Back to Back Issues Page
LCB, Issue #024 --, Pawn Storm the King in the Middlegame
May 01, 2013

Attack the King in the Middlegame with Pawn Storms

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #024 -- Pawn Storm the King in the Middlegame

learn and play online chess
Last month we began on a new departure in our chess development. We started the discussion on the chess middlegame. We are now considering the secrets of this, the most intriguing stage of chess. We began with the most fundamental task confronting every chess player as he moves from the safe, secure opening into the dangerous waters of the middlegame. How to plan in chess, how to devise and execute a successful strategy.

This month we look at some of these plans in progress. We're going to concentrate on very specific types of middlegames here. Most middlegames are preparations for hopefully advantageous endgames. There is a small sub-section that involve direct attacks on the King. These games often don't have endgames at all as the game ends violently in the middlegame.

The 'Direct Attack on the King' middlegames can be further divided down into an even smaller sub-section which we are going to consider now. These involve Castling on Opposite Wings and Pawn Storms. They are short, deadly, exciting games that demand precise calculations from both players.

Castles on Opposite Wings

The Pawn Storm

Alexander Kotov mentions the old William Steinitz quote: 'The player who has the advantage must willy-nilly go over to the attack' as he begins his thesis on attacking the King in the Middlegame.

There are three types of Kingside Attack games:
a) Castling on Opposite Wings
b) Castling on the Same Wing
c) Attack on the Uncastled King
We will focus this month on the first category. Games with players castling on opposite wings are fast and furious as the two players race to a very quick checkmate. A number of factors will determine who will win that race.

Position of the Attacking Pawns

The two sides set their pawns off in a headlong rush down opposite sides of the board. Both players want to get the edge in the race to the enemy King. The arrangement of the pawns can affect the game in many interesting ways.

Maybe you've got a set of 'healthy pawns'. This is a perfect chain of four pawns still in their starting files as the zoom up the board toward the target. Sometimes you will have doubled pawns or isolated pawns.

You may think that the healthy pawns would be the best bet for breaking down your opponent's defenses. And in some cases they may well be. But they are not necessarily any better. It depends on the position. See how isolated or broken pawns can sometimes be better than perfect chains. Alexander Kotov describes the intricacies of these three pawn storm thrillers.

Position of the Opponent's Pawns

The layout of the enemy pawns is also of paramount importance. If the opposing pawns are unfortunately placed and cannot withstand the attack of your pawn storm, you've got a great game.

One of the other guy's pawns could be advanced beyond the protection of it's comrades. Or he may have a backward pawn. He may have doubled or isolated pawns that you can take advantage of.

On the other hand, if he has anticipated your play, his pawns may be set up to weather the storm. If his defensive lines are watertight, your's better be in good shape too on the other wing.

Enemy Pieces in Front of Your Pawn Storm

You're wondering during the opening whether to castle long and get into a mutual pawn storm. One thing worth considering would be where he has developed his pieces.

When both players send their pawns hurtling forward at the enemy King it becomes a race to checkmate. Stealing tempi is crucial to get your attack out in front of your opponent's attack.When you advance your pawn and attack an enemy piece, that piece must be moved to evade capture. The enemy pawns must stand still and your pawns get a free move.

As your plan reaches it's conclusion before your opponent's plan he is then forced to postpone his pawn storm and move his pieces to passive, defensive positions in order to contain your assault. You now have a big advantage in time and space. This should be decisive. Kotov gives two examples of this theme from master level.

Formation of Pieces Enabling Pawn Storms

Your pawns will be used to open up the defensive shell in front of the enemy King. The pieces will be the ones to deliver the death blow. It is rare that you will be able to mate with just the pawns themselves.

That's why one of the more crucial factors when staging a pawn storm is the positioning of your pieces. Your pawns start ripping into the stronghold around your opponent's King. Now your pieces will need to be ready to finish him off.

Kotov talks about the importance of pieces taking up the right positions behind a moving phalanx of aggressive pawns. He gives an example of pieces following up a pawn storm to deliver checkmate.

If you do not have html based email software and you're using a text only system, you may find that the links are only partially highlighted and may not work. If this is the case, simply copy and paste the entire link into the browser and hit Enter. That should get you where you want to go.
Comments, ideas, feedback? I'd be stoked to hear from you.

Get in touch

See you next month.


Back to Back Issues Page