rxh2+ 28.Kg1 c5 29.Ra8 Rxa8 30.Bxa8 Rh4 31.Bc6 Rb4 32.a4 Rb2 33.c4 Kg7 34.Rd3 Ra2 35.Kf1 Kg6 36.Re3 h5 37.Re2 Ra3 38.Rd2 h4 39.Ke2 Bf4 40.Rd3 Ra2+ 41.Kd1 Kf6 42.Rf3 Be5 43.Rd3 Ke7 44.Rd2 Ra3 45.Ke2 Bc3 46.Rd3 Ra2+ 47.Kd1 Bd4 48.Rh3 Bf6 49.Re3+ Be5 50.Rd3 Kd8 51.Rd2 Ra1+ 52.Ke2 Kc7 53.Bd5 Bf4 54.Rc2 Ra3 55.Rb2 Be5 56.Rd2 Rg3 57.Kd1 f4 0-1

It wasn’t until Fischer played in the World Championship that he met his equal, at least in this variation.


GM Spassky-GM Fischer
World Ch. Game #11
Reykjavik, 1972
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Nb3 Qa3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Be2 h5 12.O-O Nc6 13.Kh1 Bd7 14.Nb1 Qb4 15.Qe3 d5 16.exd5 Ne7 17.c4 Nf5 18.Qd3 h4 19.Bg4 Nd6 20.N1d2 f5 21.a3 Qb6 22.c5 Qb5 23.Qc3 fxg4 24.a4 h3 25.axb5 hxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Rh3 27.Qf6 Nf5 28.c6 Bc8 29.dxe6 fxe6 30.Rfe1 Be7 31.Rxe6 1-0

To be sure, the response was cooked up by Spassky’s team both before and during the match. It was a quick defeat, and it’s no wonder that Fischer didn’t again in the match. Or ever again.


After winning the World Championship, Fischer disappeared for a couple of decades. During his absence several improvements were found for both sides. But without it’s chief proponent the variation is played by only a few top players.



Black can also offer a poisoned pawn. In  this case the pawn is on g7.


The Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Winawer, offers a richer variation of play than the Najdorf. And it is played often.

The variation is triggered by the moves; 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4. Black has a number of ways to attempt to gain the upper hand.


USSR, 1965
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 f5!? 8.Qg3 Ne7 9.Qxg7 Rg8 10.Qxh7 cxd4 11.Kd1 Bd7 12.Qh5+ Ng6 13.Ne2 Nc6 14.cxd4 O-O-O 15.g3

15…Ncxe5! 16.dxe5 Ba4 17.Ra2 d4 18.Bg5 d3 0-1

White gets even here.


Escalante-NM Adaar
Thematic Tournament – Winawer Variation, Round 2
chess.com, Aug.-Sept. 2018
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 (The usual route to the Winawer. All games in the tournament began with this position.) 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O (Some years ago Van der Tak wrote an article in NIC 8 titled, “Castling Into It?” where he explored Black’s kingside castling possibilities in the Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Winawer, and if it was a viable option for Black. I don’t think the resulting positions favor Black.) 8.Bd3 (Thanks to GM Van der Tak, and his article, I am convinced this is best move for White.) 8…Nbc6 9.Nf3 cxd4?? (This loses the game in a hurry.)
10.Bxh7+! 1-0 [Black resigns due to 10…Kxh7 11.Qh5+ (stronger than the traditional Ng5+ as the potential escape square, g6, is denied to Black) 11…Kg8 12.Ng5 and White mates.]



The term “Poisoned Pawn”, in a more general term, can be defined as a pawn on the b2 or g7 square that is offered to the enemy queen to lure her out of defending her king or deflecting her to an irrelevant area of the board.


The term can be used in the general sense.

GM Bent Larsen-IM Bela Berger
Amsterdam Izt.
Netherlands, 1964
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 d5?! 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.O-O Bg4?! 7.Re1 Be7 (Not 7…f6? because of 8.Nxe5! and Black is in a lot of trouble,) 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Nd4!? 10.Qg4!


