Pawn chain12 Apr 2015
Pawn chain is a structure of pawns where one pawn support the other, other pawn support another and so on.
A pawn structure can be advantageous if it protects your pieces and helps you launch an attack directed towards the pawn chain.
It can also be disadvantageous if the pawn chain blocks your own pieces giving them no activity.
Good Pawn Chain
A pawn chain is good if it is pointing towards your opponents King.
This is not necessarily good but this kind of structure helps to attack opponents King very easily.
In the above screenshot Black has a nice pawn chain which supports the attack towards the enemy King. Black can easily launch an attack.
Bad Pawn Chain
A bad pawn chain is when it is ponting away from the oppenents King.
This pawn structure is bad because most of the pieces are blocked by either opponent’s pawns or your own pawns. In the below diagram red-arrows depict the same. Queen and Bishops are blocked by the pawn chain.
Breaking a Pawn Chain
If you observe any pawn chain, the top most pawn is the most powerful pawn and the bottom pawn is the weekest. If you have a pawn chain, it is a good idea to support the bottom most pawn with a piece.
If your opponent has a pawn chain which seems to be troubling you, then it is better to attack the bottom most pawn of the chain.
If that doesn’t work, then you can always break the chain in the middle with the help of your own pawns.
In the above screenshot, White is trying to break the Blacks strong pawn chain by pushing the pawn on c2 to c4. Now Black has two choices, either to capture the pawn or not capture it. Either way the chain will be broken.
This position occurs after White capturing the pawn on d5. Now the Black’s pawn chain is broken.
A little deep inspection
A strong pawn chain is a hard to break than a weak pawn chain. So what is strong pawn chain?
Consider the position below. The Rook was attacking the base of the pawn chain b2. But we can push the b2 pawn to b3 since there is a pawn on a2 to support.
This way we can save the pawn chain even if the base is not protected by any piece. This provision makes the pawn chain strong!
But consider this position where there is no option to save the pawn other than pushing it twice. But that weakens the b3 pawn which can be attacked and captured.
A pawn chain can be good or bad depending on where it is poiniting to and how strong its base is. I usually make my students play a lot of pawn games. A Pawn Game is a game where both the sides will have nothing but King and pawns.