View Full Version : Playing against IQPs

28-10-2007, 01:08 AM
Quite a lot written about IQPs is misleading, but looking at actual games should provide better guidance. If you want a whole book about this structure, see Baburin's Winning Pawn Structures.

The commonest advice is blockade a Pd4 with a Nd5 (here I am assuming that it's White with the IQP). But Black loses a lot this way, since this N is in his own half of the board, and White can easily work around it; it even shields the pawn from frontal attack. Sometimes White wins on by K-side attack, e.g. Gulko – Kaidanov, USA ch 1994 (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1054442), and others by sustained positional pressure, e.g. Karpov – Hansen, Wijk aan Zee 1988 (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1068692).

Certainly, Black must watch out for a deadly d5 by White, e.g. Kamsky – Short (cand.) (1/2) (PCA) 1994 (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1066732), which is why Black likes to blockade it. Indeed, even Karpov has fallen for d5 a few times, e.g. against Kamsky in their FIDE world championship match, 1994. (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1069346)

But in another game in the match (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1069340), Karpov improved, not by blockading with the N, but rerouting it to f5 to attack the IQP, then using the B to blockade.

Even the common advice to swap down into an endgame isn't necessarily great, because Black can even hold the dismal bad B v N endgame, if he's careful as Capablanca was against Flohr (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1044855).

No, an enemy IQP seems to be best exploited in a heavy pieces middlegame or endgame. Here, the rook can function as [/I]both blockader and attacker. Also, the defending heavy pieces often must be behind the P, so it becomes pinned and thus vulnerable to a pawn attack, e.g. in an ancient game of mine (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1450698)where 34. c4 attacked not one but two pinned IQPs. A classic game illustrating the drawbacks of the IQP with heavy pieces, including the pins, is Korchnoi – Karpov, World Championship Meran 1981 (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1068264).

The strength of a R as blockader, and the disadvantage of a heavy pieces for the IQP side, is also shown strongly when a B of the same colour as the IQP is added to both sides. This can't dislodge the R from its blockade, and Korchnoi couldn't defend this sort of position any better in a later game with Karpov (1988) (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1068610).

Even if the IQP can't be won, its defending heavy pieces are often too passive to cope with action elsewhere, e.g. Botvinnik – Zagoryansky, Sverdlovsk 1943 (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1032061) where the side playing against the IQP switched to a K-side attack.

Karpov showed the strength of heavy pieces against the IQP against Spassky (Montreal 1979 (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1068095)), even with a pair of Bs each as well. Here, like the Botvinnik game, Karpov tied down Spassky's majors then went for a K-side pawn storm. But when Spassky went pseudo-active with 33... g5, Karpov went pack to the IQP and expoited the usual pin with 36. e4.