Half-open File:
Part of the Advanced Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 1) and the
Chess Strategies Guide (Section 3: Studying the Pieces)

Half-open File
Point Count Chess: [+]


Point Count Chess, Examples
Half-open File

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 150 - Page 213-214 PCC, Half-open File, Example #1
Queen Bishop File in Queen's
Gambit, (1 of 2)

(p213-214) Diagram NO.150
Najdorf v. Pilnik, 1955
Queen Bishop File in Queen's Gambit, (1 of 2)

This example shows a Rook attacking an enemy Pawn, as it occupies the Half-open File (c-file).

It appears that this is being used as a kind of "bridging" strategy, so that White can achieve subsequent advantages, further up the board (in Black's territory).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 151 - Page 215 PCC, Half-open File, Example #1
Queen Bishop File in Queen's
Gambit, (2 of 2)

(p215) Diagram NO.151
Capablanca v. O. Bernstein, 1914
Queen Bishop File in Queen's Gambit, (2 of 2)

A second example showing a Rook attacking an enemy Pawn, as it occupies the Half-open File (c-file).

Once again, White attacks Black's c-Pawn, with his Rook, from the Half-open File. This created a Pin that enables White to gain subsequent advantages, as well as expanding his army into Black's territory.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 152 - Page 215-218 PCC, Half-open File, Example #2
The Minority Attack, (1 of 2)

(p215-218) Diagram NO.152
Flohr v. Euwe, 1932
The Minority Attack,
(1 of 2)


The creation of the Half-open c-file often leads to White having a Pawn Minority (3 Pawns vs. 4 Black Pawns, in this case).

Supported by the Queen Rook, this Pawn Minority is advanced toward Black's Pawn Majority.

Both Minority Pawns will be sacrificed, but the payoff will be to give Black a choice of Pawn weaknesses (Isolated Pawns, or a Backward Pawn). White will then set about capturing those weak enemy Pawns.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 153 - Page 218 PCC, Half-open File, Example #2
The Minority Attack, (2 of 2)

(p218) Diagram NO.153
Bogoljubov v. Capablanca, 1924
The Minority Attack,
(2 of 2)


In this example, Black gains the Half-open c-file, and the Queenside Minority, before successfully completing his Minority Attack, which was actually spearheaded by his Queen, instead of the Pawns.

Analysis includes a look at the key differences between White's Minority Attack (No.152) and a comparison of the differing uses of their respective Queen Rooks, in the Minority Attack.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A to 154E - Page 219-222 PCC, Half-open File, Example #3
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing

(p219-222) Diagram NO.154A to NO.154E
D. Byrne v. Benko, 1958
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing

There are occasions when having the Majority Pawn Wing, is an advantage (because of the potential Passed Pawn.)

This example highlights the sort of situation when having a Majority Pawn Wing is a liability, which H&M-S suggest is when the opposing side has a greater accumulation of advantages that combine to be more effective in keeping the Pawn Majority shackled.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 155 - Page 223 PCC, Half-open File, Example #4
Half-Open Files in the Sicilian

(p223) Diagram NO.155
Aronin v. Boleslavsky, 1952
Half-Open Files in the Sicilian

The Sicilian Defence typically leads to two Half-open Files (White's d-file; Black's c-file).

In this example, Black instigates the creation of the two Half-open Files, but in the process creates a weakness in his Queenside Pawn structure. This gives White a Qualitative Pawn Majority, which he uses to push for victory.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram xa to xc - Page 224 PCC, Half-open File, Example #5
Queen File in the Ruy Lopez, (1 of 3)

(p224) Diagram NO.156
Example Sequence
Queen File in the
Ruy Lopez, (1 of 3)


This example sees White initially gain the Half-open e-file, but then he decides to swap it to gain the Half-open d-file, giving Black the Half-open e-file.

White's c-Pawn assists in White gaining the Bishop-pair advantage.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram xa to xc - Page 224 PCC, Half-open File, Example #5
Queen File in the Ruy Lopez, (2 of 3)

(p224) Diagram NO.157
Example Sequence
Queen File in the
Ruy Lopez, (2 of 3)


Like No.156, this example (No.157) features a swap of Half-open files, by White -- who initially gets the Half-open e-file, but then swaps it with Black, to gain the Half-open d-file.

Like No.156, White also gains an Advanced e-Pawn, and applies a Pin against Black's d5-Pawn, albeit with the King Rook, this time; instead of the Queen.

This time, White's c-Pawn assists in White forcing Black to take on a weak Queenside Pawn structure (Isolated a-Pawn).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram xa to xc - Page 225 PCC, Half-open File, Example #5
Queen File in the Ruy Lopez, (3 of 3)

(p225) Diagram NO.158
Lombardy v. Horowitz, 1956
Queen File in the
Ruy Lopez, (3 of 3)


In a variation from No.156 & No.157, Black doesn't wait for the swap, and plays to give White the Half-open d-file, while claiming the Half-open e-file, for himself. This leaves White to walk his e-Pawn up into its Advanced position (e5).

Having gained the Half-open d-file, White objective is also different. Instead of gaining a Piece (No.156) creating a weakness in Black's Pawn structure (No.157), White works to fully Open the d-file, and then gain Control of it, with his Queen Rook.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 159a to 159b - Page 226-227 PCC, Half-open File, Example #6
Half-Open King Rook File

(p226-227) Diagram NO.159A to NO.159B
Bergsma v. Fischer, 1955
Half-Open King Rook File

In this example, in the process of gaining the Half-open h-file, White also gives him Doubled Pawns (g-file).

However, this Doubled Pawn formation is actually turned into an advantage; White uses it as a "battering ram," which will ultimately lead to the Opening of the h-file, which White will Control, with his Rook, for a game-winning advantage.

Further Reading

Point Count Chess (Horowitz & Mott-Smith, 1960)
  • The Half-Open File, (p213)
  • Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, (p219)
  • Half-Open Files in the Sicilian, (p222)
  • Queen File in the Ruy Lopez, (p223)
  • King Bishop File in the King's Gambit, (p213)
  • Half-Open King Rook File, (p226)
  • The Half-Open File SUMMARY, (p227)


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Studying the Pieces (Major Pieces)
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