Chess

TODAY Winning Pawn Structures (Batsford, pounds 15.99), by the originally Russian and now Irish grandmaster Alexander Baburin.

Baburin focuses on just one of these - the Isolated Queen's Pawn (IQP - see diagram). This may sound like rather a narrow remit. But in fact the IQP structure can arise naturally from all sorts of openings and for either colour. For example, White can get an IQP in many lines of the Queen's Gambit Accepted, Queen's Gambit Declined, Nimzo Indian, Panov Attack against the Caro Kann (1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 c4); or indeed the c3 Sicilian.

Baburin has divided his material into three sections. In the first, on "Advantages of the IQP", he examines in detail how how the main opening feature - easy White (assuming that it's he who has the IQP) development while Black's c8 bishop in particular may be hard to activate - can translate into either a quick d5 break before Black is properly organised, or an attack against the black king, which often focuses on the f7 square or is augmented by the advance of the h pawn after Black has played ...g6 - both merit separate chapters. There are also more positional approaches associated with the knight outposts on e5 and c5.

The second section treats the "Disadvantages of the IQP", which generally emerge more slowly as "Black" blockades and can then eventually attack it. There are chapters on both, with the typical endgames that can arise - which combinations of pieces are more or less favourable; and typical middlegames in which the attacking chances usually associated with the IQP have dissipated and all that's left is the structural weakness.

Finally, Part 3 treats the various transformations that may occur when, for example, White recaptures on c3, making the so-called hanging pawn pair on c3 and d4.

A large number of illustrated games, game extracts and exercises at the end of each of the three parts make this a most interesting and useful book, especially for those who play one of the myriad systems that lead to the IQP structure.

A Yusupov vs E Lobron Nussloch, 1996

This is a good example of what Black should avoid. The game ended:

19 d5! Na5 20 dxe6!! Nxb3 21 exf7+ Kxf7 22 Qc4+ Kg7 23 Ne5! Ng8 24 Rxd8 Qxd8 25 Qf7+ Kh8 26 Qxb3 Qd4 27 Re3! Rf8 28 Bxe7 1 - 0 .

Black was in terrible trouble after the thematic 19 d5!. If 20 ...Rxd3 21 exf7+ Kg7 22 fxe8Q Qxe8 23 Rxd3 Nxb3 24 Rde3 is very strong. At the end 28 ...Nxe7 29 Nf7+ kg7 30 Rxe7 is curtains.

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