In the present issue of "Modern Chess", we continue to examine the positions with "isolani". The first artcile of the course was designed to deal with three of the most important attacking possibilities in such positions - rook transfer to the kingside, knight sacrifice on "f7" square and pushing of the isolated pawn.
In this article, I am going to bring to your attention another three fundamental attacking ideas for the side which plays with an isolated queen's pawn - transition into symmetrical pawn structure, advance of the "f" pawn and advance of the "h" pawn.
1) Transition into symmetrical pawn structure.
The transition into symmetrical pawn structure is a topic, the importance of which is often underestimated in the chess literature. Such transition can arise in positions where the piece which blockades the isolated pawn is exchanged. When we play a position with an "isolani", the possibility of transition into symmetrical pawn structure after an exchange on "d5" ("d4") is always in the air and we should consider it in every moment. That's why we are obliged to examine a new pawn structure, even though it doesn't seem to have anything in common with the isolated pawn. Under what circumstances we should give preference to the symmetrical pawn structure? That is the question I am most often confronted to, when explaining the present topic to my students. Despite of the fact that the answer is rather complex, I will point out some general directions. Those of you who have read the first article of the course know that when we play with an isolated pawn, our long-term plan is to launch a kingside attack. According to the basic chess principles, side attacks are successful when the situation in the center is stable. In the same line of thoughts, the transition into symmetrical pawn structure favours the side which is planning to attack the opponent's king. On the other hand, in positions with symmetrical pawn structure, our typical space advantage doesn't exist anymore. Moreover, there are is no pressure on the "e" file. In order to use the advantages of the symmetrical pawn structure, we should be ahead in the development and our pieces must be more active. Only in these cases, we can organize a strong kingside attack which compensates the fact that the space advantage is lost. Also, it's important to mention that the transposition to symmetrical pawn structure is generally favourable when the opponent's kingside is weakened. The abovementioned ideas are brilliantly illustrated by the game Honfi - Dorfman played in 1976. Let's take a look at that instructive win of GM Karoly Honfi (on the picture below)