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The Backward Pawn
The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack

Point Count Chess, NO.55A to NO.55B, p85-86
Capablanca v. Blanco, 1913

In this example, Black's e-Pawn becomes the Backward Pawn. Black opts to Open with the French Defence (1.e4 e6) and then exchange his d-Pawn on e4. This leaves Black's e6-Pawn reliant on the f-Pawn, for Pawn support.

It's this vulnerability of Black's e-Pawn that White exploits, by threatening an attack on Black's King, with his light-Bishop (Bd3) and Queen (Qh3); they combine to force Black to move the f-Pawn, to f5, to increase defenses along the b1-h7 diagonal. However, that causes Black's e6-Pawn to become Backward, and White's focus switches to applying pressure to it, before capturing that weak, Black e-Pawn.

Beneath the ChessFlash viewer, you'll find my analysis of the two positions featured in Point Count Chess:
  1. PCC, p.85, No.55A, after 11...Ne8
  2. PCC, p.86, No.55B, after 24...Bc8
  3. Result of the King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack.
  4. Summary of the King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack.
  5. PGN

The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack
My Analysis

Position #1, My Analysis
PCC, p.85, No.55A, after 11...Ne8

After: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6%2B Nxf6 7.Ne5 Bd6 8.Qf3 c6 9.c3 O-O 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bd3 Ne8

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55A - Page 85
After: 11...Ne8

1. How Black's e-Pawn becomes a Backward Pawn

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55A - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 1.e4 e6
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 1.e4 e6
After 1.e4 e6, following White's King Pawn Opening (1.e2-e4), Black chooses to play the French Defence (1...e7-e6).

The purpose of Black's e6-Pawn, in the French Defence, is to provide support to launch Black's d-Pawn, to d5.

However, once Black's d-Pawn has advanced, Black's e6-Pawn has to rely on the f7-Pawn remaining where it is ...

If White can force Black's f-Pawn to step forward, Black's e6-Pawn will be at risk of becoming Backward (under frontal attack, unable to advance, and without support from a fellow Pawn). This is precisely what happens, in this example.

This Backward e-Pawn would be a weakness to bear in mind, if in command of Black, and considering playing the French Defence. And don't discount the French Defence, because of the Backward Pawn risk, as every Opening will have its own specific strengths and weaknesses to consider.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55A - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 2.d4 to 4.Nxe4
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 2.d4 to 4.Nxe4
After 2.d4 to 4.Nxe4, White gains a 4th v. 3rd in the Center, as Black exchanges his d-Pawn, to take-out White's e4-Pawn.

The advance of White's d-Pawn (2.d2-d4) puts it in a 4th v. 3rd position, against Black's e6-Pawn. But, it's not until Black's d-Pawn comes out and exchanges itself on e4, that White actually qualifies for the 4th v. 3rd advantage.

Black's e6-Pawn is now reliant on his f-Pawn not having to advance to f5, else it will take a Backward position.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55A - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 4...Nd7 to 6...Nxf6
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 4...Nd7 to 6...Nxf6
After 4...Nd7 to 6...Nxf6, one set of Knights are exchanged off the board, as White's Queen Knight takes-out Black's King Knight (6.Ne4xf6+).

Black's Queen Knight, having come across to defend the Nf6's position (4...Nb8-d7), completes the trade (6...Nd7xf6).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55A - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 7.Ne5 to 8...c6
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 7.Ne5 to 8...c6
After 7.Ne5 to 8...c6, White builds up a threat against Black's c6-square, on the Queenside, while simultaneously developing his Queen, so she can subsequently provide part of the main Kingside threat, that will force Black's f-Pawn to come out to f5, which consequently leads to Black's e6-Pawn becoming Backward.

White's Queenside threat comes from the coordination of e5-Outpost Knight (7.Nf3-e5) and Queen (8.Qd1-f3), against the c6-square.

