Is the Isolated Queen Pawn Good or Bad?

Isolated Pawn

An isolated pawn is a pawn that has no pawns on its adjacent files. For instance, let’s say there is a white pawn on d4, and if there are no white pawns on both the c-file and the e-file, then the d4-pawn is an isolated pawn. To be more precise, in this case, it’s an Isolated Queen Pawn (IQP), which is the most commonly occurring isolated pawn.

The IQP arises in different chess openings, however, it occurs mostly in the Sicilian Defense. Therefore, it is important to know the fundamentals and get the basic knowledge of what openings will lead to an isolated queen pawn, before learning to handle IQP situations.

Isolated Queen Pawn (IQP) – Advantage or Disadvantage?

Many chess players have this major doubt – whether an isolated queen pawn (or in general, any isolated pawn) is advantageous or disadvantageous. Is it strong enough for a player (who has it) to use it to attack the opponent or is it weak so that the opponent can exploit it?

Well, the IQP may be very strong or very weak. When you have an IQP, it depends on the placement of your minor pieces around it. Let me show you an example:
isolated queen pawn White’s Perspective – Playing with the Isolated Pawn

Here, White has an IQP on d4. It can be good for him because it has the possibility of being an outpost for the knight on e5. Also, White is more flexible in the center as he has a better center control (his d4-pawn controls the c5- and e5-squares). Therefore, he has more potential to attack Black’s king.

Black’s Perspective – Playing against the Isolated Pawn

Conversely, Black has to play against the isolated pawn, trying to attack it, since he has less control over the center than White. He should stop the d4-pawn from moving forward and try to attack it with moves like, for instance, Nc6. He also has to think of ways to develop his light-squared bishop.

Considering all this, try to evaluate the position from both sides. Imagine you’re White, what would your plans be? After that, switch sides and try to think of a plan from Black’s side. After that, you can watch the instructive video lesson prepared by our guest coach FM Marko Makaj.


About the author

FM Marko Makaj
Marko Makaj is from Croatia. He is a FIDE Master with an ELO of around 2350 and a chess trainer. He has held this title since 2008. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have time to play in tournaments in order to achieve the title of IM or GM. He has been working as a coach for over 15 years and many of his students have achieved great results.

Below, you can find the various openings in which the isolated queen pawn occurs.

P.S. Did you like this lesson from Marko? What do you think about the IQP after watching this lesson? Feel free to write in the comments below. 🙂
how to analyze chess games

  • Anup rajawat

    Hello Igor , Can you please suggest any counter attacking opening against C4(English) opening ?

    • RCA_moderator

      Thanks for the question.
      GM Igor has a busy schedule so he may not be able to answer all your questions.

      But you can check out his opening courses

      Prasaadh | Support

  • Ding

    Hey Igor !! I have recently purchased defending champion from Your Website.I have some doubts regarding direct and indirect approach.Ques1).What will be white advantage in opening [Is it more extra control over center than Black] Or something Else ? Ques2).how we will come to know that we have equalised from black [ According to me , when we control equal squares in center ] or there is something else from which we will to know. Sir please do reply about my queries .

    • Hi Ding,

      1. Yes, usually greater control over central squares means that in general White’s activity is higher, and therefore White has advantage.

      2. In general, you are right.
      There’s also an additional useful idea. In the openings resulted from 1.e4 move, if Black manages to exchange White’s e4-pawn (without any other concessions for Black) – Black equalised the game.
      Similarly, in 1.d4 openings, Black’s task is to trade off the d4-pawn.

      Best of luck!

  • male Gupta

    dear igor sir yesterday i see that article and see this video completely it was just fatnastic too see this one is made my marko makaj awesome thankss alot for this vidoe and topic sir you are the best as usual.

  • male Gupta

    dear sir in january 2018 i am plannning to play 4 tournaments in india in chennai,bangalore tamilnadu vishakapatnam below 1500 to below 1900 please give mei suggestion how to prepare for my opponents the tournaments has 9 rounds in 4 days.thnkss.

    • Hi,

      You have intensive chess schedule.
      In the course “The Grandmaster’s Secrets” there’s detailed explanation of how to prepare for a tournament. Just follow it.

      Good luck for your tournaments!

      • male Gupta

        thxx sir a lot you ar e the best can you give mei more special secret recommendation on hiow to prepare against low rated players i had already seen couple of times gm secrets course.recomendations thnkyu.

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