Imagine a pawn with bulging eyes, outstretched hands and with an open jaw trying to land a bite on fellow pieces. How funny would it be if pieces could actually roam around the board like zombies when they become “infected”?


Odd, isn’t it? It’s good that there weren’t any zombie-based movies a millennium (or so) ago, when the inventors of chess were pondering about which pieces would go into the board.



I read a chapter from this interesting book called “Under the Surface” (Quality Chess) by GM Jan Markos on “Infected Pieces” a couple of nights ago when I was alone in my house. Only the cold monsoon winds were around to give me company, as I was gulping down one page after another until I landed on that fateful page (below). Ever since then the image of a zombie pawn wouldn’t leave my mind, and it always seems to be floating around even when I play online these days.



Let’s define a Zombie Pawn – A zombie pawn is a weak pawn that is so infected that it creates other direct or indirect weakness in your position.

Take this position for example:

Black’s obvious weakness is the c6 pawn. In our case, we’re going to call this pawn a Zombie pawn, because it not only needs a Rook to always defend it, but creates other problems for black to defend – that is lack of space, which again leads to another problem – Restricted piece movement.
In the game, black tried its best to chase away the enemy rook that’s trying to invade the 7th rank and protect the weak pawn by bringing another piece to the defense.

The book was well crafted with fun and easy examples to relate to. You’ll fall in love with the author’s ability to convey complex ideas through simple stories and examples.
Under the Surface by Grandmaster Jan Marcos & Published by Quality Chess.
One day I tried to incorporate the idea in my own games and ended up cooking a little positional masterpiece. Here’s the game and my annotations below. (I played black)

Thank you for reading!

This is Arun from Forward Chess team signing off for now. See you next time!

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Arun J