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Hanging Pawns
Shaky Center Pawns

Point Count Chess, NO.83, p118
Kevitz v. Kotov, 1955

In this example, White's 3-Pawn Phalanx (c4-, d4- & e4-Pawns) are considered to be Hanging Pawns, by H&M-S.

Important: Despite White's 4th Rank Phalanx not being Isolated, as per H&M-S's standard definition of Hanging Pawns, in this example (No.83), H&M-S still consider White's 3-Pawn Phalanx on the 4th Rank, to be Hanging Pawns, as they've become Overextended to the point where they cannot advance safely, when under frontal attack.

H&M-S say: "Overextension can lead to a shaky center, which we may as well call hanging pawns when they have the characteristic disability to advance safely in the face of attack."

Beneath the ChessFlash viewer, you'll find my analysis of the position featured in Point Count Chess:
  1. PCC, p.118, No.83, after 10...c6
  2. Result of the Shaky Center Pawns.
  3. Summary of the Shaky Center Pawns.
  4. PGN
Additional analysis includes the:

Shaky Center Pawns
My Analysis

Position #1, My Analysis
PCC, p.118, No.83, after 10...c6

After: 1.Nf3 d6 2.d4 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nd7 5.e4 e5 6.Be2 Nh6 7.O-O O-O 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bg5 f6 10.Bd2 c6

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - Page 118
After: 10...c6

1. How White incurs Hanging Pawns (that aren't Isolated),
on the c-, d- & e-files.

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 1.Nf3 d6 2.d4
Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 1.Nf3 d6 2.d4
After 1.Nf3 d6 2.d4, White develops his d-Pawn: the first of his three Pawns that end up as Hanging Pawns.

White begins with a Hypermodern opening, by developing his King Knight (1.Ng1-f3), which is known as the "Reti Opening".

Black replies with the short development of his d-Pawn (1...d7-d6), rather than the more-common ...d7-d5.

White then develops his d-Pawn to the 4th Rank (2.d2-d4).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 2...g6 3.c4
Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 2...g6 3.c4
After 2...g6 3.c4, White develops his c-Pawn: the second of his three Pawns that end up as Hanging Pawns.

Black's g-Pawn develops (2...g7-g6) to enable Black's dark-Bishop to Fianchetto on g7.

White then develops his c-Pawn to the 4th Rank (3.c2-c4), into Phalanx formation, alongside White's d4-Pawn.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 3...Bg7 to 5.e4
Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 3...Bg7 to 5.e4
After 3...Bg7 to 5.e4, White develops his e-Pawn: the third of his three Pawns that end up as Hanging Pawns.
I assume this is the moment when White's 4th Rank Pawns have become "Overextended."
Black develops Pieces that will support the advance of Black's e-Pawn (...e7-e5) that will attack White's d4-Pawn (this will be the frontal attack that will mark White's three 4th Rank Pawns out as Hanging Pawns) ...

First, Black Fianchettoes his dark-Bishop (3...Bf8-g7), which immediately attacks White's d4-Pawn, while also supporting the advance of Black's e-Pawn, to e5.

Second, Black develops his Queen Knight (4...Nb8-d7), which supports the advance of Black's e-Pawn, to e5, while also guarding the c5-square, against a potential advance by White's c4-Pawn. This makes it awkward for White to advance his Pawns out of their Hanging situation.

During that sequence, White develops his Queen Knight (4.Nb1-c3), which could support the advance of White's d4-Pawn, to d5; and then White's e-Pawn is developed to his 4th Rank (5.e2-e4).

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 5...e5
Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 5...e5
After 5...e5, Black's e-Pawn is developed (5...e7-e5), performing a frontal attack against White's d4-Pawn, while also blockading White's e4-Pawn, preventing it from advancing out of the threatened attack from Black's f-Pawn (...f7-f5).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 6.Be2 to 7...O-O
Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 6.Be2 to 7...O-O
After 6.Be2 to 7...O-O, both sides complete their respective development that allows each to Castle Kingside (7.O-O O-O).
Note: it's often recommended to develop Knights inwardly, so they help to contest the battle for Control of the Center.

It's often seen as weak to develop your Knight out to the extreme Flanks (a- & h-files), because they're not optimally developed (covering only 4x squares, instead of a Knight's maximum 8x squares) and because the Knight is further removed from the Center.

However, here, Black has chosen to develop his King Knight outwards, to the h-file (6...Ng8-f6). The reason it's not weak, in this specific situation, is Black's Knight avoids blockading Black's own f-Pawn, which is now clear to take part in the action against White's increasingly vulnerable 3-Pawn Phalanx on the 4th Rank.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 8.Be3 to 10.Bd2
Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 8.Be3 to 10.Bd2
After 8.Be3 to 10.Bd2, Black's King Knight and f-Pawn cause White's dark-Bishop to waste a Tempo.

The first move of White's dark-Bishop (8.Bc1-e3), tries to support White's d4-Pawn, without blocking the support the d4-Pawn gets from its Queen (Qd1).