White's threat appears to be Ne5-c6, attacking Black's Queen, and forcing ...b7xc6. That, in turn, allows White's Queen to Fork Black's King (Ke8) and Rook (Ra8), winning the Rook.

As Black is forced to defend, with the c-Pawn (8...c7-c6), it combines with the b7- & e6-Pawns, to make Black's Bc8 a Bad Bishop. This also helps White build-up to the Kingside attack, as Black's light-Bishop won't be able to attack White's Queen, on either a8-h1 or c8-h3 diagonals, which will enable White's Queen to remain on f3, until she's ready to go out to h3, for the Kingside attack that will help turn Black's e6-Pawn into a Backward Pawn.

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55A - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 9.c3 to 10...Be7
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 9.c3 to 10...Be7
After 9.c3 to 10...Be7, White first reinforces the d4-Pawn, with 9.c2-c3, against an attacking threat from Black's c-Pawn (...e6-c5), after which Black chooses to Castle Kingside (9...O-O).

Next, White's dark-Bishop comes out to apply a Pin to Black's Nf6 (10.Bc1-g5), which forces Black to remove the pressure against White's Ne5, to defend the Nf6 with his dark-Bishop (10...Bd6-e7).

This is important, as White's Ne5 prevents Black's e6-Pawn from attacking its way out of its soon-to-be-Backward position (e.g. ...e6-e5, attacking White's d4-Pawn).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55A - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 11.Bd3 Ne8
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 11.Bd3 Ne8
After 11.Bd3 Ne8, White's Bishop, attack Black's h7-Pawn (11.Bf1-d3), plays a significant role in forcing Black's f-Pawn to come out to f5, which will leave Black's e6-Pawn in a Backward position.

Black moves his Nf6 out of the way (11...Nf6-e8), to make way for the advance of Black's f7-Pawn, to f5.

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Position #2, My Analysis
PCC, p.86, No.55B, after 24...Bc8

After: 12.Qh3 f5 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.O-O Rf6 15.Rfe1 Nd6 16.Re2 Bd7 17.Rae1 Re8 18.c4 Nf7 19.d5 Nxe5 20.Rxe5 g6 21.Qh4 Kg7 22.Qd4 c5 23.Qc3 b6 24.dxe6 Bc8

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55B - Page 86
After: 24...Bc8
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55B - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 12.Qh3 f5
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 12.Qh3 f5
After 12.Qh3 f5, Black's e-Pawn is left in a Backward position, as Black's f-Pawn is forced foward (12...f7-f5), to intercept the combined threat posed by White's light-Bishop (Bd3) on the b1-h7 diagonal, and the new position taken up by White's Queen (12.Qf3-h3).

Without this ...f7-f5 block, White has a very genuine opportunity to attack Black's King (Kg8), with Whtie's Bd3 leading the attack (Bd3xh7+).

However, the block leaves Black's e-Pawn without any Pawn support, which is what puts it in a Backward position.

White will now begin to apply frontal pressure against Black's Backward e-Pawn, in this case, with both Rooks coming to the Half-open e-file.

2. White builds Pressure against Black's Backward e-Pawn

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55B - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 13.Bxe7 Qxe7
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 13.Bxe7 Qxe7
After 13.Bxe7 Qxe7, in the aftermath of Black's f-Pawn block, which caused Black's e6-Pawn to become Backward, the path between the two adverse dark-Bishops opens up. White wastes no time, and immediately exchanges Bishops off the board (13.Bg5xe7 Qd8xe7).

White can now focus on building pressure against Black's Backward e6-Pawn.
Note: the removal of Black's dark-Bishop serves to remove the threat to White's e5-Outpost Knight, which is maintaining its blockade on Black's Backward e6-Pawn, and keeping it in position, while White focuses on building up pressure against Black's Backward Pawn.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55B - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 14.O-O to 17.Rae1
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 14.O-O to 17.Rae1
After 14.O-O to 17.Rae1, White builds pressure against Black's Backward e6-Pawn, by forming his two Rooks into Battery formation, on the Half-Open e-file. In successive moves, White:
  1. Castles Kingside (14.O-O), to release his King Rook in toward the middle of the board.

