Book Reviews,  Chess

Pawn Power in Chess

After the last Grenke Chess Tournament I have analysed my games and among many others, I have detected two problematic areas to improve:

The first one was on pawn structures and the latter on calculation of variations. As it is sometimes best to return to the beginning, I have read Hans Kmoch’s Pawn Power in Chess, which is very elementary in context, but highly advanced in technique. When it comes to calculation of variations, I have realised that the problem not only lies on the lack of knowledge, but also in the way we think. So I have applied the principles of behavioural finance to chess through Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. Lastly, I have just finished Alexander Kotov’s valuable book of The Science of Strategy. Through these three books I can say that I have enhanced my understanding considerably, but I am aware that it takes time to apply it smoothly. You can click on the relevant links for my reviews.

Pawn Power in Chess

Hans KMOCH [1]


In his book, dated back to 1752, Philidor had described the pawns as the soul of the chess as such in original: “… les Pions. Ils sont l’âme des Echechs.”. 

Than Hans Kmoch explains in his book this principle in detail, starting with building a terminology of his own. I found some of the terms very appropriate and needed to comprehend the given situation, but some invented words not that useful. 

The book is constructed on three pillars: The elements of pawn play, pawns and pieces, and finally the third chapter as pawn power in the game. He isolates pawn play into its elements and elaborate on their various aspects. 


Although the book is originally written in German and this version is not a direct translation, I can say that the context is very beneficial. Fundamentals of pawn play and the basic formations are explained with diagrams and relevant strategic ideas related to the structure analysed with various parties. 

When it comes to critics: I was not pleased with the books descriptive notation, but as I was open to learn something new (which is actually very old in this sense) I showed patience and endurance.  Besides I think its in a way richness. Secondly, as I mentioned before invented vocabulary was at times confusing and hindering. But some are really good.  

I wish you a pleasant reading.

Ergun UNUTMAZ, 28.02.2020


[1] Hans KMOCH, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, the United States, First edition 1990.

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