Feb 12, 2014

What are Different Pawn Structures?

We can divide Pawn Structures into following 5 types to facilitate our discussion:

  1. Closed Centre: White’s and Black’s pawns from an interlocked chain in the centre. With pawns in the centre wedged against each other, it is on the flanks that breakthroughs are usually made. Often the players take one flank each and then try to be first to break through. However, the rule “An attack on the flank is best answered by a counterattack in the centre” can be relevant even with a closed centre, as it may be possible to disintegrate the centre by sacrificing a piece.
  2. Open Centre: There are no pawns in the centre. When the centre lacks pawns the position of the pieces grow in importance. Active piece play is the key to success. A common plan is to coordinate your troops to create weaknesses in the pawn structure on either flank. The rooks usually play an important role as they have good prospects on the open files, striving towards the seventh rank.
  3. Fixed Centre: Two opposing pawns are nailed to each other. When a fixed structure in the centre there are various types of plans, but often it is important to get a grip on the centre and to reinforce it with pieces. After that, the attacker tries to create weaknesses in his opponent’s position, infiltrating with his pieces or starting an attack on the flank.
  4. Mobile Centre: One of the players has two or more pawns that are capable of advancing in the centre. The side that has a mobile centre often wants to advance the pawns to create a passed pawn. However, if the opponent prevents this, an attack on the king might become possible, as the opponent’s troops are focused on controlling the centre. The side that plays against a mobile centre wants to control and blockade the pawns, and later to undermine them and destroy the centre.
  5. Fluid Centre: The structure of the centre is not yet decided. Both players must strive for the centre.

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