11…O-O [Castling into the same area as the enemy queen is already attacking is usually not a good idea (see above). One has to think about self-preservation in addition to attacking factors. But in this case, Black is forced into it. White’s queen breaks in on both the center and kingside after 10…Nxc2 11.Rxe5 Nxa1 (hopeless is 11…Nf6 12.Qxg7 Kd7 13.Qxf7) 12.Qxg7 Rf8 13.Rxd5 Qc8 14.Qxh7 c6 15.Rf5. Even worse is 10…Bf6? The move is not only passive but it also loses a piece after 11.Qxd4. So Black has to risk it.] 11.Rxe5 Nf6 12.Qd1 (White has the extra pawn and better position.) 12…Bd6 13.Re1 Re8 14.Be3 c5 15.Nd2 Bc7 16.Nf3 Qd6 17.Bxd4 cxd4 18.Rxe8+ Rxe8 19.c3 dxc3 20.bxc3 Nh5 21.Qa4 Re7 22.Qxa7 Nf4 23.Qxb7 h5 24.Qc8+ Kh7 25.h4 1-0



Here, each side can offer their poisoned pawns, but don’t as they have nothing to compensate for their lost material. Material and and tempi are the requisites for giving up the pawn.


Ashraf Salimov-Vadim Razin
Ukraine U16 Ch., ½ Finals
Dnipropetrovsk, Nov. 11 2004
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bb5 Qb6 6.Bxc6+ bxc6 7.O-O Ba6 8.Re1 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Bc5 10.Be3 Bxd4 11.Qxd4 Rb8 12.b3 Ne7 13.Qc5 Nf5 14.g4 Nxe3 15.Qxe3 c5 16.Qg5 O-O 17.Nd2 Qb4 18.Nf1 f5 19.exf6 Rxf6 20.h3 Rbf8 21.Qe5 Rxf2 22.Qxe6+ Kh8 23.Qxa6 Qd4 24.Ne3 (24.Qe6 Rxf1+ 25.Kg2 Qf2+) 24…Qf4 25.Nf1 Qf3 (Black has too much pressure on White’s weak point and she has to concede the point.) 0-1

Isolated Pawns

Like most players I was taught to accept isolated pawns with caution. And to avoid doubled isolated pawns. And forget about tripled isolated pawns as they will lose the game for you 100% of the time.


You might have even been shown the game below to illustrate the of evils of accepting tripled isolated pawns.



Adolf Anderssen-Max Lange
Breslau, Germany, 1859
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Nxd4 exd4 5.Bc4 Nf6 6.e5 d5 7.Bb3 Bg4 8.f3 Ne4 9.O-O d3 10.fxg4 Bc5+ 11.Kh1 Ng3+ 12.hxg3

12…Qg5! -+ 13.Rf5 h5 14.gxh5 Qxf5 15.g4 Rxh5+ 16.gxh5 Qe4 17.Qf3 Qh4+ 18.Qh3 Qe1+ 19.Kh2 Bg1+ 0-1


But as I got older, and hopefully wiser, in my learning of the game, it gradually became clear to me that the idea of isolated pawns was not a hard-fast, iron-clad, absolute, rule of the game, solely responsible for a loss.



Let’s take another look at the previous game. White’s development, or rather his lack of it, surely also contributed to his early demise.



I replaced that isolated pawn rule with the idea that a potential weakness is not a weakness if it can’t be attacked.



Our first example is the unforgettable (to put it nicely) Bobby Fischer.


Grossguth-Bobby Fischer
US Jr. Ch.
Franklin Mercantile Chess Club, Philadelphia, July, 1956
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Be3 O-O 9.Qd2 b5 10.f3 Be6 11.g4 d5 12.g5 d4 13.gxf6 Bxf6 14.O-O-O dxe3 15.Qxd8 Rxd8 16.Nc5 Nc6 17.Nxe6 fxe6

18.Rhf1 b4 19.Na4 Nd4 20.Rxd4 Rxd4 21.Bd3 Rad8 22.Kd1 Bg5 23.Ke2 Bf4 24.h3 Rc8 25.Rd1 Rc6 26.b3 Kf7 27.h4 Kf6 28.h5 a5 29.Nb2? (White can’t do too much with his misplaced knight, but he could survive longer by just leaving it in place.) 29…Rxd3! 0-1



Black loses the following game. But he also has other problems. Like being behind in material, development, and position.



GM A. Yermolinsky-IM W. Shipman (2438)
Reno, 1995
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 Qa5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qd2 Bb4 9.Rc1 O-O 10.a3 Bd6?! (10.Bxc3 is better. The bishop has limited movement and will interfere with the coordination of Black’s pieces. Perhaps Shipman wanted to throw a GM off-stride.

