The 18th century chess pioneer Philidor famously said, “The Pawns are the soul of chess”. I love my Pawns and admit to a fondness for pushing them, although the balance between aggression and overextension can be tricky.
Recently, I was daydreaming when an imaginary chess game started forming in my mind, in which White started off by playing six Pawn moves in a row. Intrigued, I came up with the best plausible fantasy game I could invent that featured as many Pawn moves in a row by White as possible that were not complete garbage leading to a terrible position. I made it to fifteen moves. I thought it would be fun to share this fantasy game here. Here is a blow-by-blow summary, with the full annotated game following. I’ve provided two narratives: one is move by move but the other is Pawn by Pawn, telling the story from each Pawn’s perspective.
Reminder: this game fragment is for entertainment purposes. Don’t go out and start all your games by playing fifteen Pawn moves in a row!
Move by move
A good opening move, gaining space and controlling the central e5 square as well as the c5 square, and enabling developing of the dark Bishop.
A logical followup to d4, controlling the central square d5.
An aggressive way to prepare to play e4 with a lock on the entire center because of the double control of d5.
Invading Black’s territory, gaining space.
Completing the large center. White has made only Pawn moves but stands better in this Benoni formation.
The standard aggressive recapture. exd5 was also possible.
White should have started developing pieces here, to maintain a clear advantage. The threat to push back Black’s Knight is not dangerous to Black.
Black’s Pawn move …h5 was poor and justified White’s play.
Attacking the Knight as planned.
There was no reason for White to enter defensive mode and doubly protect the g5 Pawn, which was not under threat. White should have begun developing pieces.
A standard defensive move to prevent Black’s …b5 in the Benoni.
White is out of control, continuing to try to attack, now aiming to go to f5 and f6.
I gave Black a dubious move …a5 in order to illustrate what can happen if Pawn advances are not dealt with.
White continues, planning to push back Black’s Bishop with f6.
Black should already start thinking about possibly sacrificing a piece for two Pawns in order to forge further ahead in development as compensation.
I made Black play poorly with …Na6 to give White more Pawn moves. The interesting thing is that even if Black played well at this point, White is not actually lost despite the extravagant play.
Attacking Black’s Bishop on g7. If the Bishop retreats to f8, White has a totally won game already.
And after having won a Knight for two Pawns, White has run out of reasonable Pawn moves. The only Pawn that can move is the b Pawn, but it is obviously not going anywhere.
Miraculously, White has a slight advantage after playing nothing but Pawn moves for fifteen moves in a row. This is not typical, but I hope Philidor would have been amused.
The lives of the eight White Pawns
I advanced to a4 to discourage Black’s b-Pawn from advancing to b5.
I stayed home and did nothing.
I advanced to c4 to control the d5 center square, and I protected my neighboring d-Pawn who advanced to d5.
I advanced to d4 to control the e5 center square, and I advanced to d5 to attack more squares in enemy territory (c6 and e6).
I advanced to e4 to control the d5 center square, and further protect my neighboring d-Pawn when it advanced to d5. I helped my neighboring f-Pawn advance to f5.
I advanced all the way to f5, then with the help of my neighboring g-Pawn, made it to f6, attacking Black’s Bishop on g7 and getting very close to Black’s King.
I advanced all the way to g5 to attack Black’s Knight on f6, then helped my neighboring e-Pawn get to f6.
I provided extra support to my neighboring g-Pawn on g5.
The annotated fantasy game fragment