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Strong Outpost Station
When a Pawn Occupying the Station is more menacing

NO. 34 ... p56, Tarrasch v. Von Scheve, 1894

H&M-S say that, in a number of opening variations, it's often possible to get a Knight to occupy your fifth rank e-file square (e5, for White; e4, for Black), supported by a Pawn (d4, for White; d5, for Black).

This Outpost, in an advanced position (it's in enemy territory), is the cause of a dilemma for the opposing side.

If your opponent gains just such an Outpost, and occupies it with a Piece (e.g. a Knight), before leaping to capture their Piece, you must ask yourself if you will be worse off if their supporting Pawn (d5/d4) recaptures and is left as an Advanced Pawn, on the former Outpost square.

H&M-S say "the answer must be sought mainly in two factors":

  1. What is the relative state of development? Will your opponent be able to support his Advanced Pawn (via f2-f4, for White; ...f7-f5, for Black)? And, if so, can your opponent continue with a regulation king-side pawn storm (by advancing his Mobile Pawn Wing)?

  2. What if you capture the Outpost Piece, and then attack their Advanced Pawn? If you capture the Outpost Piece, that enables their supporting Pawn to replace it, becoming an Advanced Pawn.

    Will you suffer through the necessary act of capturing that Pawn (to leave it means to suffer from the cramp it exerts in your territory)? The potential benefit is from gaining a Half-Open File, in your favor; the risk is that you weaken the structure of the Kingside Pawns in front of your Castled King, which any decent opponent will try to exploit.

This example looks at what happened when Black captured White's Knight, on the e5-Outpost, which enabled White to gain the Advanced Pawn, on e5.

Beneath the ChessFlash viewer, you'll find my analysis of the position featured in Point Count Chess:
  1. PCC, p.56, No. 34, after 11.Ne5
  2. Result of the Black's decision to capture White's Ne5.
  3. PGN

When a Pawn Occupying the Station is more menacing
My Analysis

Position #1, My Analysis
PCC, p.34, No. 56, after 11.Ne5

After: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 Be7 6.Nf3 O-O 7.Rc1 c6 8.Bd3 a6 9.cxd5 cxd5 10.O-O b5 11.Ne5

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Page 56
After: 11.Ne5

1. White's e5-Outpost is created

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - 1. White's e5-Outpost is created, After 3...d5 - No Highlights
1. White's e5-Outpost is created,
After: 3...d5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - 1. White's e5-Outpost is created, After 3...d5
1. White's e5-Outpost is created,
After: 3...d5

White effectively gains the e5-Outpost when Black's d-Pawn launches forward to d5 (3...d7-d5). This is a familiar situation, whereby Black's Nf6 blocks his f-Pawn from being able to displace any White Piece that gets to occupy the e5-Outpost.

2. White occupies his e5-Outpost

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - 2. White occupies his e5-Outpost, After 11.Ne5 - No Highlights
2. White occupies his e5-Outpost,
After: 11.Ne5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - 2. White occupies his e5-Outpost, After 11.Ne5
2. White occupies his e5-Outpost,
After: 11.Ne5

White occupies his e5-Outpost, with the Kingside Knight (11.Nf3-e5) after the c-file Pawns have exchanged across onto the d-file (9.c4xd5 c6xd5), and after having Castled Kingside (10.O-O).

3. Black's Dilemma: "Should Black capture White's Nd5?"

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Black's Dilemma: Should Black capture White's Nd5?, After 11.Ne5 - No Highlights
3. Black's Dilemma: "Should Black capture White's Nd5?",
After: 11.Ne5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Black's Dilemma: Should Black capture White's Nd5?, After 11.Ne5
3. Black's Dilemma: "Should Black capture White's Nd5?",
After: 11.Ne5

This is where H&M-S begin their examination of Black's decision about whether it's a good idea to capture White's Ne5 (...Nd7xe5), which occupies the e5-Outpost ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - 3. Black's Dilemma: Is it safe to allow White's d4-Pawn occupy the e5-square?, After 11.Ne5 - No Highlights
3. Black's Dilemma: Is it safe to
allow White's d4-Pawn occupy
the e5-square?,
After: 11.Ne5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - 3. Black's Dilemma: Is it safe to allow White's d4-Pawn occupy the e5-square?, After 11.Ne5
3. Black's Dilemma: Is it safe to
allow White's d4-Pawn occupy
the e5-square?,
After: 11.Ne5

Black must decide whether it's acceptable, or "safe enough", for White's Nd5 to be replaced by his d4-Pawn (...Nd7xe5, followed by d4xe5).


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The Result of When a Pawn Occupying
the Station is more menacing...

In the game, Black chose to capture White's Ne5, with the predicted White response of capturing back with his d4-Pawn ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, Black lets White's d-Pawn occupy the e5-Outpost, After 11...Nxe5 12.dxe5 - No Highlights
(RESULT) Black lets White's d-Pawn occupy the e5-Outpost,
After: 11...Nxe5 12.dxe5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, Black lets White's d-Pawn occupy the e5-Outpost, After 11...Nxe5 12.dxe5
(RESULT) Black lets White's d-Pawn occupy the e5-Outpost,
After: 11...Nxe5 12.dxe5

In this specific situation / position, White benefits from the Pawn on the e5-Outpost in a couple of ways ...