Carsten Hoi (2445)-Lars Bo Hansen (2550)
Denmark Team Ch., 1996
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 c6 6.Nf3 Qa5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qd2 Bb4 9.Rc1 O-O 10.a3 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Qxa3 12.e4 N5f6 13.Bd3 e5 14.O-O Re8 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Nh4 Nf8 17.f4 exd4 18.cxd4 Qd6 19.Nf3 Bg4 20.e5 Qd8 21.Kh1 Kh8 22.Qf2 Ng6 23.Nd2 Rg8 24.h3 Bh5 25.Ne4 fxe5 26.fxe5 Nxe5 27.dxe5 Qxd3 28.Nf6 Qe2 29.Qxe2 Bxe2 30.Rf2 Bd3 31.Nxg8 Kxg8 32.Rc3 Bg6 33.g4 a5 34.h4 a4 35.h5 Be4+ 36.Kh2 b5 37.Rf4 Bd5 38.g5 a3 39.g6 hxg6 40.hxg6 0-1

Peter Heine Nielsen (2620)-Curt Hansen (2610)
North Sea Cup
Esbjerg, 2002
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 Qa5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qd2 Bb4 9.Rc1 O-O 10.a3 Bxc3 11.bxc3 h6 12.Bh4 Qxa3 13.e4 Ne7 14.Bd3 Ng6 15.Bg3 b6 16.O-O Bb7 17.e5 Qe7 18.h4 c5 19.h5 Bxf3 20.gxf3 Nh4 21.Qf4 Nf5 22.Bxf5 exf5 23.Qxf5 Qe6 24.Qe4 f5 25.d5 Qe8 26.Qf4 b5 27.c4 Qxh5 28.e6 g5 29.Qd6 Nb6 30.e7 Rfe8 31.Be5 Kh7 32.cxb5 Qxf3 33.Qe6 Qg4+ 34.Bg3 Qh5 35.Qxf5+ Qg6 36.Qxg6+ Kxg6 37.d6 Nd7 38.Rfe1 Kf7 39.Rc3 Rab8 40.Rf3+ Kg7 41.Be5+ Kg6 42.Bc3 Rxb5 43.Re6+ Kh5 44.Rh3+ Kg4 45.Rexh6 Rb3 46.Kg2 c4 47.Rh8 1-0

M. Ragger (2655)-B. Esen (2536)
Moscow, Feb. 10 2012
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 Qa5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qd2 Bb4 9.Rc1 O-O 10.a3 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Qxa3 12.e4 Ne7 13.Bd3 e5 14.O-O f6 15.Be3 Ng6 16.h4 Nh8 17.h5 Nf7 18.Nh4 Nb6 19.f4 Qe7 20.Qf2 Nh6 21.Qg3 exd4 22.cxd4 f5 23.Rc5 Ng4 24.Bc1 fxe4 25.Be2 Qf6 26.Kh1 Nh6 27.f5 Nf7 28.Re5 Nd5 29.h6 e3 30.Bxe3 Nxe3 31.hxg7 Nxf1 32.gxf8=Q+ Kxf8 33.Bxf1 Bd7 34.Bc4 Re8 35.Bxf7 Kxf7 36.Qf4 Kg8 37.Rxe8+ Bxe8 38.Nf3 Kg7 39.Qc7+ Bf7 40.Qxb7 Qxf5 41.Qxa7 Kh6 42.Qe7 Bd5 43.Qe3+ Kg7 44.Qe7+ Kh6 45.Qe3+ Kg7 46.Qe7+ 1/2-1/2)

11.e4 Nxc3 12.Rxc3 e5 13.d5 c5 14.Nh4 Nb6 15.Bf6 Qa4 16.Qg5 Qxe4+ 17.Be2 Qb1+ 18.Bd1 Qg6 19.Nxg6 hxg6 20.Bxe5 f6 21.Bxd6 fxg5 22.Bxf8 Kxf8

23.Rxc5 +- Bf5 24.Bb3 Re8+ 25.Kd2 Re4 26.Re1 Rd4+ 27.Kc1 Be4 28.d6 Bc6 29.Rd1 1-0



Fair enough. Tripled isolated pawns are not necessarily bad ideas.



Now, how do we categorize the following two games??