  2. Begins to build the Rook Battery on the e-file, by first sending his King Rook up to e2 (15.Rf1-e1 » 16.Re1-e2).

  3. Forms his Rook Battery on the e-file, by slotting his Queen Rook underneath its fellow Rook (17.Ra1-e1).

Even though White's e5-Outpost Knight is blocking direct pressure against Black's Backward e6-Pawn, the pressure is still there, by X-Ray (Def. 2).

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55B - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 17...Re8
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 17...Re8
After 17...Re8, note how many Pieces Black has tasked with defending the weak, Backward e6-Pawn. Only Black's Nd6 and Kg8 aren't in positions to support the weakling Pawn.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55B - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 18.c4 Nf7 19.d5
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 18.c4 Nf7 19.d5
After 18.c4 Nf7 19.d5, White's c- & d-Pawns combine to further increase pressure against Black's Backward e6-Pawn, advancing to directly attack it.

First, supported by the earlier key positioning of White's Bd3, White advances the c-Pawn (18.c3-c4), in preparation to advance the d4-Pawn.

After Black's Knight retreats (18...Nd6-f7) to attack White's e5-Outpost Knight, White's d-Pawn is advanced (19.d4-d5), increasing the pressure against Black's Backward e6-Pawn, with a direct attack on it.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55B - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 19...Nxe5 20.Rxe5
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 19...Nxe5 20.Rxe5
After 19...Nxe5 20.Rxe5, the exchange of Knights (19...Nf7xe5) enables White's leading Rook (20.Re2xe5) to unleash the pressure of the Rook Battery, directly against Black's Backward e6-Pawn.

3. White delays capturing, but eventually wins Black's
Backward e-Pawn

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55B - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 20...g6 to 23...b6
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 20...g6 to 23...b6
After 20...g6 to 23...b6, White delays capturing Black's Backward e6-Pawn, appearing content to invite Black to advance Pawns on both sides of the board (Kingside Pawns: 20...g7-g6; Queenside Pawns: 22...c6-c5 & 23...b7-b6).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55B - The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 24.dxe6 Bc8
The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 24.dxe6 Bc8
After 24.dxe6 Bc8, White's d-Pawn finally captures Black's Backward e6-Pawn (24.d5xe6), forcing Black's light-Bishop to retreat (24...Bd7-c8).

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The Result of the King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55 - (RESULT) The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 24.dxe6 Bc8
(RESULT) The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 24.dxe6 Bc8
After 24.dxe6 Bc8, following the capture of Black's Backward e6-Pawn (24.d5xe6), White's d-Pawn becomes a Passed Pawn on the e-file, supported by White's Rook Battery.

Because of the potential Pin by White's Queen (Qc3), which is in a straight line with Black's Rook (Rf6) and King (Kg7), Black must retreat his Bishop (24...Bd7-c8), rather than take-out White's Passed Pawn: after 24...Bd7xd6 25.Re5xe6, the Pin on Black's Rf6, by White's Qc3, would be revealed.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55 - (RESULT) The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 25.Be2 Bxe6
(RESULT) The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 25.Be2 Bxe6
After 25.Be2 Bxe6, White, interestingly, decides to let Black take his newly created Passed Pawn, actively encouraging it by interposing his Bishop (25.Bd3-e2) between the Rook Battery, thereby reducing the the threat of reprisals that had recently been present. Black's Bishop is swift to capture White's Passed Pawn (25...Bc8xe6).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55 - (RESULT) The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 26.Bf3 to 28...Re7
(RESULT) The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 26.Bf3 to 28...Re7
After 26.Bf3 to 28...Re7, White still refuses to capture Black's Be6, instead using his time to create a powerful Battery on the e-file, with his Queen and two Rooks.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 55 - (RESULT) The Backward Pawn, The King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack, After 29.Qh6 to 33.Rxe6
(RESULT) The Backward Pawn,
The King Pawn in a Classical
King-Side Attack,
After 29.Qh6 to 33.Rxe6
After 29.Qh6 to 33.Rxe6, Black resigns, as White's leading e-file Rook finally captures Black's Bishop (33.Re5xe6).

