A pawn is called isolated if there are no other pawns of the same colour on adjacent files. As against connected pawns, the isolated pawns are more vulnerable as they can not protect by other pawns
Deep understanding of pawn structures is something that separates masters from amateurs. Therefore in this article series we will explore the most fundamental pawn structures and learn about its properties. If you missed the first three articles related to connected pawns, passed pawns and backward pawns please click bellow links.
This is the fourth article of Introduction to pawn structures article series. In previous three articles, we discussed about connected pawns, passed pawns and backward pawns. Now lets look at next type: isolated pawns. Go through each of the position, and you will be able to identify them in your own games. Get the understanding of which pawn structures are favorable and which aren’t. Lets look at characteristics of isolated pawns and how to handle them in order to get the advantage.
4. Isolated Pawns
A pawn is called isolated if there are no other pawns of the same colour on adjacent files. As against connected pawns, the isolated pawns are more vulnerable as they can not protect by other pawns (for this they are called pawn islands)
In the left diagram above, the pawns can some how support each other when the opponent’s pieces attack them from the front, while in the second diagram they are completely defenseless. This means that they have to be protected by pieces.
Another weakness of the isolated pawn is the square in front of it can be used by the enemy as an excellent base for his light and heavy pieces. Such a square is as a rule a very important strategical point. A piece occupying that square cannot be attacked by opponent’s pawns and therefore stands there rather firmly.
Isolated pawns may occur in the center (eg: Isolated Queens pawn structure) or may be in side of the board. However both types have one thing in common, there weakness becomes more noticeable when the number of pieces on the board is reduced.
However central isolated pawns does not only have drawbacks for the side to which it belongs, but also number of advantages mainly manifest them self in the middle game. Two most important of them are
- A spatial advantage: allows to easily redeploy pieces and create threats on different parts of the board
- One semi-open file in the center. (more will be discussed in future articles)
Isolated pawns on the wings are as a rule weak in both endgame and middle game.
The basic method of play against the isolated pawn are following:
- Simplification of the position by exchanging
- Blocking the isolated pawn
- Putting pressure on the isolated pawn by light and heavy pieces
The two later methods are based on common strategical principle: It should be fixed first (constrain mobility). This can be achieved by concentrating your forces on a critical square. Look at the following diagram:
In this position c5 square is critical. Apart from putting pressure on the isolated c6 pawn, white controls this square not allowing the pawn to move forward.
Lets now look at some examples to get more insight about this type of pawn structure.
Example 01: Simplification to get the endgame advantage of isolated pawns
Example 02: Using the weak square in front of the isolated pawn
Example 03: Getting rid of the isolated pawn through advancing
Example 04: Getting rid of the isolated pawn through force exchanges
Rest of the types will be discussed in upcoming articles. So stay in touched. If you find this article useful, please do comment and share. Thanks for reading.