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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Winning Pawn Structures

When in one of my recent CC games I ended up with an isolated QP, it wasn’t Nunn’s Chess Openings or MCO that I turned to. It was GM Alex Baburin’s book, Winning Pawn Structures.

Just to give you some idea of the value of this book, Baburin wrote in the preface that while he hoped it would be of some interest to his fellow professional players, he actually wrote it for the club player who wanted to know more about positional play.  I'd say this book is good for masters down to about 1400. It's going to take serious study, which will turn most players off right there, but he approaches the problem from the point of view that it’s a good idea to learn positional play by studying typical P-structures. In this case the P-structure is the IQP and he does an excellent job.

Baburin adds in the preface the observation that one side wins not because they just happen to get a winning P-formation by some lucky chance, but it’s done through better planning, superior strategy and more precise play.

The IQP occurs in a variety of openings: QGD, QGA, Nimzo-Indian, Sicilian, Caro-Kann so that makes this book an important opening book on several openings.There’s more though. It’s a manual on the middlegame and ending because Baburin also covers those aspects of the IQP. He discusses various strategies: White advances d4-d5, attack on f7, K-side attack (the R-lift, B-sac on h6 and Q-shift, h-Pawn battering ram, Q-side play and play on the c-file, play on the e-file anf he also adds a section on the disadvantages of the IQP.
In addition he discusses the endgame, not just in general, but endings with all the various pieces. And to round out the book he discusses hanging P’s, the isolated P-couple and changing the P-structure.

This book is a perfect example of how a chess book should be written and I highly recommend it. It will definitely help one win more games if they are willing to put in the effort to actually study it. Alas, I lost the game in question, but not because of the IQP or any fault of Baburin’s book. My opponent was higher rated than me and knows more about chess than I do so he won but he had to work for it.

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