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The Isolated Pawn
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2)

Point Count Chess, NO.76, p111
Capablanca v. Fine, 1937

H&M-S determine a player to have the Initiative if they have "the superior development that lets him pick his own battleground and initiate tactical threats."

The Initiative has an impact on the player who is in possession of an Isolated Pawn:

In this example, we see how White uses the Initiative, owing to his Superior Development, to ensure he has the superior game, in spite of incurring the Isolated Pawn (on the d-file).

Beneath the ChessFlash viewer, you'll find my analysis of the position featured in Point Count Chess:
  1. PCC, p.111, No.76, after 17...Rfe8
  2. Result of the Role of the Initiative (1 of 2).
  3. Summary of the Role of the Initiative (1 of 2).
  4. PGN

The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2)
My Analysis

Position #1, My Analysis
PCC, p.111, No.76, after 17...Rfe8

After: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.O-O O-O 9.Qe2 Bg4 10.Rd1 Qe7 11.h3 Bh5 12.e4 Nbd7 13.e5 Nd5 14.Ne4 f6 15.exf6 gxf6 16.Ng3 Bf7 17.Bh6 Rfe8

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - Page 111
After: 17...Rfe8

1. White incurs an Isolated d-Pawn, in exchange for causing Black a weak Pawn structure surrounding his Kingside Castled King.

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 1.d4 to 2...c6
The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 1.d4 to 2...c6
After 1.d4 to 2...c6, we see the familiar tension between Black's d5-Pawn (1...d7-d5) and White's c4-Pawn (2.c2-c4), prior to White incurring the Isolated d-Pawn.

However, in contrast to previous examples (No.74 & No.75), there's a significant difference in the way White incurs the Isolated d-Pawn ...
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 4...dxc4
The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 4...dxc4
After 4...dxc4, Black's d5-Pawn breaks the tension to capture White's c4-Pawn (4...d5xc4).

At no point has White made any attempt to defend his d4-Pawn, with the e-Pawn, as was done in No.74 or No.75, for example, preferring instead to leave the task to his Queen (Qd1) and King Knight (Nf3).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 5...Bf5 6.e3
The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 5...Bf5 6.e3
After 5...Bf5 6.e3, possibly not wanting to trigger an exchange of his Nc3, for Black's light-Bishop (5...Bc8-f5), White develops his e-Pawn (6.e2-e3) just enough to allow White's light-Bishop to attack Black's Blockaded c4-Pawn.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 7.Bxc4 to 8...O-O
The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 7.Bxc4 to 8...O-O
After 7.Bxc4 to 8...O-O, White's light-Bishop captures Black's Blockaded c4-Pawn (7.Bf1xc4), finally completing the exchange of Pawns, started earlier by Black's d-Pawn (4...d5xc4).

Both Kings subsequently Castle Kingside (8.O-O O-O), with White's Castling also breaking the Pin on his Nc3, by Black's dark-Bishop (7...Bf8-b4).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 9.Qe2 » 10.Rd1
The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 9.Qe2 » 10.Rd1
After 9.Qe2 » 10.Rd1, White's Queen moves onto the e-file (9.Qd1-e2), as White prepares to push his e-Pawn up to e5 (from where it will force Black to weaken his his Pawn Guard surrounding his King).

White's King Rook moves onto the d-file (10.Rf1-d1), to help support the d4-Pawn, once White's e-Pawn is pushed beyond e4 (when it will no longer be defending White's d4-Pawn).

During those two White moves, Black's light-Bishop has moved to Pin White's Nf3 (9...Bf5-g4). So, now both Black Bishops each attack a White Knight.

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 11.h3 Bh5
The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 11.h3 Bh5
After 11.h3 Bh5, White's h-Pawn (11.h2-h3) attacks Black's Bg4, but it just steps back (11...Bg4-h5) to maintain the Pin on White's Nf3.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 12.e4 » 13.e5
The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 12.e4 » 13.e5
After 12.e4 » 13.e5, in two successive moves, White's e-Pawn is pushed up into the Advanced position (12.e3-e4 » 13.e4-e5), at the head of the Advanced Chain, where it attacks Black's Nf6.

Note: This leaves White's d4-Pawn Backward, without support from any Pawns (the last stage before it becomes Isolated).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 13...Nd5 14.Ne4
The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 13...Nd5 14.Ne4
After 13...Nd5 14.Ne4, Black's Knight is forced to flee onto the d5-Outpost (13...Nf6-d5), enabling White to remove his Nc3 from the clutches of Black's Bb4.

White tucks his Knight in behind White's e5-Pawn (14.Nc3-e4), where it coordinates with the e5-Pawn, against the f6-square. This increases Black's Cramp, and possibly explains Black's next decision ...
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 14...f6 15.exf6 gxf6
The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 14...f6 15.exf6 gxf6
After 14...f6 15.exf6 gxf6, White's d4-Pawn becomes the Isolated Pawn, as White uses his e-Pawn to weaken the Pawn Guard surrounding Black's Kingside Castled King.

Black's f-Pawn comes out to attack White's e5-Pawn (14...f7-f6), which lets White exchange Pawns on f6 (15...e5xf6), resulting White's d4-Pawn becoming Isolated, in exchange for causing Black's Compromised King-side, as Black's g-Pawn has to complete the trade (15...g7xf6).

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The Result of the Role of the Initiative (1 of 2)...

2. White's Superior Development strengthens White's Isolated Pawn

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 15...gxf6
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 15...gxf6
After 15...gxf6, White's d4-Pawn becomes the Isolated Pawn, White has the advantage of Superior Development ...

White's a4 & d4 Pawns attack into Black's territory, restricting Black's development.

White's Isolated d4-Pawn also gets special mention, as it holds the 4th v. 3rd advantage against Black's e6-Pawn.

Black's Pawns, by comparison, are less developed, causing Black's Pieces a bit more Cramp than White's Pieces, which have greater freedom to move about in their own territory.

Furthermore, Black suffers from a Compromised King-side, which includes an Isolated h-Pawn & a Hole at h6 (it's a countable weakness because it's in close proximity to Black's Kingside Castled King).

So, White's Superior Development gives him the Initiative. Now White's focus is to maintain the Initiative, avoid his Isolated Pawn becoming a hindrance ...

3. White maintains the Initiative, to ensure success, despite having incurred his Isolated Pawn

Initiative 1
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 16.Ng3 to 17...Rfe8
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 16.Ng3 to 17...Rfe8
After 16.Ng3 to 17...Rfe8, White maintains the Initiative, with a couple of forcing maneuvers to drive back Black Pieces.
These forcing maneuvers help White to maintain the Initiative, as Black is unable to play counterattacking moves of his own; Black's moves are forced upon him, enabling White to dictate his own moves.
First, White's Nd4 attacks Black's light-Bishop, forcing it to retreat (16.Nd4-g3 Bh5-f7), breaking the Pin on White's Nf3, in the process.

Next, White's dark-Bishop moves to occupy the h6-Hole (17.Bc1-h6), where it also attacks Black's King Rook, forcing it to flee (17...Rf8-e8).

Return to the Summary, Entry 3
Initiative 2
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 18.Ne1 to 23.Qxf4
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 18.Ne1 to 23.Qxf4
After 18.Ne1 to 23.Qxf4, White maintains the Initiative by forcing Black to exchange a couple of Minor Pieces, Simplifying the position for the benefit of White and his Isolated d-Pawn.

First, White forces the exchange of one set of adverse Knights (19.Nf3-e1 » 19.Ne1-d3 » 20.Qe2-f3 » 21.Nd3-f4 Ne5xf4).

And that leads to the exchange of the adverse dark-Bishops (22.Bh6xf4 Bd6xf4 Qf3xf4).
Return to the Summary, Entry 3
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 24.Bb3 to 27.Ne4
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 24.Bb3 to 27.Ne4
After 24.Bb3 to 27.Ne4, White continues to apply pressure against Black's Weak Pawn Phalanx (e6 & f6), with his Pieces.
  • Black's e6-Pawn is targeted by White's light-Bishop (24.Bc4-b3) & King Rook (25.Rd1-e1).

