Playing chess is about knowing the right plan in a given situation. Medium and long term plans depend on the distribution of the pieces and the situation
of the king, but obviously also very much on the pawn structure.

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This static element defines the surface of the board and thus how the playing field for the pieces is constituted. From all this you can deduct that knowing the typical pawn structures of your favorite openings is of paramount importance for your success. Some structures even arise from many various starting sequences and are common property of completely different openings. They can be considered as the key structures of chess.

[Event “Cienfuegos”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “1996.??.??”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Wahls”]
[Black “Gonzales,R”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B32”]
[WhiteElo “2555”]
[BlackElo “2560”]
[Annotator “Wahls”]
[PlyCount “77”]
[EventDate “1996.??.??”]
[SourceDate “2002.05.06”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e5 5. Nb5
d6 {[#] The Kalashnikov Variation. Beside the move I chose in the game White
has now a rich selection of alternatives, such as 6.c4, 6.Be3, 6.Bc4, 6.a4 and
6.Be3.} 6. N1c3 {Obviously, I didn’t mind Black to transpose to the
Shveshnikov with 6..Nf6.} a6 7. Na3 b5 8. Nd5 Nce7 {[#] Black stays on
Kalashnikov territory. Instead, 8..Nf6 would have led to the Shveshnikov.} 9. c4 Nxd5
10. cxd5 $6 {[#] Since the pawn structure is now defined, it is time to take
stock. First of all, let me mention that this structure is also very common in
the Tschigorin Variation of the Closed Spanish. It further occurs in the King’s
Indian, Old Indian and the Bogoindian Defence. With all due right, we can talk
about a key structure, which I mentioned at the beginning. Knowing about
these key structures has the economic implication that you only have to do the
work once, but can enjoy multiple benefits. The most obvious quality of this
structure is White’s space advantage on the queenside, caused by the vanguard
pawn on d5. The square c6 is a potential outpost for White’s pieces and Black’s
d-pawn is weak. Both are White’s natural targets. An inexperienced player might
be misled by Black’s advanced b-pawn, thinking that this gives Black a good
ground for activities on the queenside. This spacial gain, however, is by far
less important than the cramped position in the centre, which makes it very
difficult for Black’s minor pieces on the kingside to communicate with the
other wing. Consequently, it is the kingside where Black should strive for
activitiy. In a theoretical sense, based on the concrete lines as outlined below, capturing with
the c-pawn is inferior to 10.exd5 here. Nevertheless, the structural principles
are still valid. We will now see how Black ends up in a difficult situation by violating them to some degree.} Rb8 $2 {Black overprotects his b-pawn, in order
to advance with his a-pawn once White has played Nc2. As the game will show,
this plan is dubious. Let’s check the alternatives:} (10… Be7 $1 {Black
wants to exchange his bad bishop.} 11. Nc2 {The knight unblocks the a-pawn and
strives for his ideal square c6.} (11. Bd3 Bg5 12. O-O Bxc1 13. Rxc1 Ne7 14.
Qc2 Bd7 15. Qc7 Qxc7 16. Rxc7 Kd8 17. Rfc1 Rc8) 11… Bg5 12. Nb4 Bxc1 13. Rxc1
Ne7 $1 $11 {controlling c6.}) (10… f5 11. exf5 Bxf5 12.
Bd3 {Here, it is White who exchanges his bad bishop, thus hoping for a slight edge.}) 11.
Bd3 Be7 12. Nc2 a5 {[#] Black wants to seal off the queenside (playing b4 on
White’s a4 and vice versa) and also deprives the knight of the transition square b4.}
({After} 12… Bg5 13. Nb4 Bxc1 14. Rxc1 Ne7 15. O-O O-O 16. Qc2 Bb7 17. Qc7 f5
18. f3 {Black will have problems with his passive minor pieces.}) 13. O-O Nf6 (
13… Bg5 $2 14. Bxg5 Qxg5 15. Qe2 Bd7 16. Na3 {when Black loses a pawn, since
he cannot maintain his blockade anymore:} b4 17. Nc4 $18) {Based on the
principles of this structure as described above, White’s plan must be to break
down Black’s blockade in order to exploit his spatial advantage. Hence, my next
moves are geared to this end.} 14. Bd2 $1 {[#] Putting the queenside pawns
under pressure.} (14. b4 a4 15. Na3 Bd7 16. Qe2 Qb6 17. Be3 Qb7 18. Rac1 O-O
$14 {is only slightly better for White, since Black has the queeenside under
control.}) (14. a4 b4 15. Ne3 O-O 16. Nc4 Ba6 17. f3 Nd7 18. Be3 Bxc4 19. Bxc4
Bg5 20. Bf2 f5 21. exf5 Rxf5 22. Bb5 Rf7 23. Qd3 $14) 14… Bd7 {There was
already a direct threat which had to be adressed:} (14… O-O $2 15. Qe1 $1 {
Breaking the blockade.} a4 (15… b4 16. a3 $16) 16. Nb4 Bd7 17. Rc1 Qb6 18.
