There are three primary types of positions in chess and it is very important to know which type of position you are in throughout your games. One type of position may have completely different ideas from another type of position and if you understand the type of position better than your opponent, this can be a key factor to winning the game. Also, certain openings create specific types of positions and recognizing these positions will give you a deeper comprehension of opening plans and propel you to a stronger level of play.
What are these three types of positions that we are talking about? They are closed, open and semi-open positions. Each type of position comes with its own possible plans and speed with which you need to execute these plans. Failing to follow these guidelines can cause you to fall into difficult situations that your opponent will have a much easier time capitalizing on. Each type of position has key differences from the other types and we’ll break these down right now. This article will talk about the generalities of each position and future articles will go over each position in more detail.
First is the closed position. A closed position is defined as a position with a locked pawn center and typically very few (if any) pawns have been traded. This position requires a lot of maneuvering with pieces, trying to get them to their most effective squares. The knights are also valuable in these positions because they are able to hop over locked pawns. In addition, there is a big emphasis in pawn movement. This is done in order to attack pawn chains, trade off pawns and open the position, create open files and to attack with pawn storms. The speed with which these plans are done does not need to be fast. This is because in a closed position things usually cannot be changed quickly. There are typically not too many tactics to watch out for because neither yourself nor the opponent can easily jump into each other’s position because of the locked pawn center and less freedom of piece movement. So you have more free time to carry out your plans.
Second is the semi-open position. A semi-open position is defined as a position with very few or no locked pawns and typically 1 or 2 pawns may have been traded. Most play in semi-open positions will revolve around pieces and pawns in combination with each other. This position does require a bit of care with regards to tactics because they are more likely due to the increased freedom of movement each side has with their pieces. This also means that the speed with which you try to accomplish your plans needs to usually be a bit quicker too. However, there is still usually time for some piece maneuvering to be done.
Third is the open position. An open position is defined as a position with no locked pawns and typically 3 or more pawns have been traded. The vast majority of play in open positions will involve pieces with a lot less emphasis on pawns because they are in less supply. These types of positions are usually full of tactical ideas because piece movement is at its highest at this point. Bishops are very valuable because their diagonals are wide open to be used effectively. There are less pawns on the board to block the pieces which allows them to move much more freely. Because of this, the speed with which you try to accomplish your plans needs to be quick or immediate. There is not much time to devote to multi-move piece maneuvering because our opponent can use their piece mobility to launch their own attack if we are not careful.
Now that we understand each type of position in general, what kind of specific things are possible in each of them? The next few articles in this series will look at each of the types of positions individually and we’ll get a deeper understanding of them: “Closed”, “Semi-Open” and “Open”.