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A pawn complex is a structure of pawns located on the same-colored square.

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 k+ c8 r d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 r 8
7 a7 b7 p c7 d7 e7 f7 p g7 b h7 p 7
6 a6 p b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 n g6 p h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 P 5
4 a4 b4 c4 P d4 e4 P f4 Q g4 h4 4
3 a3 q b3 P c3 B d3 P e3 f3 P g3 h3 3
2 a2 P b2 c2 N d2 e2 f2 g2 P h2 2
1 a1 b1 K c1 d1 R e1 f1 g1 h1 R 1
a b c d e f g h
Maybe good pawn complex


Pawn complexes are a double-edged sword. Since they come in diagonals, they defend each other and provide for a solid foundation. The opposite bishop enjoys roaming freely without obstruction. But on the other hand, they block the bishop that resides on the same squares. It is trapped and has no way to move, reducing its value to a morsel. And like the pawn chain, they are just slightly more passive. The trapping is why pawn complexes are considered bad.

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 B d4 e4 P f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 N b3 P c3 d3 P e3 f3 P g3 h3 P 3
2 a2 P b2 B c2 P d2 Q e2 f2 N g2 h2 2
1 a1 R b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 R g1 K h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Pawn complex

There is a way to use pawn complexes correctly. If you have traded your dark-squared bishop, for example, you can put all your pawns on dark-squares. Since your dark-squared bishop is gone, then the trapped bishop disadvantage doesn't apply anymore. Your light-squared bishop can become active with all the open space, and none of your pieces have to suffer the consequences. You can also try this if your dark-squared is already developed out (though less effective). Although the dark-squared bishop is trapped outside of the safety of your territory, at least it is active for combat.