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Hanging Pawns
Compiled by Benzol

A pair of pawns on adjacent files that are separated from all other pawns are known as "Hanging Pawns" (a term coined by Steinitz).

Hanging pawns possess strengths and weaknesses.

The elements of strength include the possibility of opening files through their advance and with this comes an increase in space, and the possibility of controlling key squares that can be used as outposts for Knights and Bishops.

On the other hand they can also be weak. They can only be defended by pieces. This vulnerability can be exploited by attacking them with pieces, forcing the opponent to protect them with pieces. The defending pieces can then be attacked and exchanged at a suitable moment and this can often result in the win of a pawn or forcing another pawn weakness elsewhere. They can also be weakened by forcing the advance of one of them leaving the other one backward and a hole into which a piece can be placed. A third way of exploiting their weakness is to attack them with a pawn of your own, this can force a pawn exchange that results in an isolated pawn.

The current view is that hanging pawns are weak if their side is behind in development but strong if their side is ahead in development.

These games illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the hanging pawns

O Bernstein vs Capablanca, 1914 
(D63) Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, 29 moves, 0-1

Karpov vs Smyslov, 1981 
(D11) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 32 moves, 1-0

Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1981 
(D58) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst, 43 moves, 0-1

Portisch vs Karpov, 1978 
(E54) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, 40 moves, 0-1

Vaganian vs Karpov, 1970 
(E12) Queen's Indian, 28 moves, 1-0

Karpov vs Yusupov, 1989
(D31) Queen's Gambit Declined, 58 moves, 1-0

Karpov vs I Morovic Fernandez, 1994
(E10) Queen's Pawn Game, 39 moves, 1-0

Gelfand vs Karpov, 1994 
(E54) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, 52 moves, 0-1

M Bertok vs Fischer, 1962 
(D59) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower, 31 moves, 0-1

Fischer vs Spassky, 1972 
(D59) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower, 41 moves, 1-0

F Visier Segovia vs Andersson, 1975
(E55) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, Bronstein Variation, 29 moves, 0-1

Sokolsky vs Botvinnik, 1938 
(D94) Grunfeld, 40 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs V Chekhover, 1935 
(A13) English, 43 moves, 1-0

Euwe vs W Winter, 1936
(D46) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 25 moves, 1-0

Euwe vs Reshevsky, 1953 
(E41) Nimzo-Indian, 39 moves, 0-1

Gligoric vs Portisch, 1968 
(E54) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, 32 moves, 1-0

Petrosian vs Geller, 1956 
(D34) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 73 moves, 1-0

Korchnoi vs Geller, 1971 
(D58) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst, 26 moves, 1-0

Romanishin vs Geller, 1981 
(D58) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst, 28 moves, 1-0

Pillsbury vs Halprin, 1898 
(C67) Ruy Lopez, 39 moves, 1-0

Nimzowitsch vs Tarrasch, 1914  
(D30) Queen's Gambit Declined, 32 moves, 0-1

Rubinstein vs Nimzowitsch, 1907  
(D32) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 44 moves, 0-1

Petrosian vs Hort, 1972 
(A15) English, 26 moves, 1-0

Bondarevsky vs Smyslov, 1950 
(E40) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, 51 moves, 0-1

Smyslov vs T Ernst, 1987 
(D41) Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 28 moves, 1-0

Smyslov vs Portisch, 1984
(D31) Queen's Gambit Declined, 28 moves, 1-0

Smyslov vs A Matanovic, 1965 
(E54) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, 41 moves, 1-0

Spassky vs Pachman, 1962 
(D59) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower, 32 moves, 1-0

Rubinstein vs Salwe, 1908  
(D33) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 38 moves, 1-0

Steinitz vs Anderssen, 1873 
(D55) Queen's Gambit Declined, 26 moves, 1-0

N Padevsky vs Keres, 1956 
(E47) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3, 36 moves, 1/2-1/2

31 games

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