Central Pawn Control

Here is an interesting position from the game Botvinnik – Kan Leningrad 1939

One of the reasons that I find it interesting is that if you asked me to evaluate this just a few years ago I’d have looked at White’s pawn structure and instantly said Black must be better.

However, while in most endgames White would clearly be losing, there’s a long way to go until the endgame in this position.

In fact, as Botvinnik himself points out in hit notes to this game, the doubled pawns have one serious advantage, which is that White wants to play e4 to absolutely solidify his grip on d5, and when he does he won’t be giving up the d4 square in his own camp as the pawn on c3 nicely guards it.

The grip on d5 means that one natural plan would be to reroute the knight to d5, and in fact Isaac Lipnitsky discusses this in his excellent Soviet classic Questions of Modern Chess Theory.

It is worth noting, however, that just because that can be a plan, it shouldn’t automatically be the plan you use.  I’ll leave it to the reader to purchase a copy of this excellent book for themselves to learn why in this game that plan doesn’t make sense.

In the meantime here is the entire game:

Of course sometimes it does make perfect sense to plant a knight on d5 in these structures.

Here is an example of when that plan works quite nicely.

The moral to the story is that central control can be a wonderful thing to have, but that it’s a multifaceted beast with no canned solution.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *