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:
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
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.