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A pawn island is a term used to describe a group of adjoining pawns. Each pawn island is separated by one or more files. The more pawn islands you have, the more delicate your position is.

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

The move fxg6 has divided the pawn island into two. Black now has three separate pawn islands, making black's position weak compared to the one large pawn island white has.


Pawns in pawn islands are close together to provide mutual defense and support. They can easily transition to a brawny Pawn chain. Together, they can issue a coordinated attack or secure themselves against enemies. But add a gap, and the pawns have no way of protecting each other. The union has split into two pawn islands. They become isolated between two detached worlds, and identifies closer with the frail Isolated pawn. This is why pawn islands are strong together, and why you need to eliminate the crevices between pawn islands.