31 ( +1 | -1 ) Queenside pawn majoritiesI know that a queenside pawn majority is considered to be an advantage, perhaps even winning in the endgame. In openings such as the Queen's Gambit Declined, I've found that Black can eventually simply take the pawn on c4 and get himself a queenside pawn majority. Why is this not generally recommended for Black?
275 ( +1 | -1 ) First off ...... I think it needs to be understood that by "queen side pawn majority" we are really thinking in terms of the pawn majority farther away from the kings, assuming the latter are on the same side. In most games, this will, of course, be the K-side, but it won't always be true.
We need also to reognise for the purposes of this discussion, that the majority will be able on its own to force the creation of a passed pawn. In the Exchange Ruy Lopez, for a counterexample, Black has a 4-3 majority on the Q-side, but as the c-pawns are doubled, with no pawns (of either side) on the d-file, this majority cannot, without aid, force the creation of a passed pawn. The difference is significant in that White need not worry (overmuch) about Black's Q-side.
The Q-side pawn majority does not, as a rule, exist in isolation. Much depends on the pawn structures of both sides as they stretch across the board, not to mention the relative activity of the pieces.
Apart from anything else, a central pawn majority can also be an asset, particularly in the early stages of the game. Many masters set quite a bit of store by this. Bent Larsen once remarked that he didn't like exchanging a central pawn for a flank one unless he got something extra into the bargain.
Queen's Gambit lines such as the Slav (Meran) and the Gambit Accepted will often lead to Black's possession of a Q-side pawn majority, but also a very powerful central majority owned by White - this whilst the endgame is still a distant prospect. Black has to survive the fierce attack White can be relied upon to mount before he can hope to realise his assets on the flank.
In some of the simpler QGD lines in which the centre is evenly contested, White has the prospect of mounting a Q-side minority attack against a somewhat immobilised Black majority. Consider this skeleton position (imagine other pieces developed on fairly normal squares): w With 1.b4 followed by 2.a4, White inaugurates an attack designed to leave Black with a backward pawn, something like this: w Black's weak c-pawn, sitting at the end of an open file occupied by enemy rooks would be in a very parlous state indeed! Black can resist this, of course, but it often comes down to a choice of weakness, such as an isolated pawn on the a- or b-file, or maybe an isolated queen pawn (IQP).
Don't get me wrong. I like queen side majorities. They can be fun, and hard to resist. But, like the bishop pair - probably even more so - it can be overrated. Cheers, Ion