In other words, the pawn structure is always the foundation over which the chess struggle will be fought, and moving a pawn will change that foundation. Hence, pawn moves must be considered very carefully. As Steinitz said, “Pawns don’t go backward, so move them reluctantly.” Yes, you must move pawns, but such a move must be made wisely with due consideration as to how it will change the battlefield terrain.
However, I need to emphasize a further note of caution. It is a basic principle of chess that the best way to meet a flank attack is to counterattack in the centre. This still holds true. So the centre is still of supreme importance. If a flank attack is to be launched, you must not do so if play can still take place in the centre. Therefore, for a flank attack to succeed, the centre must be closed. If the centre can be opened by your opponent, your attack will probably fail. The hypermodernists realized this of course, and therefore one of the important philosophies of hypermodern openings is for Black to attack the pawn stronghold that White has placed in the centre.
Again, we must return to a basic principle of chess: The best way to attack a pawn chain is at its base, not head on. Here we see Hannibal’s plan realized. If you can weaken the base of the pawn chain, then the whole chain is weakened. If White advances his pawns carelessly, as Black is enticing him to do, Black will hit the base of the pawn chain with a view to destroying the entire White pawn centre. He will occupy the holes created by White’s pawn advance, thus creating a marvelous platform for an attack on White’s king.
Of course, White can play this game too, so many hypermodern openings feature the attempt to control the centre from the flanks by both White and Black. This is chess at its most absorbing. It is highly positional chess. It features the attempt to control one or both of the long diagonals, often by fianchettoing a bishop. In some openings, such as the Pirc Defence, castling is not so important. The King’s Indian Defence, a typical hypermodern opening which is very aggressive in spirit. Other hypermodern openings are the Queen’s Indian, Nimzo-Indian, Grünfeld, Dutch, Réti, and the Alekhine, which takes the hypermodern principles to an extreme, and the English. There are others of course.