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Half-open File
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing

Point Count Chess, NO. 154A to NO. 154E, p219-222
D. Byrne v. Benko, 1958

There are occasions when having the Majority Pawn Wing (a Pawn Majority on one of the Flanks -- Queenside or Kingside), is an advantage, which H&M-S say is due to "the potential Passed Pawn."

This example (No.154A to No. 154E), highlights the sort of situation when having a Majority Pawn Wing is a liability.

Beneath the ChessFlash viewer, you'll find my analysis of the five positions featured in Point Count Chess:
  1. PCC, p.219, No. 154A, before 1.Qc1
  2. PCC, p.220, No. 154B, after 5...e6
  3. PCC, p.220, No. 154C, after 11...Rxb5
  4. PCC, p.221, No. 154D, after 18...e5
  5. PCC, p.221, No. 154E, after 27...a5
  6. Result of Black's Frontal Pressure on White's Queenside
    Pawn Wing.
  7. Summary of Black's Frontal Pressure on White's Queenside
    Pawn Wing.
  8. PGN
Additional analysis includes the:

Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing
My Analysis

Position #1, My Analysis
PCC, p.219, No. 154A, before 1.Qc1

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Page 219
Before: 1.Qc1
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, Before 1.Qc1
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
Before 1.Qc1
Before 1.Qc1, White has a Queenside Pawn Majority, which H&M-S say is "an endgame advantage."
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, Before 1.Qc1
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
Before 1.Qc1 (HYPOTHETICAL 1)
HYPOTHETICAL 1: If it were just a battle between Pawns -- that is, imagine all the Pieces had been removed from the board -- White's Queenside Pawn Majority would be clearly revealed as the game-winning advantage.

However ...
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, Before 1.Qc1
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
Before 1.Qc1 (HYPOTHETICAL 2)
HYPOTHETICAL 2: If the Queens and Rooks weren't on the board, H&M-S say that "Black would have an uphill fight to draw."

This in itself reveals Black's strategy (or what Black's strategy should be) -- he must work to prevent White's Queenside Pawns from becoming that endgame advantage.

The following moves show how Black successfully carried out this strategical objective ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, Before 1.Qc1
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
Before 1.Qc1
Before 1.Qc1 note that Black already has two Half-open files (b & c), on which he can place his Rooks, applying frontal pressure against White's Pawns (b2 & c2, respectively).

If Black fails to do this, White may succeed in converting his potential Passed Pawns (b2 & c2) into an actual Passed Pawn (possibly even both, gaining Protected Passed Pawns), which will then be pushed towards Promotion, and the realization of White's game winning advantage.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 1...Ba6 2.Bxa6 Qxa6
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 1...Ba6 2.Bxa6 Qxa6
After 1...Ba6 2.Bxa6 Qxa6, Black provokes an exchange of light-Bishops, with 1...Bc8-a6 -- an attack that threatens to Fork White's Rf1 & Nf3, if he doesn't enter into the trade. Black's Queen completes the trade (2.Qd6xa6).

That exchange was the first of two bouts of Simplification. The second came shortly afterwards ...
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 3.Bh6
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 3.Bh6
After 3.Bh6, This time, it appears that White is provoking the trade.

The reason becomes clear when you look from Black's Bg7, down the h8-a1 diagonal, to White's b2-Pawn.

If Black takes-out that Pawn, it will Isolate both White's a2- and c2-Pawns; totally removing the Pawn Majority that White hoped to convert into a winning endgame.

White has no choice, but to trade dark-Bishops.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 3...Rfc8
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 3...Rfc8
After 3...Rfc8, Black's King Rook moves across to the Half-open c-file (3...Rf8-c8), to apply frontal pressure down the file, against White's c2-Pawn.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 4.Bxg7 Kxg7
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 4.Bxg7 Kxg7
After 4.Bxg7 Kxg7, the adverse dark-Bishops are exchanged, with Black's King completing the trade (4...Kg8xg7).

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Position #2, My Analysis
PCC, p.220, No. 154B, after 5...e6

After: 1.Qc1 Ba6 2.Bxa6 Qxa6 3.Bh6 Rfc8 4.Bxg7 Kxg7 5.Qd1 e6

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154B - Page 220
After: 5...e6
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154B - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 7...Rab8
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 7...Rab8
After 7...Rab8, Black puts his Queen Rook onto the Half-open b-file. As soon as his Queen is removed, Black's Rb8 will be applying frontal pressure down against White's b-Pawn.

Speaking of Black's Queen ...

With the long-range threats from the Bishops removed, Black turns his attention to one last bout of Simplification, by trading Queens off the board ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154B - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 10.Qe2 Qb5 11.Qxb5 Rxb5
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 10.Qe2 Qb5 11.Qxb5 Rxb5
After 10.Qe2 Qb5 11.Qxb5 Rxb5, both Queens have been traded.

Black now has both Rooks applying frontal pressure down their respective Half-open files, against White's Pawns.

