My first ah ha! moment was realizing Pawns as part of my chess army, are useful for a lot more than canon fodder. In the past, I would simply march my pawns off to their death when I thought I had no real move worth making. May as well push a pawn forward and see what happens I would think.
After watching master and famous chess games on youtube, I realized that pawns are very important in the game of Chess. Pawns in these games were not shoved into battle like some rag-tag group of foot soldiers. Instead I observed pawns are used to maintain control of the front line, and provide anchor positions for Knights and occasionally Bishops. Also pawns are used to push the enemy off certain squares, generally in the center of the board, though at times down at the enemy camp.
When I tried to imitate the moves I had watched, they did not work, yet the games on youtube made it look so simple. Still, I started treating my pawns with more respect, although at first not a lot changed. I managed to stay alive for a few more moves, but the inevitable end came as predicted. I would be checkmated, more of my own pawns or not didn’t seem to matter.
There was a bright side however. With continued watching of youtube chess games, observing live games as I could, reading and trying to understand what purpose there was to the pawn placement, my chess abilities started to change.
Instead of losing at fifteen to twenty moves, I would be alive to see the twenty-second move. Instead of watching Genghis Khan rolling across the wasteland to wipe out my army, I managed to slow the thundering herd, and reduce the speed of my casualty rate.
I knew I was on to something. Then I played a game against and opponent who was the “Pawn Master”! No back row was needed in their game. My chess army was decimated mostly by a few pawns, as I watched in horror wondering how it was done! I wasn’t sure how it was done, but that game drove home the power of the lowly Pawn in the hands of a competent player!
After a lot of watching, reading, and thinking, I started to understand the real purpose of pawns. I learned employing pawns wisely can make the difference between losing outright, having a fighting chance, and maybe even winning.
Pawns can be used as islands in the center of the board. Blocking the enemy, and protecting the center of the board from direct attack. If your pawns are protecting any of the four center squares, it becomes more difficult for your opponent to mount a direct attack. Instead they are forced to attack from one of the ends of the board as the center is blocked.
Pawns are also used in diagonal chains from near the side of the board to the center. You may have seen them in one of your games. The pawn at b2 or g2 is the anchor and the middle pawns are positioned on the same color diagonals towards the center?
Doing this with pawns serves two purposes of which I am aware, perhaps there are more reasons I have yet to learn. These diagonal pawn chains cut off part of the board from your opponent. They also give you more space to move around in safely.
There is a third pawn deployment that I have seen, but it is not as common. The pawns are structured in a w shape or series of w’s across the center of the board. This is a very hard defense to break through. It makes for a very tough game.
Learning about and practicing how to deploy pawns is probably one of the big game changers for me. If I do nothing else well, good pawn structure frustrates and slows down my opponent(s). Slowing my opponent down allows me to watch for mistakes he/she is making in their game. I still get beat, but not as easily I do as with no pawn structure. I hope this post help you in your game.