Today's post will be relatively short, but important: a position dictates the posible plans that can be taken. This may mean playing on the correct wing when the center is locked, or the more subtle use of pawns to cramp the enemy position, or perhaps simply cutting off counterplay, avoiding trades, and slowly expanding in space until the opposition suffocates to death.
Determining a correct plan based on a position is certainly something I need to work on, so perhaps studying the following examples will help.
The following three diagrams are taken from Pachman's book. The explanations are in my words, but are largely based on ideas from his book.
Black is up three pawns, but white's pieces are much better developed. The position calls for immediate dynamic play by white, who must prove that active pieces are superior to a material lead. Black must do the opposite--developing as quickly as possible, and trading down to an endgame with extra passed pawns.
Ideas for white include Ng5 to target the f7 and h7 squares around the black king, as well as Bb2, to target g7. The queen will naturally magnify such threats, forcing black to compromise the structure of the pawns around his king.
Ideas for black include ...Ng6, ...Nf5, or perhaps ...Nd5, depending on white's attack. ...b6 and ...Bb7 are important developmental moves as well. If black can develop with tempo (i.e. by attacking the queen while developing or threatening to trade off pieces), black's convoluted position will likely unravel, and the simple idea of trading equal material will prevail.
In this next position, white has more kingside space, whereas the queenside is clearly black's realm. White's e-pawn cramps black's position on the kingside, and isn't easy to target. The white bishops are aimed dangerously at black's king, and the knight is close enough to join the action as well.
Black, on the other hand, has a head start in his attack, and a pawn majority. By expanding quickly on the queenside, he will try to create large enough threats that white will not have time to attack black's king, at the risk of white's army getting wiped out from behind.
The kings are castled in opposite corners: in not too many moves, the center will be torn open like a pinata pieces will be thrown every which way. The semi-open c file will serve useful for black's rooks, while black's loose d-pawn may serve as a target for white.
On the other hand, white's knights serve as good defenders, but may be kicked about by black's a and b pawns. The white bishops are currently more active, but an open center will guarantee plenty of area to roam for black's bishops as well. White's plans revolve around opening up lines to black's king by pushing the f, g, and h pawns and exchanging away black's defenses.