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    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Jan 2004

    Playing against IQPs

    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, and others by sustained positional pressure, e.g. Karpov – Hansen, Wijk aan Zee 1988.
    • Certainly, Black must watch out for a deadly d5 by White, e.g. Kamsky – Short (cand.) (1/2) (PCA) 1994, 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.
    • But in another game in the match, 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.
    • 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 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.
    • 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).
    • 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 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), 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.
    Last edited by Capablanca-Fan; 28-10-2007 at 10:29 AM.
    “The destructive capacity of the individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and that destructive capacity necessarily expands, too, pari passu.”—Paul Johnson, Modern Times, 1983.

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