Result for White #1: Black's Bishop is "Bad"

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #1: Black's Bad Bishop, After: 13...Bb7 - No Highlights
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #1: Black's Bad Bishop,
After: 13...Bb7
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #1: Black's Bad Bishop, After: 13...Bb7
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #1: Black's Bad Bishop,
After: 13...Bb7

First, as seen after 13...Bc8-b7, Black's light-Bishop has become a particularly Bad Bishop, trapped in his Queenside quadrant by his own side's Pawns (a6, b5, d5 & e6). Unless Black can free his light-Bishop, its restricted mobility is great news for White's development plans.

Result for White #2: White gets a Strong Fourth Rank Outpost

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #2: White's Strong d4-Outpost, After: 13...Bb7 - No Highlights
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #2: White gains a
Strong d4-Outpost,
After: 13...Bb7
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #2: White's Strong d4-Outpost, After: 15.Nd5
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #2: White gains a
Strong d4-Outpost,
After: 14.Ne2 → 15.Nd4

Second, with Black's e6-Pawn now blocked, and Black's no longer having a Pawn on the c-file, there is no Pawn threat to dislodge any White Piece that gets to occupy what has become a Strong * Fourth Rank Outpost (d4).

White knows this, and wastes no time installing his remaining Knight there, in consecutive moves (14.Nc3-e215.Ne2-d4).

* White's d4-Outpost is "Strong", all the while Black's e6-Pawn remains blocked and unable to attack the d4-square.

Incidentally, looking at the image set (above-right), we see that White's Rc1 has been uncovered and benefits from being first to occupy the Open c-file, to have almost, but not quite yet, Control of the Open File.

Result for White #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side, After: 15.Nd5 - No Highlights
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side,
After: 15.Nd5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side, After: 15.Nd5
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side,
After: 15.Nd5

H&M-S point out that Black will have to advance his Kingside Pawns to deal with White's Pawn on the e5-Outpost. But, this very act will give Black a Compromised King-side, as the Pawn(s) he moves are in front of his Castled King.

In the game, Black advances his g-Pawn (15...g7-g6) ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side, After 15...g6 - No Highlights
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side,
After: 15...g6
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side, After 15...g6
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side,
After: 15...g6

The purpose of the move is to defend the h7-Pawn against the threat of Be3xh7, and also to keep White's Queen out of the h5-square (Qd1-h5).

However, the result is to create two Holes (red squares) in critical positions (f6 & h6, in front of Black's Castled King), which White exploits immediately, with his dark-Bishop (see image set, below) ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side, After 16.Bh6 - No Highlights
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side,
After: 16.Bh6
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side, After 16.Bh6
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side,
After: 16.Bh6

The attack from White's Bh6 (16.Bf4-h6), on Black's Rf8, leads to the exchange of Rooks (16...Rf8-c8 17.Rc1xc8+ Qb8xc8).

And, following on from that, White's Mobile Pawn Wing, on the Kingside, begins its march toward Black's Compromised King-side ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side, After 19.g4 - No Highlights
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side,
After: 18.f4 → 19.g4
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 34 - Result, White's e5-Outpost, Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side, After 19.g4
(RESULT) White's e5-Outpost
Benefit #3: Black will have to Compromise his King-side,
After: 18.f4 → 19.g4

So, in hindsight, we can answer those two questions for Black:

  1. What is the relative state of development? White was able to support his e5-Pawn, first with his dark-Bishop (after 13.Bg5-f4), and later with his f-Pawn (after 18.f2-f4). White was also able to continue with a "regulation Pawn Storm", by advancing his Mobile Pawn Wing (18.f2-f419.g2-g4).

    Because of these factors, Black should have begun to caution against capturing White's Knight, on the e5-Outpost.


  2. What if you capture the Outpost Piece, and then attack their Advanced Pawn? After White's Pawn landed on e5, Black had to Compromise his King-side (15...g7-g6), in order to hold back the threat from White's Pieces (dark-Bishop & Queen, specifically). The advance of Black's g-Pawn created the significant Hole at h6, which White's dark-Bishop was able to exploit (16.Bf4-h6).

    With caution already raised after the first question, upon answering this second question, Black would have been best advised NOT to capture Whtie's Knight, on the e5-Outpost..

And that pretty much sums up the need to think through whether it's safe to capture an enemy Outpost. You don't want to exchange their Piece, only for it to be replaced by a more menacing Pawn.


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PGN

[Event "Utrecht (Netherlands)"]
[Site "It"]
[Date "1928"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "1-0"] [White "Max Euwe"]
[Black "Efim Bogoljubov"]
[ECO "D66"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "65"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 Be7 6.Nf3 O-O 7.Rc1 c6 8.Bd3 a6 9.cxd5 cxd5 10.O-O b5 11.Ne5 {PCC p.56 No. 34} Nxe5 12.dxe5 Nd7 13.Bf4 Bb7 14.Ne2 Qb8 15.Nd4 g6 16.Bh6 Rc8 17.Rxc8+ Qxc8 18.f4 Nc5 19.g4 Nxd3 20.Qxd3 Qc4 21.Qd2 Bb4 22.Qf2 Qd3 23.f5 Qe4 24.Qg3 exf5 25.gxf5 Bf8 26.Bxf8 Rxf8 27.f6 h5 28.Qg5 Qg4+ 29.Qxg4 hxg4 30.e6 Kh7 31.e7 Re8 32.Rc1 Kh6 33.Ne6 1-0

End.

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