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How to win in middle game/endgame when you are up a pawn

Hello everyone,

I recently played a game where I managed to be up a pawn but many pieces were left on the board and there was no tactical ideas nor easy way to exchange pieces. I felt a little bit lost, without any obvious plan. The computer indicates a +1 advantage but what is the strategic plan to convert it ?


The position was the following : ibb.co/gmswpQg

Typically the way to win those kinds of positions is to build pressure.

To me, the a7 pawn is the clear target for white in the above position. The rook on a8 is extremely passive defending from behind and even if every black piece were defending it, if all yours attacked, you would be able to hit it more times than it could be defended.

The short term aim should probably be to fix the pawn, preferably on an opposite colour complex to the black bishop. After that, you just build pressure until it falls, leaving you with either one or two passed pawns of your own.

With a +1 engine analysis that doesn't necessarily translate to a win given best play but by applying pressure and having a clear plan of action it's easier to encourage and spot your opponents mistakes if they make them.

Looking at the position Qe3 immediately jumps out at me. If black then plays something like Bc2 for instance you follow up with rd7 provoking A5 as a likely counter, followed up with A4 by you to fix the pawn.

Linking to the actual game would be easier and better. (Just copy the URL into the post.)

In this specific position, if you removed the queens and, maybe, the minor pieces, the game should be drawn due to the weak back rank. Although I like that you think in general rules, but in concrete situations, you must still calculate. I noticed that on move 27, you could have played Ne5 with a better exchange or placed piece. Then on move 29, you could have played Nd5, not quite as effective, exploiting the pin.

Post #3 has the correct idea, but I'm going to expand with general themes. As black is completely passive, the steps, after saving the queen, are:
1) reduce counterplay by creating luft for the king.
2) although exchanging pieces in normally a good idea, you often just chase the pieces around. The main reason for studying endgames is to know if and which pieces you should exchange.
3) as in any middlegame, try to win by applying pressure. In this position, it's either the advancing of the pawn majority, or pressure on a weakness, namely the weak a-pawn. As b1 is controlled, rooks belong behind passed pawns, attacking the a-pawn must to the goal. The rook then belongs on a dark square, out of the bishop's control. This leaves c7 and a5. I would choose a5 as if a) always attacks the pawn, b) pins the pawn to the rook so b4-b5... can be attempted, and c) the only advantage of c7, control of the seventh rank, is more easily neutralized.
4) if the opponent can handle your first threat, quickly shift to another weakness. Most of the time, the opponent won't be able to shift as quickly as you.

I think that Qd6 is the correct move as it gains a tempo, however following that with Qd3 and Qd4 is just useless.

I hope that my thought process in the specific position helps you formulate plans in other games.

Ok next time I will directly put the link to the game in question ! Thank you for your answers, it seems less confuse now !

This should be straightforward to win. You are a pawn up and your queen and rook stand active. Plan: trade queens, trade rooks, trade pieces. Then promote b-pawn to queen. First move Qd6.

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