This brings an end to a successful Kingside attack, by White, which included the active creation of Black's Backward e-Pawn, and its subsequent capture.
It's here we see White's purpose, behind his refusal to use his own Bishop to capture Black's Be6: And so, Black resigns.

[Jump to ChessFlash Viewer]

Summary of the King Pawn in a Classical King-Side Attack...

  1. This example shows how the French Defence (1.e2-e4 e7-e6) can lead to Black's e-Pawn becoming Backward. IMPORTANT: It shouldn't be assumed the French Defence is a bad Opening, just to be aware of this, if you're controlling Black's army (and keep your eyes peeled, if you're facing the French Defence, as White!).

  2. Black's e-Pawn becomes Backward, after the loss of the d-Pawn (2..d7-d5 » 3...d5xe4 4.Nc3xe4), and after White's Bd3 and Qh3, force Black's f-Pawn to step too far forward (12...f7-f5), as it had to defend that potential Mating attack. However, it left Black's e6-Pawn without Pawn support and unable to advance to gain protection from Black's f-Pawn.

  3. White builds Pressure against Black's Backward e6-Pawn, bringing both Rooks into Battery formation, on the Half-Open e-file (14.O-O » 15.Rf1-e1 » 16.Re1-e2 » 17.Ra1-e1).

  4. White delays capturing, but eventually wins Black's Backward e-Pawn. First, White's c- & d-Pawns are pushed up (18.c3-c4 » 19.d4-d5), to apply further pressure against Black's Backward e6-Pawn. Then, White maintains the tension at e6, while appearing to encourage Black's Flank Pawns to come forward (Kingside Pawns: 20...g7-g6; Queenside Pawns: 22...c6-c5 & 23...b7-b6). And then White's d-Pawn captures Black's Backward e6-Pawn (24.d5xe6).

  5. White's d-Pawn, after capturing Black's Backward e6-Pawn, becomes a Passed Pawn on e6 ... but only briefly, as White encourages Black to capture it, by turning-down the strength of his attack on the e-file, by interposing his own Bishop (25.Bd3-e2) in between his e-file Rook Battery.

    Black's Bishop captures immediately (25...Bc8xe6). White's purpose was to post his own Bishop onto d5 (26.Be2-f3 » 27.Bf3-d5) and to capture Black's Be6, with his leading Rook (33.Re5xe6), to set up the threat of a Discovered Check, against Black's King, which had been corralled by White's Queen, onto g8, which is on the same a2-g8 digonal, where White's Discovered Check Pieces sit.

    Black resigns.

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PGN

[Event "Havana"]
[Site "Havana"]
[Date "1913"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Jose Raul Capablanca"]
[Black "Rafael Blanco Estera"]
[ECO "C10"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "65"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Nxf6+ Nxf6 7. Ne5 Bd6 8. Qf3 c6 9. c3 O-O 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Bd3 Ne8 {PCC p.85 No.55A} 12. Qh3 f5 13. Bxe7 Qxe7 14. O-O Rf6 15. Rfe1 Nd6 16. Re2 Bd7 17. Rae1 Re8 18. c4 Nf7 19. d5 Nxe5 20. Rxe5 g6 21. Qh4 Kg7 22. Qd4 c5 23. Qc3 b6 24. dxe6 Bc8 {PCC p.86 No. 55B}25. Be2 Bxe6 26. Bf3 Kf7 27. Bd5 Qd6 28. Qe3 Re7 29. Qh6 Kg8 30. h4 a6 31. h5 f4 32. hxg6 hxg6 33. Rxe6 1-0

End.

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