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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/strat-discussion-chasing-minor-pieces-wpawns-16822897.aspx

Subject:  Strat Discussion - Chasing Minor Pieces w/Pawns Date:  3/1/2002  10:21 AM
Author:  psuasskicker Number:  113 of 9208

The mj - JT game brought up an interesting point worth discussing...is having your minor pieces chased by pawns a good thing or a bad thing?

The game itself brings up two examples of it that clearly demonstrate possible advantages and disadvantages to placing your minor pieces into positions where they can be chased around. Let's take a look first at the disadvantage.

1. e4 Nf6; 2. d3 d5; 3. Nc3 e6; 4. exd5 Nxd5; 5. Nxd5 exd5 Note that all that has happened to this point is that black has a bit more space than white in the center after the trades were made.
6. Nf3 Bc5?
JT put the question-mark after his sixth move and I don't necessarily disagree with that move. Mj's actual play was the smart 7.d4 which just chases the bishop off of c5. The discussion previous to that move was that JT felt he had more control over e5 and d4 than mj. Turns out this is not exactly true. I would actually argue that control over e5 is still up in the air, and mj (white) actually controls the d4 square, because with a knight and queen defending a d4 advance, it can easily chase the bishop away.

This actually chases the bishop to a different square. The bishop has three viable options.
1) Retreat to b6 - A move that may pin the bishop badly in the future. A later c3 followed by b4 advance would entomb the bishop until black's c pawn and queen move to allow it back into the game. This would turn black's bishop very bad for some time.
2) Advance to b4+ - Turns the Bc5 move into a wasted move, but puts the king in check and forces white to react. This could potentially lead to an incredibly interesting "bishop vs. knight" game if white's reaction would follow 7. d4 Bc4+; 8. Nd2 Bxd2+; 9. Bxd2.
3) Retreat to d6 - This was the move played. This move is also a waste of time (due to the fact that it could have been played earlier), and allows white an extra move. However, it helps black in his attempt to establish a hold on e5. White's knight can no longer use e5 as a knight's post to either sit there or use it to move Ne5 followed by Nd3 in order to guard both e5 as well as c5, which is precisely what black's bishop is currently doing.

Black and white look to be struggling to control the e5 and c5 squares, but white now has an equal amount of space in the center, and after forcing black to make two moves with a bishop that he only had to move once, he's essentially gained a move.

Next set of moves, a possible advantage?

1. e4 Nf6; 2. d3 d5; 3. Nc3 e6; 4. exd5 Nxd5; 5. Nxd5 exd5; 6. Nf3 Bc5; 7. d4 Bd6; 8. Bg5
Black knows it can chase white's bishop by a simple f6 advance, followed by g5 after the bishop retreats to h4. Basically it would look like so:
8. ... f6; 9. Bh4 g5; 10. Bg3
This could lead to an interesting doubled pawn scenario with 10. ... Bxg3; 11. fxg3 (or hxg3). So this could potentially be disadvantageous for white.

But note black's pawn structure after those moves on the kingside. His kingside pawn structure has been broken up. Yes, black has more space on the kingside. But now a kingside castle (11. ... 0-0) leaves the king much more open to attack than a good pawn structure (pawns on f7, g6, and h7) would leave it. The h pawn would be quite weak, and white may find his best play resulting in castling to the queenside, and attempting to get his pawn off the h file (11. hxg3), double his rooks on the h file, and attack the weak black h pawn. Should black choose to advance his h pawn by h5 followed by h6, he would only weaken his king's protection further.

At that point, black should be playing to break at the weak pawns on f2 and g2 due to the pawn's doubling. With an f4 advance, it strengthens this f pawn but it turns the g3 pawn weak and makes the g2 pawn nothing more than a sitting duck that likely would need constant attention from at least one if not two minor pieces.

Two exceptional imbalances arising from pawn chasing. This could literally be chess at its finest. Two small imbalances, and a total war waged to see who can cash in on the imbalance first!

Note: the 8. Bg5 move may be allowed to be taken back because white, not having a board to follow the game on, thought he (she?) was putting black's king in check, when the bishop was in fact threatening the queen. Black has offered white to be allowed to take the move back since white was confused as to which piece was being attacked.

Thoughts around chasing minor pieces with pawns? Questions? Other scenarios?

Speak up! It's what this board is about!

Chris
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