Activity Can Trump Structure

Some time ago GM Alexander Baburin wrote an interesting book entitled ‘Winning Pawn Structures. Taking an in-depth look at typical positions in which White has an isolated d-pawn Baburin went into great depth about the pros and cons of this structure and the plans for both sides.

Structure is undoubtably a very important factor in chess and Philidor’s comment that ‘pawns are the soul of chess’ is as true today as it ever was. Yet it is also important to remember that structure and positional chess are not the be all and end all. Checkmate ends the game!

I must confess a slight bias towards piece activity and combination as opposed to structure and dry positional play. Thus my game against Baburin took on certain elements of an idealogical battle as I happily allowed every one of my pawns to be weakened and sacrificed the d-pawn to boot! My primary goal was to bring my pieces within range of Black’s king.

Even in the post mortem we held quite differing views on the assessment of the position that arose after my 21st move and in fact my opponent found a better way to play. But by this stage he was in serious time-trouble and failed to find the best defence.