Sunday, 31 May 2020

064. The Box of Pawns

Black: bobby fissure - thematic tournament,, 2007

In a just-finished game I had the small pleasure of creating the “box of pawns”. Two sets of doubled pawns on adjacent files – created by two pawns, three files apart, capturing towards each other – can sometimes be arranged in a little square or “box”. In my game this occurred on e4, e5, f4 and f5. Unfortunately, it was in a Sicilian and hence not blog relevant.

Not wishing to be deterred, I've searched through my game databases looking for other instances and found three more. Two were “over the board” and hence not applicable either, but there was one in an online game. It was only an incidental box, lasting for a single ply, as a pawn recapture removed it at once. Nevertheless, a box is a box, so here it is in all its temporary glory:

The game itself isn't too interesting. I was already winning when my opponent left the queen en prise. And it featured the KGA Modern Defence with 3...d5. I tend to roll my eyes, often literally, whenever this line is proposed as an “antidote” to the King's Gambit. Sure, it's perfectly fine for Black, who can look forward to theoretical equality. But Black can count on at least that with virtually any defence to the King's Gambit.

So, in effect, the Modern means returning a dubiously donated pawn for an equality Black already has anyway. I'm rolling my eyes now just at the thought of it.


  1. Eric Rosen calls this a "pawn cube", and sometimes gets it via the Stafford Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nc6 4.Nxc6 dxc6), where if Black plays ...Bc5-b6, Bxb6 and ...axb6 gives Black pawns on b6, c6, b7 and c7. I'm sure I saw one of these in a line of the From's Gambit (I think it was the sideline 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 Nc6, where presumably White plays e4, d4, c4, and meets ...d5 with cxd5).

    1. Hi Ian :)

      Well, I suppose “cube” and “box” are much the same. But I prefer box. The box of pawns sounds more potent and arcane.

      From my own experience, it most often arises as b7/c7/c6/b6. A database search brings up a lot of ...Bc5 Scotch and Spanish (without ...a7-a6).

      Ah, the Concealed From (as Stefan Bücker called it). I've always done well with that; e.g. 1 f4 e5 2 fxe5 Nc6 3 Nf3 g5 4 d4 g4 5 d5? gxf3 6 dxc6 Qh4+ 7 g3 Qe4 8 Nd2? f2+ 9 Kxf2 Bc5+ 10 Ke1 Qxh1 11 Nf3 dxc6 12 Bg5 Bh3 0-1 N.Moss-J.Tait Nottingham 1992.