How to Move Your A-Pawn

I picked up what I consider a rather valuable chunk from two master club players concerning the movement of your a-pawn: If you’ve got the initiative as White on the kingside and you have to respond to Black trying to muster counterplay on the queenside, you respond to his queenside expansion by playing a4! Whereas if you are Black waiting to create some counterplay against White while defending against his initiative on the queenside, you respond to a queenside expansion with the calm a6. Long story short: If you’re on the attacking side (having the initiative), move your pawns aggressively to claim more space; if you’re defending (not having the initiative), move your pawns defensively to protect the space in your terrain.

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3 Responses to How to Move Your A-Pawn

  1. AoxomoxoA says:

    At a side where you are under attack: dont move any pawns if not necessary. Usually every pawnmove is weakening the position.

  2. wang says:

    This is a good chunk indeed. Thanks for the information!

  3. Munich says:

    It is unfortunately not that easy. The move a2-a4 in response to a7-a6 prevents the pawn thrust b7-b5. So far so good.
    However, note that a2-a4 weakens the b4 square, where black could create a pin with a bishop on b4 against Nc3. Also a black knight jumping to b4 often enough threatens to jump to c2 (fork) or attack a white bishop on d3 (or threaten to jump to d3).
    Such a white bishop threatened on d3 (threatened by the black knight on b4) needs to move back to b1 (if white wants to keep it), but that means often enough to close in the white rook on a1, and white needs to play with a rook down for some time. This is trouble some where black tried the pawn pushs a6/b5, because usually the c-file is open or is going to be opened, and all rooks tend to meet on the c-file.

    If you consider a2-a4, make sure you consider if the square b4 could not be used as a black operating base.
    Otherwise it is often better to allow black the thrust a6 followed by b5, and then attack it with a2-a4. In that way black might need to respond b5-b4 and thus blocking the b4 square. This is usually followed by a6-a5, which leaves an operating square b5 for white’s pieces.

    But in such a case, you need to make sure the square c3 isnt severely weakened. As the square c3 is often well in whites territory this means white can often enough meet the threat that black places a piece on c3. Nevertheless, you need to consider all this as early as black starts a7-a6.

    After b7-b5 black might have a weak square c5. Maybe white could use this square and thus dont need to worry about a7-a6 followed by b7-b5 at all. Instead white could block the black b-pawn with b2-b4 and placing a piece on c5.

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