Nc6 $16) 15. Qe1 Ra8 16. Qe2 Qb6 17. b3 {The square c4 will be conquered soon. There is no need to rush with}
(17. a4 $6 bxa4 18. Na3 $14) 17… O-O 18. a4 Rfb8 (18… b4 19. Ne3 Bc8 20.
Rac1 Qd8 21. f3 Nd7 (21… Nh5 22. Bb5 $16) 22. Bb5 Nc5 23. Rxc5 $1 dxc5 24.
Nc4 $16 {[%csl Ya5,Yc5,Ye5] [#] Black’s weaknesses weigh much heavier than his
material advantage.} Qc7 (24… Bd6 25. Be3 Bb7 26. Rc1 Rc8 27. Qc2 h6 28. Nxd6
Qxd6 29. Bxc5 $16) 25. f4 Bd6 26. f5 f6 27. Qh5 {It is difficult to parry the
attack and take care of the weaknesses on c5 and a5 at the same time.} Rd8 (
27… Ba6 28. Bxa6 Rxa6 29. Rf3 Rf7 30. Rg3 Qe7 31. Be3 Qc7 32. Rh3 h6 33. Qg6
Kf8 34. g4 Qe7 35. Kg2 Qd8 36. Rh5 Qe8 37. g5 $16) 28. Rf3 Qf7 29. Qh4 Kh8 30.
Be3 Ba6 31. Rh3 Qg8 32. Bxa6 Rxa6 33. Qh5 Rda8 34. g4 Bf8 35. g5 R8a7 36. g6 h6
37. Kg2 Rc7 38. Qh4 Rd7 39. Bd2 {Zugzwang}Rc7 (39… Rd8
40. Nxe5) (39… Raa7 40. Bxh6) 40. d6 Rd7 41. Bxh6 gxh6 42. Qxf6+ Qg7 43.
Rxh6+ Kg8 44. Qe6+ $18) 19. Na3 $1 {[#]} bxa4 {If Black closes the queenside,
White will strike in the centre:} (19… b4 20. Nc4 Qd8 21. f4 $1 exf4 22. Bxf4
Bg4 23. Qf2 Bh5 24. Qg3 $16) 20. bxa4 Bg4 (20… Bxa4 $2 21. Nc4 Qb5 22. Rfb1
Qe8 23. Nb6 $18) 21. Qe3 Qxe3 22. Bxe3 {[#] Now all White’s piece can take
part in the battle of the queenside, while Black’s minor pieces have
difficulties to participate. In the long run, Black’s will have problems
defending his weak pawns on a5 and d6.} Rb3 (22… Bd7 23. Bb5 $1 Bxb5 24. Nxb5
Nxe4 25. Nc7 Nc3 26. Nxa8 Rxa8 27. Bd2 $16 Nxd5 $2 28. Rfb1 Bd8 29. Rb5 Ne7 30.
Rab1 Nc6 31. Rb7 Kf8 32. Rd7 Be7 33. Rbb7 Re8 34. g3 h6 (34… f5 35. Bg5 $18)
35. Kg2 f5 36. Bc1 $18 {[%cal Gc1a3]}) (22… Rb4 23. f3 Bd7 24. Nc4 $16) 23.
Bc4 Rb2 $2 (23… Rb4 $6 24. f3 Bd7 25. Bb5 $16) (23… Rxe3 $1 {This
defensive exchange sacrifice is Black’s best chance, but White obviously stays
on top:} 24. fxe3 Nxe4 25. Bb5 {[%cal Gb5c6,Ga3c4]}) (23… Rc3 $6 24. Bd2 Nxe4
25. Bxc3 Nxc3 26. Nb1 $1 Rc8 (26… Ne2+ 27. Bxe2 Bxe2 28. Rc1 Bd3 29. Rc6 g6
30. Nc3 Rb8 31. Nb5 Bxb5 $2 32. Rb1 $18) 27. Nxc3 Rxc4 28. Nd1 Bxd1 29. Rfxd1
f5 30. Rdc1 Rd4 31. Rab1 h5 32. g3 Rxa4 33. Rb7 Bf6 34. Rb6 $16) 24. f3 $6 (24.
