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Wide-open position

Average position

Open position liÄIlAllA

Closed position

Average position

Blocked Position

Average position

Blocked Position been exchanged, but there is one centre block.

d) A Closed position is one in which there is one centre block, and there have been no pawns exchanged. Here centre block means the d- or e-file.

e) A Blocked position is one in which there are two adjacent centre blocks. This could be the c- & d-files, the d- & e-, or the e- & f-. Usually, the central pawns of one side tend to be on one colour of squares, while the pawns of the other side occupy the other colour. This makes for the so-called good and bad bishop. The bad one is blocked in activity by its own pawns. In such positions, one bishop of a pair may be worth 10% or more than the other.

The value of a piece can change as a function of Pawn Structure. We next discuss the essentials of Pawn Structure. Then beginning with the knight on p.21, we discuss the changing values of pieces. Again, bear in mind that it is not necessary to memorize these values. Rather, learn the general way that the data are sloped in this direction or that to indicate the type of changes in value that take place as a result of changes in pawn structure. Remember, a completely equal exchange of material practically never takes place, and knowing these values will help you to make favourable exchanges, and avoid unfavourable ones. Also, you should be aware that all knowledge of this type was encoded as functions with sloping values that, in effect, said things such as "The value of a bishop increases as the openness of a position increases". We give the values just to give you a baseline for your understanding.

The Pawn

The Value of Pawns

As Philidor said "Pawns are the Soul of Chess", and this cannot be overemphasized. Pawns affect the value of everything, and the whole System philosophy is based upon the idea of getting the good Pawn Structure that will make your position into a winning one.

First, let us look at simple things as shown in the first of the two tables on the following page. An average pawn is worth 1.0 in our scheme of things. However, d- & e-pawns are worth about 1.2, c- & f-pawns are worth about 1.1, b- & g-pawns are worth about 0.95, and h- & a-pawns are worth about 0.9. From this, it is already easy to see the reason for an old dictum "Always capture toward the centre".

These values apply during the opening and middlegame. In the late middlegame and ending, the values actually begin to reverse. As the amount of material on the board

Values of Unpassed Pawns in the Opening

File of Pawn

Rank of Pawn

(a,h)

(b,g)

(c,f)

(d,e)

2

0.90

0.95

1.05

1.10

3

0.90

0.95

1.05

1.15

4

0.90

0.95

1.10

1.20

5

0.97

1.03

1.17

1.28

6

1 06

1.12

1.25

1.40

Values of Unpassed Pawns in the Ending

File of Pawn

(a,h)

(b,g)

(c,f)

(d,e)

Rank of Pawn

2

1.20

1.05

0.95

0.90

3

1.20

1.05

0.95

0.90

4

1.25

1.10

1.00

0.95

5

1.33

1.17

1.07

1.00

6

1.45

1.29

1.16

1.05

diminishes, wing pawns gradually become more valuable than centre pawns (see the second of the two tables above). We have found through computer experimentation that pawns on any file are approximately equal in value when there are about 14 units of material each left on the board. After that, the value of wing pawns begins to increase slightly. The centre pawns have very few opposing pieces left to dominate, and the possibility of creating distant passed pawns begins to play an important role. Every piece exchange brings this moment closer, and should be kept in mind when selecting a move.

Further, a pawn can be part of a phalanx or be on its own. When it is part of a phalanx, we refer to it as connected. A pawn is connected when one of the following conditions is true:

1) It has one of its own pawns directly beside it on one of the adjacent files;

2) It can be protected in one move by the advance of one of its own pawns;

3) It can in one move place itself directly beside one of its own pawns without being lost.

Condition 3 above is a little tricky. If a pawn is behind its neighbours, and cannot immediately join one of them, it is called backward. Backward pawns are meaningful only on an open file, as otherwise they cannot be attacked frontally. A pawn may be behind its neighbour and physically able to join one of its neighbours but only at the cost of being lost. Such a pawn is connected, but backward. Backward pawns lose some of their mobility, and thus some of their value. However, that is about all one needs to know about them. Generally, they are to be avoided as they are almost as weak as isolated pawns.

If a pawn is not connected, it is isolated.

A pawn is passed when it can move forward all the way to the queening row without either:

a) Encountering an opponent's pawn;

b) Becoming exposed to capture by an opponent's pawn.

A pawn increases in value if:

b) It is connected;

c) It is advanced.

It decreases in value if it is:

a) Isolated;

b) Backward;

c) Multipled (Doubled or Tripled).

A pawn gains in value as it advances. Of course, it could be advancing straight into the jaws of death, but that is a tactical matter, and we assume that calculations will be made to assure the well-being of a pawn as it advances. A pawn's value does not increase much until it reaches the 5th rank, and then it increases its base value according to the table below which also shows the gains for being passed, and passed & connected. These multipliers are to be applied to the base value of the pawn. However, as previously said, it is quite sufficient (unless you are a computer) just to understand the approximate change in value for each change of state.

Because pawns like to support each other and advance together, isolated and doubled pawns are to be shunned.

Different Kinds of Doubled Pawns

Doubled (multipled) pawns are a very complicated matter, and I know of no book that treats this subject

Value as a Pawn Advances

Rank of Pawn

Isolated

Connected

Passed

Passed and Connected

4

1.05

1.15

1.30

1.55

5

1.30

1.35

1.55

2.3

6

2.1

-

-

3.5

properly. The detriment caused by a doubled pawn is related to:

a) Its lack of mobility;

b) Its inability to perform its normal duties as a pawn;

c) The likelihood that it can never be exchanged for an opponent's normal pawn.

In the right-hand side of the above diagram is seen the worst kind of doubled pawn. It is almost worthless as the only value the pair has over a single pawn is that extra square(s) are controlled by the multipled pawns. Such a doubleton is worth approximately 0.33 and further such multipled pawns are worth only 0.2.

In the central portion of the diagram is seen a more usual situation in which the doubled pawn has some defensive potential, since the opposing pawns in that sector cannot advance without undoubling the pawns. However, the pawns are isolated and can be easily attacked. They are very weak; here the back doubleton is worth about 0.5.

The left-hand side shows a still more usual situation. Here the doubled pawns are part of a phalanx facing opposing pawns on adjacent files. They may be dissolvable with the aid of pieces. If, for instance, a white light-squared bishop existed it may be possible to play b4, b5 and dissolve the doubleton. Here the doubled b-pawn is worth 0.75. If the black a-pawn were on the c-file, it would not be possible to dissolve the doubled b-pawn, and it would be worth only 0.5.

So the detriment that a multipled pawn causes is a function of how many pawns are encumbered that way and whether any of them can be dissolved. Every undissolvable doubled pawn loses at least 50% of its value. However, one must be very careful in making the assessment of dissolvability. If there is some doubt, a reduction of 30% is more proper.

The d6-pawn is backward

Isolated and backward pawns also lose some of their value, but mainly while they are on the 2nd to 4th ranks. Here, a so-encumbered pawn loses about 15% of its value. However, while isolated pawns can at best hope to control some meaningful territory, a backward and connected pawn frequently poses a real threat to the opponent, as its advance can 'free' the whole position. In the above diagram, if Black can achieve the ...d5 advance his position is immediately freed.

The Use of Pawns w

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