Alexander Kotov's Five Pawn Centers:
Part of the Chess Strategies Guide (Section 2: Studying the Pawns)
This article takes a look at a study by Alexander Kotov, which focused on five main types of Pawn Positions in the Center.
Kotov's 5 Pawn Centers include the:
Applying this knowledge should help you develop your game plan and "determine the character and tempo" of the battle.
So, how did all this come about?
In his book "The Art of the Middle Game", which he co-authored with Paul Keres, Alexander Kotov expands on the comparison between Chess and War, highlighting how both contain similar rules for strategy and tactics. Concerns shared include a need to efficiently:
The shape of your army, the position of the troops, their location on the battlefield, is of great importance in planning your strategy. Kotov's exact words are: "The nature of the topography plays a very important role in all army campaigns."
For example, if the Center of the chessboard (the battlefield area) is Open, Kotov suggests "deep, encircling maneuvers, or powerful, storming attacks". But, if the enemy makes this difficult to pull off (i.e. their long-range Pieces are guarding key squares across the Center), then you should switch plans to deep raids on the Flanks.
Kotov states that games of chess are determined by 'topography' (positioning) of the Center Pawns of both armies - primarily the King Pawns (e-Pawns) and Queen Pawns (d-Pawns, though it can also include the Bishop Pawns (c- & f-Pawns), which occupy squares of the Expanded Center, once they've been advanced.
How these two sets of adverse Pawns are positioned will determine "the nature of the struggle and the tempo of the attacker's offensive", as Kotov says. For example:
Kotov's study uncovered five main types of Pawn Positions in the Center, which became useful in helping a player develop their game plan and "determine the character and tempo" of the battle.
Kotov states that "a player must choose some kind of plan of play entirely in accordance with the type of pawn centre".
Your game plan will help determine the following procedures:
These procedures must work in conjunction with certain "special conditions" that Kotov says are valid for the middlegame, and this brings us to Kotov's study highlighting the five main formations of the Center Pawns.
From this guide about Alexander Kotov's Five Pawn Centers,
Return to the Chess Strategies Guide,
Studying the Pawns (Center Pawns)