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Position #3, My Analysis
PCC, p.220, No. 154C, after 11...Rxb5

After: 6.c3 Qb6 7.Rb1 Rab8 8.h4 h6 9.Nd2 Nf6 10.Qe2 Qb5
11.Qxb5 Rxb5

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154C - Page 220
After: 11...Rxb5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154C - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 12...Ra5 13.a3
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 12...Ra5 13.a3
After 12...Ra5 13.a3, Black coaxes White to form a Reverse Salient with his Queenside Pawns.

The Reverse Salient structure prevents the advance of White's Pawns, due to frontal attack from Black's Rooks. H&M-S say: "no advance under fire is possible."

This will help Black to keep White's Pawn Majority safely in their own territory.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154C - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 13...Rac5
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 13...Rac5
After 13...Rac5, Black forms a Battery on the Half-open c-file ...

The purpose is a to threat to Open the file, after 14...d5-d4, followed by the exchange of Pawns (whether Black captures first, or he lets White's c-Pawn make the capture -- c3xd4).

If Black gains the Open c-file, his Rooks can gain access to the 7th Rank, causing White major problems.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154C - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 16.Re1 Rb8
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 16.Re1 Rb8
After 16.Re1 Rb8, White's King Rook had threatened to counterattack through his Half-open e-file (16.Rc1-e1) ...

So, Black gives it a reason to return to the c-file, by attacking the vulnerable b2-Pawn (16...Rc8-b8), and threatening a b-file Battery (...Rc5-b5), busting through into White's camp, at b2 (...Rb5xb2), soon after.

White's King Rook is back on the c-file, on his very next move (17.Re1-c1)

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The Result of Black's Frontal Pressure
on White's Queenside Pawn Wing...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154 - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 17.Rec1 Rc7
(RESULT) Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 17.Rec1 Rc7
After 17.Rec1 Rc7, the frontal pressure applied by both Black Rooks, on the Queenside, has worked to immobilize White's game winning advantage (his Queenside Pawn Majority).

Black is now able to launch his game winning assault, which includes the active participation of his King, to help shepherd the two Center Pawns toward Promotion ...

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Position #4, My Analysis
PCC, p.221, No. 154D, after 18...e5

After: 12.Rfc1 Ra5 13.a3 Rac5 14.g3 Ne8 15.Kf1 Nd6 16.Re1 Rb8 17.Rec1 Rc7 18.Ke2 e5

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154D - Page 221
After: 18...e5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154D - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 19...Kf6 and 20...Ke6
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 19...Kf6 » 20...Ke6
After 19...Kf6 » 20...Ke6, Black brings his King to the Center, ready to help his two Center Pawns advance down into enemy territory.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154D - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 21.Ke1 f5
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 21.Ke1 f5
After 21.Ke1 f5, White's King is forced to retreat from Black's imminent Center Pawns' advance.

That enables Black to bring his f-Pawn forward (21...f7-f5), ready to support the formation of the Advanced Salient, into White's territory.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154D - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 24.f4 e4
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 24.f4 e4
After 24.f4 e4, the advance of White's f-Pawn (24.f2-f4) does little to prevent the formation of Black's Advanced Salient (d5,e4,f5).

Furthermore, it enables Black to turn his e-Pawn into a Protected Passed Pawn.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154D - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 25...Kd6 and 26...Ne6
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 25...Kd6 » 26...Ne6
After 25...Kd6 » 26...Ne6, Black now gears up to support the push of his d-Pawn ...

At the very least, Black intends to advance his d-Pawn, down onto d3, dissolving his Advanced Salient, but converting it instead into an Advanced Chain, deeply embedded in White's territory.

In addition to that, Black will also create a second Passed Pawn (his d-Pawn will become a second Protected Passed Pawn).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154D - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 27...a5
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 27...a5
After 27...a5, H&M-S say that "Black's plan is to double rooks on the queen bishop file (c-file), after which he will threaten P-Q5 (...d5-d4)."

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Position #5, My Analysis
PCC, p.221, No. 154E, after 27...a5

After: 19.Kf1 Kf6 20.Ke2 Ke6 21.Ke1 f5 22.Kd1 Ne4 23.Ke2 Nc5 24.f4 e4 25.Rc2 Kd6 26.Ke3 Ne6 27.Rbc1 a5

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154E - Page 221
After: 27...a5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154E - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 28...Rbc8
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 28...Rbc8
After 28...Rbc8, Black's Rooks form their Battery on the c-file, applying double the frontal pressure down onto White's weak c2-Pawn ...

White's c2-Pawn isn't Backward, since it's got Pawn protection from White's b2-Pawn; but it's unable to find shelter from Black's Rooks.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154E - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 29...Rc4
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 29...Rc4
After 29...Rc4, Black moves his Rook forward (29...Rc7-c4), so it's in line to capture White's unguarded a4-Pawn.

