It is axiom often taught to beginners: Passed pawns must be pushed. In this game, White is able to force through his d pawn and when it arrives at the 7th rank, Black is basically left helpless.

Markus Ragger is a talented Autrian grandmaster who has flirted with the magic rating threshold of 2700. In this game, he gets into a theoretical duel with the female half of the Polish Socko grandmasters (Bartosz and Monika). The result is an interesting game and an instructive example of the power of a passed pawn. 

Ragger, M. vs. Socko, M.
Graz Open A 2016 | Graz AUT | Round 8.5 | 18 Feb 2016 | ECO: D85 | 1-0
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. d4 c5 8. Rb1 By an unusual move order, the players have reached one of the Grunfeld's main tabiyas.
8... O-O 9. Be2 b6 This has always struck me as a bit passive
9... cxd4 I have played both this and Nc6 in this position before  )
9... Nc6  )
10. O-O Bb7 11. Qd3 Qc7 12. Bg5 Nc6 13. d5!? Very direct. White did not need to rush with this move, but it might be strong nonetheless
13... Ne5 14. Nxe5!?
14. Qe3 Looks more natural to me  )
14... Qxe5 15. f4 Qxc3 16. Bxe7 And now the fun begins!
16... Rfe8 17. d6 Qd4+ 18. Qxd4 Bxd4+ 19. Kh1 At this point, the players begin to exchange one blow after another. But ultimately, the pawn on d6 will carry the day.
19... Bxe4 20. Bb5 Reb8?!
20... Red8! This looks stronger to me. If Black could win the d6 pawn for just an exchange, she would be doing very well
21. Rbe1 f5 22. Bxd8 Rxd8 23. d7 Kf7 I would prefer Black's position -- a6 will come and d7 will fall  )
21. Rbe1 Bd5 22. d7 a6 23. Bd6! It's possible Black missed this move when she played Rbe8
23... Be6
23... axb5 Fails to:
24. Bxb8 Rxb8 25. Re8+ Winning  )
24. Bc6 Bf6 25. g4! White pays no heed to the rook on a8 and instead goes about opening the kingside for his rooks and aims to dislodge the bishop on e6.
25. f5 Was even stronger, but Ragger's move is quite sufficient  )
25... Rd8 Now f5 would fail, but...
26. g5! Forces the other bishop back
26... Bc3 27. Rxe6! fxe6 28. Rd1! And oddly enough, despite being up an exchange and a pawn, Black can just resign. White's d7 pawn is too strong and his pieces are too active. Right away, Bxa8 is a big threat
28... Kf7 29. Bc7
29. Bxa8 Was also good enough
29... Rxa8 30. Bc7  )
29... Ke7 30. Bxa8 Rxd7 31. Rxd7+ Kxd7 32. Be5 A bit too fancy for my liking, but definitely winning. The rest requires no comment
32. Bxb6 Wins easily.  )
32... Be1 33. Kg2 b5 34. Kf3 a5 35. Ke2 Bh4 36. Bb7 a4 37. Be4 b4 38. Bc2 Kc6 39. Bxa4+ Kd5 40. Ke3 c4 41. Bd1 Be1 42. Bf3+ Kc5 43. Bd4+ Kd6 44. Ke4 Bd2 45. Be2 c3 46. Bd1 Be1 47. Bb3 Bd2 48. Bf2 Bc1 49. Be3 Bb2 50. Bc2


Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 7 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.