Closed positions: Understand more, calculate less.
This was a satisfying win. It was evenly matched (1650 vs 1700) at a nice standard pace (10 minutes/+15s move). We reached a closed position. Lately I've been trying to understand more and calculate less in closed positions. I want to try to illustrate what I mean with this game and maybe you'll be inspired to try the same in your games. Enjoy!
Now as white I am ahead in development and I should probably try to develop the rest of my minor pieces as fast as possible.
White has done well maintaining the lead in development. But black has found a clever loophole! If he can keep the position closed his knights will be very strong and a lack of development usually isn't much of a problem in a closed game. My trump card is my fantastic dark bishop and some tempos I can cash in for other "closed game advantages" later.
At this point I was thinking black might go queenside (due to his well placed rook on the open h-file). The plan was win a tempo with b4!, gain some space with the a-pawn, pawn to f3, Bishop to f2, 0-0, rooks to a1 and b1 and then I could rip open the queenside with one of my pawns.
This was a bit of a surprise. With the rook off the h-file I now had an opportunity to change plans. Better for black might have been 15. ... Nh5!
Now I am up a pawn and have great endgame prospects! Black's queen is stuck. Black's knights are "well-placed" but they don't have any real threats.
Do you see it? Give it a try. White to move.
White's attack is simple and brutal.
So as you can see there wasn't a lot to calculate in the closed position struggle, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a lot to consider!
Here's the game start to finish.