  • Black's f6-Pawn is targeted by White's Queen (26.Qf4-h4) & Knight (27.Ng3-e4).
Note: Even when friendly or enemy Pieces get in the way, pressure is still applied to Black's two Weak Pawns, by X-Ray.
Initiative 3
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 27...f5 28.Qxe7 Nxe7
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 27...f5 28.Qxe7 Nxe7
After 27...f5 28.Qxe7 Nxe7, White maintains the Initiative by forcing Black to exchange Queens, further Simplifying the position for the benefit of White and his Isolated d-Pawn.

The pressure against Black's Weak Pawn Phalanx proved too great, so it would appear Black chose to get rid of one of the threats, by advancing his weak f6-Pawn (27...f6-f5), to allow the exchange of Queens (28.Qh4xe7 Nd5xe7).

Black's e6-Pawn remains weak; Black's f5-Pawn gains in strength, from the protection it now gets from Black's e6-Pawn.

Return to the Summary, Entry 3

4. White's Isolated d-Pawn is captured, but White maintains the Initiative, with new tactical threats

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 29.Nc5
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 29.Nc5
After 29.Nc5, White removes his Knight from the attack by Black's f5-Pawn, to post the Knight onto the c5-Outpost (29.Ne4-c5).
Note: White has chosen to ignore the fact his Isolated d4-Pawn is undefended, as it would appear unnecessary to White's plan, now.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 29...Rxd4
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 29...Rxd4
After 29...Rxd4, White's Isolated d-Pawn is captured by Black's Rook (29...Rd8xd4).
Initiative 4
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 30.Rxe6
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 30.Rxe6
After 30.Rxe6, White maintains the Initiative, as his Rook captures Black's Backward e6-Pawn (30.Re1xe6), to bust through to Black's camp.
Return to the Summary, Entry 4
Initiative 5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 30...Nd5 31.Nxb7
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 30...Nd5 31.Nxb7x
After 30...Nd5 31.Nxb7,White maintains the Initiative, by capturing Black's b-Pawn (31.Nc5xb7), to leave Black with just 4x Pawns, all of which are Isolated.

Regarding Black's move (30...Ne7-d5); it's an attempt to stop White's Rook (Re5) gaining the 7th Rank. However, Black cannot prevent it ...
Return to the Summary, Entry 4
Initiative 6
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 32.Bxd5 Rxd5
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 32.Bxd5 Rxd5
After 32.Bxd5 Rxd5, White maintains the Initiative, by exchanging his light-Bishop for Black's Nd5 (32.Bb3xd5 Rd4xd5), to remove the defender that's preventing White from gaining the Rook on the 7th Rank.
Return to the Summary, Entry 4
Initiative 7
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 76 - (RESULT) The Isolated Pawn, The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2), After 33.Nd6 to 36.Re7
(RESULT) The Isolated Pawn,
The Role of the Initiative (1 of 2),
After 33.Nd6 to 36.Re7
After 33.Nd6 to 36.Re7, White maintains the Initiative, by gaining the advantage of the Rook on the 7th Rank, which then targets Black's Isolated Pawns, picking them off methodically.

Black does his best to counterattack White's Queenside units, by focusing on White's Backward b-Pawn (33...Rg8-b8), and forcing the exchange of one set of Rooks (34...Rd5-d1+ 35.Rb1xd1 Bh5xd1).

However, Black is unable to prevent White's Rook gaining the 7th Rank (36.Re6-e7). From here, White's Rook is able to methodically pick off Black's remaining Isolated Pawns on the Queenside, en route to victory.

Return to the Summary, Entry 4

[Jump to ChessFlash Viewer]

Summary of the Role of the Initiative (1 of 2)...

  1. White incurs an Isolated d-Pawn, in exchange for causing Black a weak Pawn structure surrounding his Kingside Castled King. White's e-Pawn is pushed up into the Advanced position (12.e3-e4 » 13.e4-e5), at the head of the Advanced Chain, where it attacks Black's Nf6. Black's f-Pawn comes out to attack White's e5-Pawn (14...f7-f6), which lets White exchange Pawns on f6 (15...e5xf6), resulting White's d4-Pawn becoming Isolated, in exchange for causing Black's Compromised King-side, as Black's g-Pawn has to complete the trade (15...g7xf6).

  2. White's Superior Development strengthens White's Isolated Pawn. In White's favor are his a- & d-Pawns, which attack into Black's territory, restricting Black's development. Also, White's d4-Pawn, despite being Isolated, gives White the 4th v. 3rd advantage against Black's e6-Pawn. To add to White's Superior Development, Black has key weaknesses: Compromised King-side; Hole at h6; and an Isolated h-Pawn, all in the vicinity of Black's Kingside Castled King.

  3. White maintains the Initiative, to ensure success, despite having incurred his Isolated Pawn:

    • Initiative 1: a couple of forcing maneuvers to drive back Black Pieces.

    • Initiative 2: forcing Black to exchange a couple of Minor Pieces, Simplifying the position for the benefit of White and his Isolated d-Pawn.

    • Initiative 3: forcing Black to exchange Queens, further Simplifying the position for the benefit of White and his Isolated d-Pawn.


  4. White's Isolated d-Pawn is captured (29...Rd8xd4), but White maintains the Initiative, with new tactical threats:

    • Initiative 4: as his Rook captures Black's Backward e6-Pawn, to bust through to Black's camp.

    • Initiative 5: by capturing Black's b-Pawn, to leave Black with just 4x Pawns, all of which are Isolated.

    • Initiative 6: by exchanging his light-Bishop for Black's Nd5, to remove the defender that's preventing White from gaining the Rook on the 7th Rank.

    • Initiative 7: by gaining the advantage of the Rook on the 7th Rank, which then targets Black's Isolated Pawns, picking them off methodically.


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PGN

[Event "Semmering"]
[Site "Semmering"]
[Date "1937.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "1"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[White "Jose Raul Capablanca"]
[Black "Reuben Fine"]
[ECO "D19"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "148"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O O-O 9. Qe2 Bg4 10. Rd1 Qe7 11. h3 Bh5 12. e4 Nbd7 13. e5 Nd5 14. Ne4 f6 15. exf6 gxf6 16. Ng3 Bf7 17. Bh6 Rfe8 {PCC p.111 No.76} 18. Ne1 Kh8 19. Nd3 Bd6 20. Qf3 Rg8 21. Nf4 Nxf4 22. Bxf4 Bxf4 23. Qxf4 Nb6 24. Bb3 Rad8 25. Re1 Nd5 26. Qh4 Bg6 27. Ne4 f5 28. Qxe7 Nxe7 29. Nc5 Rxd4 30. Rxe6 Nd5 31. Nxb7 Bh5 32. Bxd5 Rxd5 33. Nd6 Rb8 34. Rb1 Rd1+ 35. Rxd1 Bxd1 36. Re7 Bxa4 37. Rxa7 Bc2 38. Rc7 Rxb2 39. Rxc6 Kg7 40. Nc4 Ra2 41. Ne3 Be4 42. Re6 Kf7 43. Re5 Kf6 44. Rb5 Ra6 45. Kh2 Ra2 46. Kg3 Ra4 47. Kh2 Rd4 48. f3 Bd3 49. Ra5 Ke6 50. g3 Bc2 51. f4 Bd3 52. Re5+ Kf6 53. Nd5+ Kf7 54. g4 fxg4 55. hxg4 Bc4 56. Rf5+ Kg7 57. Ne3 Bd3 58. Rd5 Rxd5 59. Nxd5 Bc4 60. Ne3 Bf7 61. Ng2 Bc4 62. Ne1 Bd5 63. Kg3 Kf6 64. Nf3 Be4 65. Ne5 Bc2 66. Kh4 h6 67. Nd7+ Kg7 68. f5 Ba4 69. Nc5 Bd1 70. Kg3 Kf7 71. Kf4 Be2 72. Ne4 Bd1 73. Nc3 Bb3 74. Ke5 Bc4 1/2-1/2

End.

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