Learning Chess Part I - Open/Closed Games

Feb 2, 2010, 8:37 PM |

Unlike my other blogs, I hope to make this collection in hopes to teach others my own knowledge, learn more myself, and help people gain a basic knowledge of intermediate/advanced tools that could be used when playing and improving.

As most players I have played on this site seem to be quite skillful, oftentimes belonging in a higher rating than it shows (at least in live chess), my material is for those who are having problems getting up there. (Up there is referring to about 14-1500.)

With this, hopefully I can establish some format that achieves maximum benefit for the reader in understanding and learning. If you have any ideas of how I might be able to do this, please respond!

To start off with my very first of the series. We can start with a rather simple concept, and a personal favorite:

------Open games versus closed games-------

In order to understand how to make use of the information that will be presented shortly, one must know the terms themselves. Open games have an open center, in reference to the pawn structures in the game, as compared to closed games, which are "closed" or more clearly, restricting much movement of other pieces.

An Example of an "Open" Game















An Example of a "Closed" Game







 These two examples are very exaggerated cases of an open and closed game, but is merely meant to demonstrate what they are.  So, you know the term by now, but what's the purpose of knowing it?

 The simple quick-cut answer: To determine Bishop vs. Knight.  Taking a look at the open game, which piece is maximizing it's use? The Bishops or Knights?....................Hopefully you came up with the Bishops as they are maintaining a strong hold across the board from a safe distance.

 Now we take a brief look at the closed game. Clearly the bishops are having a hard time making themselves useful, but bless them they're trying! Course it doesn't look like the Knights are doing much either right? Well maybe for now, but closed games create (more often than open games) another term called an outpost.  An outpost is a square that can be held by a strong piece without needing to have much worry about being taken.

 Knights can make strong use of outpost points during closed games as they are capable of hopping inside, kind of like peeking inside the enemy territory.

  There are 2 outpost points in this closed games that could be made of use here. Can you find them?.....................The two that I am aware of is the one at f6 and b3.  This is what Dozy made use of during the game and beat me to the punch of reaching it, making the solid win for him as White.

 A Closed Game Played Out


 How can you use this in your own games? Well, although technically Knights and Bishops are worth the same amount, their importance in your specific game maybe determined by this very factor!  This should help those who need to decide whether to do a trade of these pieces or not in such situations.
------Practicing For Yourself!------

 Analyze this diagram below and determine whether the game is open or closed and if the trade on f6 is worth it. The main target is the Knight on f6 and it's White's (your) move:
........This game is definitely more on the open ended side.  Although taking the Knight would be doubling up Black's Pawns, the trade may not actually be worth it, as Bishops can serve a larger purpose in this game than the Knight (at least up to this point in the game).

Now I personally like closed games, so I try making them! If you DON'T like them, this may help in realizing how to stay out of it. If you DO like them, this is a simple set up for you. Smile Either way, I suggest anyone learning this idea of open/closed games to try out the puzzle below and forcing a closed game! (Note: This, as shown below, CAN be started in determining an open/closed game as early as move 3!)


And that's it! If you already knew all this stuff, I'm surprised you read through this far. But to those who are new to the idea, I hope you are able to use these well known concepts and develop them into your own games!

 In Part II, I hope to go over some basic ideas of Light Squares and Dark Squares! (So save those Bishops till then!) If you want to post a good game that demonstrates this concept, please feel free in doing so!