However, White's dark-Bishop is forced to move a second time, when it becomes attacked by Black's King Knight (8...Nh6-g4). White tries to be positive, by using the support of White's Nf3, to attack Black's exposed Queen, with his dark-Bishop (9.Be3-g5).

However, Whtie's dark-Bishop is forced to move a third time (the wasted Tempo), when it becomes attacked by Black's f-Pawn (9...f7-f6). But now, White's dark-Bishop has only two viable options: un-develop back to c1, or to d2 (the option chosen: 10.Bg5-d2). White's Bd2 now cuts off the support from White's Queen to the d4-Pawn, the very thing it was trying to avoid!

Why White's Bishop wastes a Tempo: Black had to move his King Knight twice, during the attack on White's dark-Bishop, which ended up moving three times (the extra Tempo wasted) in developing his dark-Bishop to an acceptable square.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 10...c6
Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 10...c6
After 10...c6, despite not being Isolated, H&M-S consider White's 4th Rank Phalanx (c4, d4 & e4), to be Hanging Pawns, at this point, following the short advance of Black's c-Pawn (10...c7-c6).
It's not until a few analysis moves later (after 14...gxf5) that H&M-S declare: "The moral of all this is that in the initial position, No.83 (after 10...c6), the White phalanx already hangs."

It's worth repeating what H&M-S said earlier: "Overextension can lead to a shaky center, which we may as well call "hanging pawns" when they have the characteristic disability to advance safely in the face of attack."

The Result shows White's actual course of action, after incurring the Hanging Pawns.

Additional Analysis reveals what H&M-S think White should have done, to reduce the disadvantage of having incurred such Hanging Pawns.


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The Result of the Shaky Center Pawns...

2. White compounded the mistake of his Overextended 4th Rank Phalanx, with a second mistake (misjudging Black's f-Pawn threat).

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - (RESULT) Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 11.b4
(RESULT) Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 11.b4
After 11.b4, White makes his move, but in doing so, fails to identify Black's f-Pawn as a threat to his 4th Rank Phalanx.
H&M-S say that White develops his b-Pawn (11.b2-b4) to broaden his 4th Rank Phalanx, as he makes the assumption that Black's e5-Pawn won't capture White's d4-Pawn, because it will leave White with a good Outpost (d4), for his King Knight to occupy (Nf3-d4), with the threat of a Knight Fork, at e6, against Black's Queen (Qd8), Rook (Rf8) and Bishop (Bg7).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - (RESULT) Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 11...f5
(RESULT) Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 11...f5
After 11...f5, Black seizes the opportunity to attack the right flank of White's Hanging Pawns, with the second advance of his f-Pawn (11...f6-f5).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - (RESULT) Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 12.d5
(RESULT) Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 12.d5
After 12.d5, White finally decides to form his Hanging Pawns into a defensive structure, with the advance of the d4-Pawn (12.d4-d5), into an Advanced Salient formation.

However, this allows Black to break down White's former 4th Rank Phalanx, and to install his own Pawns, in Phalanx formation, on Black's own 4th Rank, that help Black take Control of the Center ...
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - (RESULT) Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 12...cxd5 13.cxd5
(RESULT) Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 12...cxd5 13.cxd5
After 12...cxd5 13.cxd5, Black breaks the tension among the Pawns, to force an exchange of Pawns, onto d5 (12...c6xd5 13.c4xd5).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - (RESULT) Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 13...Ndf6 14.exf5 gxf5
(RESULT) Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
After 13...Ndf6 14.exf5 gxf5
After 13...Ndf6 14.exf5 gxf5, Black forces White to exchange his e4-Pawn, onto f5, to leave Black with Control of the Center.

Black's Queen Knight moves across (13...Nd7-f6) to attack White's e4-Pawn. This forces White to exchange his e4-Pawn, for Black's f5-Pawn (14.e4xf5), which leaves Black's g-Pawn on f5, as it completes the trade (14...g6xf5).

White has been left with an Isolated Pawn (d5), while Black's trio of Pawns (d6, e5 & f5) all help to give Black Control of the Center.

Additional Analysis reveals what H&M-S think White should have done, to reduce the disadvantage of having incurred such Hanging Pawns.


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Summary of the Shaky Center Pawns...

  1. White incurs Hanging Pawns (that aren't Isolated), on the c-, d- & e-files. White develops his d-Pawn (2.d2-d4); then c-Pawn (3.c2-c4) and finally his e-Pawn (5.e2-e4), so that they become an Overextended Pawn Phalanx, on their 4th Rank. Black attacks White's 4th Rank Phalanx, at d4, with his e-Pawn (5...e7-e5). Meanwhile, Black's c-Pawn (10...c7-c6) and d-Pawn (1...d7-d6) prevented White from defending his 4th Rank Pawns safely, which confirmed White's 4th Rank Phalanx as Hanging Pawns, despite not being Isolated.

  2. In the game, White compounded the mistake of his Overextended 4th Rank Phalanx, with a second mistake (misjudging Black's f-Pawn threat). White chose to develop his b-Pawn (11.b2-b4), to create a massive 4-Pawn Phalanx, on their 4th Rank. However, this ignored the threat from Black's f-Pawn, which was pushed a second time (11...f6-f5) to attack White's Hanging Pawns, at e4.

