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.


Author: NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Nigel has written a number of chess books that are available at Amazon: