Double pawns: The #1 masterclass you needed

Double Pawns

Understanding pawn structures has always been one of the main focuses for a chess player, and this time we have the doubled pawns, a structure that many players prefer to avoid and don't know about the incredible benefits that playing with doubled pawns can bring.

That is why this time you will have a master class with basic and advanced concepts of the doubled pawns so you can learn how to play with them and improve your strategy, so we start with the concept of what are the doubled pawns.

What are double pawns?

In chess, double pawns are a pair or more pawns of the same side that are on the same column. It should be noted that the only way pawns can be doubled is through a pawn capture on the same column where there is already an existing pawn.

Examples of double pawns

In chess there can be many doubled pawns, and there are many ways to get to this pawn structure, and that is why here we mention some ways to get to achieve this structure and I explain why:

  • Double pawns on one flank (Nimzo-Indian Defense).
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 {here it is possible to make f3, d3 and a3). In any of these options the player with black pieces can exchange Bxc3.
  • Double pawns in the center (Italian opening).

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. a4 h6 7. h3 d6 8. c3 a6

9. Re1 Ba7 10. Bb3 Be6 11. Bxe6 fxe6 {The doubled pawns allow Black to control the key squares d5 and f5, which in many Italian positions White wants to use to install a knight. On the other hand, the f-file has been opened, so that Black's rooks can penetrate the enemy position, the route Qe8-g6 or Qe8-h5 gets the queen to go on the attack and thereby orchestrate an attack against the enemy castling}.

  • Double double pawns in the center.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. O-O Ne7 6. Nxe5 Qd4 7. Qh5 g6 8. Qg5 Bg7 9. Nd3 f5 10. e5 c5 11. b3 b6 12. bb2 Qg4 13. Qe3 Nd5 14. Qe1 f4 15. f3 Qg5 16. c4 Bf5 17. Nxc5 bxc5 18. cxd5 Bd3 19. Nc3 O-O 20. Ne4 Qf5 21. Nxc5 Bxf1 22. Kxf1 Rad8 23. Qe4 Rfe8 24. d4 Qxe4 25. fxe4 {When the player with black pieces saw the opponent's center, he abandoned the game}. 1-0

When are double pawns good?

Double pawns can be very good, they can even give you an advantage, since a column can be opened for a rook or doubled pawns can cover important squares that do not allow the opponent to attack effectively.

In some cases the supposed weakness of the doubled pawns can be null or of little importance, an expert player should have a diagram or different systems that include doubled pawns or a structure that includes them because they would obtain other advantages in the short or long term.

When are doubled pawns bad?

This structure can be complicated to play for many chess players, however, experts can handle double pawns in a spectacular way, to access a master level it is important to know the game involving pawns.

Double pawns are generally considered a weakness because they cannot be defended as is usually the case. This inability makes it more difficult to advance the pawns and thus generate a passed pawn, which is always important in endgames or the final phase of the game. Therefore, in the case of isolated doubled pawns, these problems are worse.

You should not allow your opponent to double your castling pawns, as this facilitates attacks on your king. This is a concept you should always consider, however, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

What are the openings that are based on taking advantage of the opponent's double pawns?

There are many openings and strategies that rely on the opponent having doubled pawns, which would make it a strategic weakness. Based on this, many players specialize in attacking this weakness in an aggressive manner based on simple but effective plans, which results in positive outcomes and in the long run improves strategic skills.

That said, here are a few openings and defenses that are based on creating, attacking and winning based on the opponent's doubled pawns:

  • French Defense.
  • Tromposky Opening.
  • Nimzo-Indian Defense (Saemisch Variation).
  • Spanish Opening (exchange or steinitz variant).
  • Carokann Defense.
  • Alekhine Defense (Two Knights Variation).

IMPORTANT: The defenses and openings mentioned above, have a specific variant in which one of the sides have doubled pawns, and when this happens the expert player bases his game on this strategic weakness, this happens in specific variants, and there are many occasions where even a player allows himself to double the pawns in exchange for obtaining the bishop pair.

Conclusion on doubled or doubled pawns

Doubled pawns will be a weakness or a strength depending on the diagram you are playing, or the one your opponent is playing, in this type of positions strategy is the best way to defend a position with doubled pawns, therefore, be sure to exchange your doubled pawn as soon as possible or sacrifice it to compromise your opponent's structure.

In the case that you are the one who seeks to attack this weakness of the Doubled pawns, it is important to fix the pawns so that they cannot advance, and create a plan where this weakness is the secondary objective, since in many occasions attacking a pawn generates other weaknesses and, therefore, your opponent will not be able to defend both weak points.

If you want to learn more about doubled pawns, you should know a little more about Mark dvoretsky, and Jesus de la Villa, as both have books related to endgames of this class and are excellent trainers.

Doubled pawns are one of the most important concepts in chess and that is why you must keep in mind what to do with them when you have them or when your opponent has them.

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