Bb5) 24… Bd7 25. Bb5 Rc8 $2 (25… Bxb5 26. Nxb5 Ne8 $16 {[%csl Ya5,Yc6,Yd6]}
) 26. Bxd7 $2 {I could have picked up a pawn:} (26. Rfc1 Rxc1+ 27. Bxc1 Rb3 28.
Bd2 Bd8 (28… Bxb5 29. Nxb5 $18) 29. Nc4 Bxb5 30. axb5 Rxb5 31. Nxd6 Rb8 32.
Bxa5 $18) 26… Nxd7 27. Rfc1 Rxc1+ 28. Rxc1 Ra2 $2 (28… Rb3 $6 29. Rc8+ Bf8
(29… Nf8 30. Nc4 Rb4 31. Nxa5 Rxa4 32. Nc6 Bf6 33. Bb6 g5 34. Bc7 $18) 30.
Nc4 f5 31. exf5 Nf6 32. Bd2 Nxd5 33. Nxd6 Rb1+ 34. Kf2 Rb2 35. Ke1 Ra2 36. Rd8
Rxa4 37. Ne4 Rd4 38. Rb8 Nb4 39. Bc3 Rd7 40. Ra8 Nc6 41. Kf2 Rf7 42. g4 Ra7 43.
Rxa7 Nxa7 44. Bxa5 $18) (28… Bf8 29. Rc7 Rb3 30. Nc4 Rc3 31. Kf2 f5 32. Ke2
Nf6 33. Bd2 Rb3 34. exf5 Nxd5 35. Ra7 Nc3+ 36. Bxc3 Rxc3 37. Ne3 $16) 29. Nb5
$18 {[#] Black simply has too many weaknesses: his back rank, his minor pieces
and his d-pawn.} Bf8 (29… Rxa4 $4 30. Rc7 $18) 30. Rc7 Nf6 (30… Nc5 31.
Bxc5 dxc5 32. d6 Rd2 33. d7 c4 34. Nc3 {[%cal Rc3d5]} Rd6 35. Kf1 f6 36. Nd5
$18) 31. Rc4 (31. Rc8 Rxa4 32. Nxd6 Ra1+ 33. Kf2 Ra2+ 34. Kg3 g6 (34… a4 35.
Nf5 $18 {[%cal Rf5e7]}) 35. Bh6 Nd7 36. Bxf8 Nxf8 37. Rc7 f5 38. Ne8 Kh8 39.
Nf6 a4 40. d6 Rd2 41. d7 a3 42. Rc8 $18) 31… Nd7 (31… g6 32. Rc8 Kg7 33.
Bh6+ Kxh6 34. Rxf8 Kg7 35. Ra8 Nh5 36. Nxd6 Rxa4 (36… Nf4 37. g3 Ne2+ 38. Kf1
Nd4 39. Ra7 $18) 37. Ra7 $18) 32. g4 $1 {[#] With the exeption of the rook,
Black’s pieces are pretty much encaged.} h5 (32… g6 33. Rc7 Nc5 34. Bxc5 dxc5
35. d6 Rd2 36. Kf1 $18) 33. g5 Re2 (33… h4 34. Rc7 Nc5 35. Bxc5 dxc5 36. Rc8
c4 37. d6 Rd2 38. Kf1 h3 39. Ke1 c3 40. Nxc3 Rxd6 41. Nd5 Rd7 42. Rb8 Ra7 43.
Kf2 g6 44. Kg3 $18) 34. Ba7 Rd2 (34… Ra2 35. Rc7 Nc5 36. Bxc5 dxc5 37. d6
Rxa4 38. Rc8 Ra1+ 39. Kf2 Rd1 40. Ke2 $18) 35. Rc8 g6 (35… Ra2 36. Nxd6 Rxa4
37. Rd8 $18) 36. Nxd6 Kg7 37. Ne8+ Kg8 (37… Kh7 38. Rc7 $18) 38. Nf6+ Nxf6
39. gxf6 {[%cal Ra7c5] [#]} 1-0

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