GW-KW, Point Count Chess Raw Discussion, File #5:
Part of the Advanced Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 2)

GW-KW, Point Count Chess,
Raw Discussion, May 29th 2011,
What I Needed Ken To Clarify,
[-] Hanging Pawns


May 29th 2011, additions to that discussion about Hanging Pawns ...

(GW, May 29th) Okay, let's sort this Hanging Pawns issue once and for all ...

Here's the definitions of Isolated Pawns & Hanging Pawns, from Yasser Seirawan, then H&M-S:

  • ISOLATED PAWN

    Yasser Seirawan: "A pawn with no like-colored pawns on either adjacent file."

    H&M-S: "One that cannot be guarded by a fellow pawn because the pawns on both adjacent files have disappeared."


  • HANGING PAWNS

    Yasser Seirawan: "A pawn island consisting of two pawns side-by-side on the 4th Rank on half-open files."

    H&M-S: "A phalanx on the 4th Rank, not connected on either side; broadly, any pawn group that is under frontal attack and cannot safely advance."

I mentioned the Isolated Pawn because I had queried whether Black's a-pawn, in the ChessWorld.net YouTube video (timeline 25:38), was a Hanging Pawn, since it was being frontally attacked. However, having compared all definitions just given, I can see it's definitely an Isolated Pawn, nothing more.

Now onto Hanging Pawns ... The confusion comes about with H&M-S's inclusion of the "Hanging Phalanx" in their Point Count Table (PCC, page 8). Interestingly, in their Glossary, they don't even mention/list Hanging Phalanx, just Hanging Pawns.

Looking at the above YouTube video @ timeline 25:38, at the c5 & d5 Pawns, and then re-reading the two definitions of Hanging Pawns (by Seirawan and H&M-S, respectively), the formation seen in the video is a Hanging Pawns situation. There is no Hanging Pawn (singular) situation, as I'd originally thought.

That just leaves the Hanging Phalanx, listed by H&M-S in the Point Count Table ... I see no difference between a "Hanging Phalanx" and "two Pawns in Phalanx formation on the same (4th) Rank".

Wait a minute ... I've got to return to what you said, beneath the video (The Ups and Downs of "Hanging Pawns"), timeline 27:36 ... You say you do see a difference. Here, I've screen-captured the two situations:

May 29th 2011 - Hanging Pawns Query - Ex.1
Ex.1: Hanging Phalanx?
May 29th 2011 - Hanging Pawns Query - Ex.2
Ex.2: Hanging Pawns?

... could it be that H&M-S see the Hanging Phalanx as the two Pawns on the 4th Rank, side-by-side without friendly Pawns on the adjacent files, as in Ex.1. But, they're termed Hanging Pawns when a friendly pawn is connected to them on the 3rd Rank, as with the e6 Pawn, in Ex.2?

Ken's Comments ...

I think you see what I see, and we are on the same page. That is exactly what I noticed.

(GW, May 29th) The decision now would be whether to distinguish the two separate situations or, as seems to be the modern way, just term both situations as Hanging Pawns, whether the two Pawns are isolated together on the 4th Rank, or with one side connected to a Pawn on the 3rd Rank?

Ken's Comments ...

The modern way would be to see (in Ex. 2) that there are 3 Pawn Islands for Black (1. a6; 2. c5,d5,e6; 3. g7,h6) vs. 2 for White (1. a2,b2; 2. e3,f2,g2,h2). Nearly everyone these days knows that if you have fewer Pawn Islands than your opponent, you have an advantage (which here would go to White).

(I can't help but throw in another wrinkle here; well, maybe I could, but I'm not.) Maybe instead of this whole Hanging Pawn / Hanging Phalanx distinction (which you will have to admit, may be hard to get a new person, even one with some considerable experience, to see the distinction we are trying to make), call the pawns in Ex. 1 either Hanging Pawns or Phalanx (I'll leave the choice up to you - Hanging Pawns are more commonly used - like in the video - but Hanging Phalanx is more descriptive of the formation), and call any other formation an Extra Pawn Island (like in Ex. 2).

There would be only one point at issue normally (except in Ex. 2, where the c-pawn is a secondary weakness within the Extra Pawn Island because the Hanging Phalanx portion is under attack and Black is forced to defend it with 3 pieces), and it would be easier to explain, and would fit better with modern theory (and help those who have read other material).


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