The Most Common Pawn Structure: Piece Placement

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Piece placementAs covered in previous articles, the most common pawn structure in chess is the “Isolated Queen Pawn”, which can be reached from many different openings. In this article, we are going to see what the optimal piece placements are for both the player with the isolated queen pawn and the player fighting against the isolated queen pawn.


As the previous article in this series described, the player with the isolated queen pawn should be trying to use his extra space in the center to attack on the kingside. Now that we know the plan, the best piece placement should revolve around us attacking the kingside.

IQP Owner Piece Placement

We can see an example of optimal piece placement in the position above. Each piece has its own respective function in the position. White’s bishop on c2 is forming a battery with the Queen on d3, aiming towards White’s kingside, forcing the weakening g6 move. The knight on e5 is very strong, reaching towards the kingside (specifically the f7 and g6 squares) and queenside at the same time. The knight on c3 is fighting against Black’s control of d5 a bit, but can also swing over to the kingside quickly as well with Ne4-Ng3 if necessary. The bishop on g5 is pinning the knight on f6 and is also ready to hop into h6 to take advantage of Black’s weakened dark squares on his kingside. Both rooks on d1 and e1 are controlling the central files very well too. From this position, White could increase his attack even more with the pawn push 1. h4! followed by h5 in the near future, trying to crack open Black’s kingside. This would be a very dangerous position for Black to play.


We also previously mentioned that the player fighting against the isolated queen pawn should be controlling the square in front of the pawn and attacking it from the front and the sides. With that plan in mind, the best piece placement should be more of a defensive nature, focusing on making the isolated queen pawn a long-lasting weakness.

Fighting IQP Piece Placement

In the position above we can see a great set-up for the player fighting against the isolated queen pawn. At this point, Black has done a great job, having traded off two pieces so far. His knight on d5 is blockading White’s isolated pawn excellently. The bishop on f6 is attacking the pawn from the side and his d8 rook is aiming towards the d4 pawn as well. The Queen and c8 rook are controlling the c-file very well. From this position Black should be trying to trade even more pieces by making the move 1…Qc2! offering a queen trade or else taking the b2 pawn next move. White would have a hard time in the position at that point.

Now that we know the advantages and disadvantages of the isolated queen pawn, the plans with the position and the best piece placements, then we are well prepared to play both sides of the position!

Read more about the isolated queen pawn structure by clicking here: “The Most Common Pawn Structure: Plans”.


I learned a lot about how to play positional chess by watching this video!

Click here to access the “Positional Chess Guide” DVD