A closed position is defined as a position with a locked pawn center and typically very few (if any) pawns have been traded. This type of position plays much differently from the other two types of positions (semi-open and open) and it is important that you understand how to effectively play in this situation. We will talk about three factors involved in each of the position types and go into detail on each of them. The three factors we will cover are the plans with the position, the speed with which you need to act, and the pieces that are most effective.
In closed positions, many available plans can be carried out. Closed position plans involve a lot of pawn breaks and maneuvers. One option is pushing pawns and trading them in order to open files and give your pieces more freedom to move. You can also try to trade off your bad pieces for your opponent’s good pieces.
In the position above, we see that Black has a bad bishop on e7 blocked behind his c5, d6 and e5 pawns. In order to trade off this bad bishop, he can play 1…Bg5! This forces a trade of Black’s bad bishop for White’s good bishop. This is a very good situation for Black, because he would still have his good bishop and White would be left with only his bad bishop.
Speed is not a big factor in closed positions. This is because there is a lot less worry about your opponent’s pieces jumping into your side of the board and threatening your king. The locked pawns make this difficult to do quickly, so maneuvering your pieces and using pawn breaks are the better plans. There is no rush to do anything when a position is locked up. You can use your time effectively by slowly improving your position and placing your pieces on their best squares, followed by an eventual breakthrough or attack on your opponent’s king.
The most effective pieces in closed positions are knights. They are preferable to bishops because they have a much easier time moving around when there are locked pawns. Locked pawns are very bad for bishops and their diagonals. Bishops will be stuck behind the locked pawns while the knights are free to jump over them.
In the position to the above, we see that White’s knight can move around the position freely. He can jump into Black’s side of the board by playing Nd2-b1-a3-c2-b4-a6-c5. It’s a long route, but because of the closed position Black cannot do much to stop this plan. On the other hand, Black’s bishop is completely locked in behind his pawns. There are no available diagonals for his bishop to use and it is very ineffective.
Read more about the generalities of the three different types of chess positions by clicking here: “Three Chess Positions: Generalities”