Pawn Levers

Pawns are natural blockaders of lines so every pawn move opens up some lines while closing Others. The quality of your long-range pieces depends upon the availability of open lines. Besides this pawn levers can be very useful in busting the opponent’s pawn structure or improving one’s own pawn structure. Therefore every pawn move and lever must be taken into account very seriously, even if it looks impossible to play them.

Here is an instructive example:

Spasskay against Avtonomov in 1949
White to play and win.

Black’s last move was 11…Nb4. His idea was to create a strong blockade on d5, and at first sight it looks as if no harm can befall him. But Black is in fact already lost here. Find the winning continuation for White!

11. d5!!

A pawn lever looks impossible at first sight. What is the point behind this sacrifice?

11…Nbxd5 12. Bg5!

This is the point and the only winning continuation. Not only does this allow the opening up of lines against the king, but it also breaks up Black’s pawn structure by force.

12…Be7 13. Bxf6! gxf6

Forced.

13…Bxf6 loses a piece because of pin along the e file whilst 13…Nxf6 loses the queen.

14. Nd4! Kf8??

A blunder under pressure. 14…Qd7 can prolong the fight but can’t change the result. Castling was not possible due to Nc6.

15. Nf5

Threatening Rxd5.

15…h5

16. Rxd5! Qxd5

Accepting defeat.

17. Qxe7+ Kg8 18. Qxf6

Winning the queen by force. So Black resigned.

Ashvin Chauhan