  3. H&M-S's remedy for Shaky, Hanging Pawns in the Center, is to "immediately seek as favorable a dissolution of the center tension as he can get." In this game, instead of playing 11.b2-b4, White should have immediately advanced his d-Pawn (d4-d5), into an Advanced Salient formation, with the view to break down the tension among the Pawns in the Center, by forcing an exchange of Pawns that would Open the c-file, with White's Queen Rook able to benefit. With swift action to remedy the problem, White may be able to gain a small influence in the Center (d5) and also reduce the stranglehold that Black and his Pawns can get in the Center.

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H&M-S's remedy for Shaky, Hanging Pawns, in the Center...

H&M-S's give their verdict on what White should have done, to reduce the disadvantage of having incurred Hanging Pawns...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - (Additional Analysis) Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 10...c6
(ADDITIONAL ANALYSIS)
Hanging Pawns,
Remedy for Shaky Center Pawns,
After 10...c6
After 10...c6, having incurred Hanging Pawns, H&M-S recommend White immediately plays to dissolve the tension in the Center, as favorably as possible.

H&M-S say: "White must immediately seek as favorable a dissolution of the center tension as he can get."

One of White's options is to push the d-Pawn, to stand a chance of gaining play through the Opening of the c-file ...
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - (Additional Analysis) Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 11.d5 f5 12.Bd3
(ADDITIONAL ANALYSIS)
Hanging Pawns,
Remedy for Shaky Center Pawns,
After 11.d5 f5 12.Bd3
After 11.d5 f5 12.Bd3, White pushes his d-Pawn into an Advanced Salient formation (11.d4-d5)*, but should still expect Black to attack White's e4-Pawn, by thrusting forward his f-Pawn (11...f6-f5).

White's light-Bishop can then be moved into position (12.Be2-d3) ready to complete the Pawn exchange on e4, if Black chooses to go down that route.
* Sure, White (Kevitz) also did this in the actual game, but his problem was that he delayed taking this course of action.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - (Additional Analysis) Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 12...cxd5 13.cxd5
(ADDITIONAL ANALYSIS)
Hanging Pawns,
Remedy for Shaky Center Pawns,
After 12...cxd5 13.cxd5
12...cxd5 13.cxd5, White should expect Black to force the exchange of c-Pawns, onto d5 (12...c6xd5 13.c4xd5).

However, this will result in the c-file becoming fully Open, with White's Queen Rook able to benefit.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 83 - (Additional Analysis) Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, After 13...fxe4 14.Bxe4
(ADDITIONAL ANALYSIS)
Hanging Pawns,
Remedy for Shaky Center Pawns,
After 13...fxe4 14.Bxe4
After 13...fxe4 14.Bxe4, White should expect Black to break the tension and force the exchange of Pawns, on e4 (13...f5xe4), with White's light-Bishop already in position to complete the trade (14.Bd3xe4).

White's Bishop is left in the Center, supporting White's Isolated, yet Advanced d5-Pawn.

This completes H&M-S's remedy for having Shaky, Hanging Pawns in the Center, showing how White might attempt to make "as favorable a dissolution of the center tension as he can get."

A quick comparison shows how different the outcome could be, by taking immediate action to remedy the situation, if you've incurred Hanging Pawns in the Center ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison, Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, Result of Delayed Action, No.83, After 14...gxf5 -- Diagram 1
(COMPARISON) Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
Result of Delayed Action,
No.83, After 14...gxf5
Point Count Chess - IE - Comparison, Hanging Pawns, Shaky Center Pawns, Result of Immediate Action, HandM-S's Remedy, After 14.Bxe4 -- Diagram 2
(COMPARISON) Hanging Pawns,
Shaky Center Pawns,
Result of Immediate Action,
H&M-S's Remedy, After 14.Bxe4

By delaying action (left), Black is able to gain full command of the Center, directly controlling ¾ of the Center, with his Pawns. White, meanwhile, has no Pawns actually contesting Control of the Center.

With swift action to remedy the problem (right), White manages to gain a small influence in the Center (d5) and is also able reduce the stranglehold that Black and his Pawns can get in the Center.


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PGN

[Event "URS-USA telex"]
[Site "Moscow"]
[Date "1955.??.??"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Kevitz, Alexander"]
[Black "Kotov, Alexander"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo ""]
[BlackElo ""]
[ECO "E94"]

1.Nf3 d6 2.d4 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nd7 5.e4 e5 6.Be2 Nh6 7.O-O O-O 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bg5 f6 10.Bd2 c6 {PCC p.118 No.83} 11.b4 f5 12.d5 cxd5 13.cxd5 Ndf6 14.exf5 gxf5 15.Rc1 Qe7 16.h3 Nh6 17.Nb5 Ne8 18.Nxa7 Bd7 19.Nb5 Rxa2 20.Qb3 e4 21.Bg5 Qf7 22.Qxa2 exf3 23.gxf3 f4 24.Bxh6 Qg6+ 25.Kh1 Qxh6 26.Rg1 Qxh3+ 0-1

End.

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