After that, White chose to capture Black's a5-Pawn (30.Nb3xa5), which H&M-S suggest was merely to avoid losing his own a-Pawn, for no gain of his own.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154E - Half-open File, Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing, After 30...d4+ and 32...d3
Half-open File,
Frontal Pressure on a Pawn Wing,
After 30...d4+ » 32...d3
After 30...d4+ » 32...d3, Black marches his d-Pawn beyond the impotent threat from White's c3-Pawn. As soon as it reaches d3, Black's d-Pawn becomes a Protected Passed Pawn.

Black's advantages are too great and he's got a game winning position.

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Summary of Black's Frontal Pressure
on White's Queenside Pawn Wing...

In summary, it must first be pointed out that, prior to 1.Qc1 (where H&M-S started their example), Black already had both Half-open c-files (b & c), and the advantage of 2-v-0 Center Pawns, (even better than 2-v-1!).

After that, White correctly identified White's Queenside Pawn Majority as being a potential game winning advantage, for White.

So, he set about preventing their advance up the board -- keep them in their territory, and their numerical advantage is for nothing.

There followed a series of trades, to Simplify the position, clearing the long range diagonal threats (Queen and Bishops) off the board.

During those exchanges, Black began to bring his Rook across onto the two Half-open files (b & c), so they would apply frontal pressure down against White's exposed b- & c-Pawns, respectively.

The crowning move was coaxing White to develop his Queenside Pawns into a Reverse Salient formation, which would prevent their further advance, due to frontal attack (from Black's Rook pair). At this point, Black has successfully immobilized White's Queenside Pawns.

With White's Queenside Pawns immobilized, Black was able to turn his focus onto advancing his Center Pawns, down the board, with their conversion to Protected Passed Pawns, deep in White's territory, being enough to seal Black's victory.


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When a Pawn Majority is a Liability...

According to H&M-S, it's the "collateral" advantages that cause a Pawn Majority to become a liability -- or the accumulation of advantages that combine against the single advantage of the Pawn Majority.

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - White's Queenside Pawn Majority, Before 1.Qc1
White's Queenside Pawn Majority,
No.154A, Before 1.Qc1
In No.154A (left), before 1.Qc1, we can see White has the Queenside Pawn Majority.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Black's Collateral Advantages, Before 1.Qc1
Black's Collateral Advantages,
No.154A, Before 1.Qc1
However, take a look at Black's "collateral" advantages ...

1. Outpost Station (e5), in enemy territory, and occupied by the Knight.

2. Strong dark-Bishop, which has full mobility through the Center, to attack White's vulnerable b-Pawn (one of White's Majority Pawns, presently unguarded).

3. Two Half-open files (b & c), which gives Black frontal access to attack White's Pawn Majority.

All he had to do was bring his Rooks to bear down on the two exposed White Pawns.

Those three collateral advantages combine to give Black the countable advantage of Superior Development.

In addition to all that, Black had another advantage, which proved to be his game-winning advantage ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 154A - Black's Collateral Advantages, Before 1.Qc1
Black's Game-Winning Advantage,
No.154A, Before 1.Qc1
2-v-0 Center Pawns. H&M-S already consider a 2-v-1 situation to be an advantage, so White not having any Center Pawns, while still having both of his Center Pawns, gives Black his game winning advantage -- which he took, as both Pawns were guided down into White's territory, and in the process, becoming Protected Passed Pawns.

All of Black's advantages combine to prevent White's Pawn Majority from advancing to force at least one Passed Pawn.

It would appear that the inability to mobilize the Pawn Majority and capitalize upon their numerical advantage, is what turns them into a "liability."


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PGN

[Event "PCC, p219-222 Diagram NO. 154A to NO. 154E"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1958.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "D. Byrne"]
[Black "Benko"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1b2rk1/p3ppbp/3q2p1/3p4/4n3/4BN2/PPP1BPPP/R2Q1RK1 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "64"]

{PCC, p219 Diagram NO.154A} 1. Qc1 Ba6 2. Bxa6 Qxa6 3. Bh6 Rfc8 4. Bxg7 Kxg7 5. Qd1 e6 {PCC, p220 Diagram NO.154B} 6. c3 Qb6 7. Rb1 Rab8 8. h4 h6 9. Nd2 Nf6 10. Qe2 Qb5 11. Qxb5 Rxb5 {PCC, p220 Diagram NO.154C} 12. Rfc1 Ra5 13. a3 Rac5 14. g3 Ne8 15. Kf1 Nd6 16. Re1 Rb8 17. Rec1 Rc7 18. Ke2 e5 {PCC, p221 Diagram NO.154D} 19. Kf1 Kf6 20. Ke2 Ke6 21. Ke1 f5 22. Kd1 Ne4 23. Ke2 Nc5 24. f4 e4 25. Rc2 Kd6 26. Ke3 Ne6 27. Rbc1 a5 {PCC, p221 Diagram NO.154E} 28. a4 Rbc8 29. Nb3 Rc4 30. Nxa5 d4+ 31. Kf2 Rxa4 32. Nb3 d3 *

End.

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