Gabor Kovacs-Rainer Barth
Balatonbereny Open
Hungary, Sept. 1994
1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 (2…e5 naturally leads to the Vienna Game.) 3.exd5 (One interesting game is Robert Jacobs (2222)-GM Shabalov, World Open, Philadelphia, 1997, which continued with 3.e5 Nfd7 4.e6!? fxe6 5.d4 c5 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.dxc5 Nc6 8.Bg5 g6 9.Nh3 Bg7 10.Nf4 d4 11.Ne4 e5 12.Bxf6 exf6 13.Nd6+ Kf8 14.Ne2 Qa5+ 15.Qd2 Qxc5 16.Nxc8 Rxc8 17.O-O Kf7 18.a3 Rhe8 19.f3 Kg8 20.Ng3 f5 21.Rae1 Nd8 22.Qb4 Qxb4 23.axb4 Nc6 24.c3 dxc3 25.bxc3 e4 26.fxe4 Bxc3 27.Rd1 f4 28.Rxf4 Nxb4 29.Bb5 Be5 30.Rf3 Re7 31.Bd7 Rb8 32.Ba4 Kg7 33.Ne2 b5 34.Bb3 a5 35.Nd4 a4 36.Ne6+ Kh8 37.Bd5 Nxd5 38.exd5 Bd6 39.Rc1 Bb4 40.Rc6 Rd7 0-1) 3…Nxd5 4.Bc4 c6 5.d4 g6 6.Nge2 Be6 7.Bb3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Bxb3 9.axb3 Bg7 10.O-O O-O 11.f4 Na6 12.Ba3 Re8 13.Qd3 Qb6 14.f5 c5 15.fxg6 fxg6 16.Qc4+ e6 17.dxc5 Qc6 18.Rad1 b5 19.Nd4 Qxg2+ 20.Kxg2 bxc4 21.Nb5 Reb8 22.bxc4

22…Rc8 23.Nd6 Rc6 24.Ne4 Rac8 25.Rd7 R6c7 26.Rd6 Rc6 27.Rfd1 Bf8 28.Rxc6 Rxc6 29.Rd8 Kf7 30.Rd7+ Be7 31.Rxa7 h6 32.Bc1 g5 33.h4 gxh4 34.Bf4 e5 35.Bxe5 Re6 36.Nd6+ Kg6 37.Bd4 Nb8 38.Ra8 Nc6 39.Rg8+ Kh5 40.Nf5 Rg6+ 41.Rxg6 Kxg6 42.Nxe7+ Nxe7 43.Kh3 Nc6 44.Kxh4 1/2-1/2



Thomas Lochte (2225)-Stefan Gross (2330)
Budapest, 1996
1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 d6 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.Nf3 e6 7.O-O Bd7 8.Bf4 Qb8 (Jakub Breck-Jiri Zajic, Czechoslovakia U26 Ch., Prague, 1968 continued with 8…Nf6 9.Bxd6 Bxd6 10.Qxd6 Qe7 11.Qg3 O-O 12.e5 Ne8 13.Ne4 f5 14.exf6 Nxf6 15.Rfe1 Na5 16.Bd3 Nh5 17.Qg5 Qxg5 18.Nexg5 h6 19.Nxe6 Bxe6 20.Rxe6 Nf4 21.Rd6 Nxd3 22.Rxd3 Rac8 23.b4 Nc6 24.a3 Rfd8 25.Rxd8+ Nxd8 26.Rd1 Ne6 27.Ne1 Rc3 28.Rd3 Rc1 29.Kf1 Nf4 30.Rd8+ Kf7 31.g3 Ke7 32.Rd2 Ne6 33.Ke2 b6 34.Nc2 Ng5 35.Nd4 Ra1 36.Rd3 Rc1 37.h4 Nf7 38.Kd2 Rc4 39.Re3+ Kf8 40.Kd3 Rc1 41.Ne6+ Kg8 42.Nf4 Nd6 43.Re7 a5 44.Nh5 Nf5 45.Rb7 Ra1 46.Rxb6 Rxa3+ 47.Ke4 Ne7 48.Rb7 Kf8 49.bxa5 Ra4+ 50.Kf3 Rxa5 51.Nxg7 Re5 52.Kf4 Re2 53.Nh5 Rxf2+ 54.Kg4 Rf7 55.Rb8+ 1-0) 9.Nb5 Ne5 10.Nxe5 dxe5 11.Bg3 Nf6 12.Qe2 a6 13.Nd4 Bd6 14.Rad1 Bc7 15.Nf3 Bc6 16.Bh4 h6 17.Bxf6 gxf6 18.Nh4 h5 19.Qf3 Bd8 20.Qg3 Qc7 21.Qg7 Rf8 22.f4 exf4 23.Rfe1 Qe5 24.Bd5 Qg5 25.Bxc6+ bxc6 26.Nf5 Bb6+ 27.Kh1 exf5