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5 main pawns positions in the center. Part 1 of 2 (open and closed center only)

• #1

The nature of the topography plays a very important role in all army campaigns.  In the chess game, the place of the pawns in the center determines the topography in question.  If this is open, then the contest assumes the caracter of deep, encircling manoevres, powerfull, storming attacks, and if these are difficult to attain then one goes over to raids in depth on the flanks.  If the center is blocked by pawns then the pieces can only approach the enemy camp by the aid of a deep encircling movement from the flanks.  And finally if there are no pawn at all in the center, then the long-distance pieces as, for instance, Queens, Rooks and Bishops bombard opponent position from their own bases.

Consequently, when one wants to sketch out one's plan of play, then one is forced to give carefull heed of the pawn position in the center.  Should one for example try to carry out an encircling flank attack when the center is wide open, then the opponent may anticipate the attack by choosing a method of attack with direct bayonet-like thrusts.

In this article, we will shall study 5 main type of pawns positions in the center...

But in the part 1, we will only study the 2 first one the 3 other will be in part 2

Before to go into the heart of the subject, let's do a little explication of each pawn position that we will see

1-Closed center: Each player's pawns are locked with the others, thus blocking the lines for Bishops, Rooks and also the Queen.

2-Open center: There are no pawn in the center and the lines and diagonals are free for the play of the pieces.

3- Mobile center: One side has two or more united pawns in the center and endeavours to advance them.

4- Fixed center: The position of the pawns in the center is in one way or another fixed and it is really not easy to alter their position.

5- Dynamic center: The pawn position in the center is not fixed.  It may be perhaps built up in some particular way and the resulting position then transposes to one of the positions we have described above.

Ok, here we go:

1. THE CLOSED CENTER

Here, no lines exist along which the Rooks may operate; Bishop diagonals are blocked by either the enemy of their own pawns.  There remains therefore only one way out - play on the flanks.  Usually the one player tries to open up the game on the wings and develop complicated and far-sighted plans of attack.  In this case, the opponent can organize his defence passively or choose to organize a powerful counter-attack on the opposite wing.

Sometimes it is necessary to set in motion a counter-attack in the center.  With a closed centre this happens most often by a piece sacrifice, with the aim of breaking down the pawn position OR  else it may be done by blasting it with the aid of one or more pawns.

Look at this 3 following GrandMaster's examples in diagrams....

This game was played in a tournament at St-Petersburg in 1914 against Janowski and Nimzovich.  Here, White intends to advance his pawns on the King's wing and thus exploit the fact that the center is closed.  It is interesting to follow the play and see how skilfully Nimzovich prevents this, by building up blockade posts for the defence in the way of the White pawns.

IMPORTANT: DON'T FORGET TO LOOK ON THE COMMENTS WHO APPEAR IN THE BASE OF THE DIAGRAM AFTER SOMES MOVES!!

Yet another example...
This position occured in the historical game between the 2 genius, Alekhine and Capablanca in 1938 wich was played on the genius Cuban (Capablanca) fiftieth birthday!
Here the center is closed, It is interesting to observe that the only file that is open, the c-file, has no importance or bearing on the result, since neither side can make use of it.
Capablanca, on his last move, transferred the Knight to f7 so as to prepare the pawn attack on the King's wing by pushing g5 who's followed by the further transference of the Knight to g6.  How Alekhine prevents the carrying out of this plan has its own particular interest.
IMPORTANT: DON'T FORGET TO LOOK ON THE COMMENTS WHO APPEAR IN THE BASE OF THE DIAGRAM AFTER SOMES MOVES!!

The next example is most instructive for its correct insight into the importance of the center.  it is from the game Kotov vs Spassky in the USSR Championship, at Riga, in 1958.
In this game the center is completly blocked by the pawns of both players.  The plan of play is obvious:  White will set his pawns into motion on the King's wing, and Black on the Queenside.  Which will get there first?  The answer to this question is decisive in a marked degree for the outcome of the game.  Black has not succeeded in establishing points of defence to impede the way of the White pawns.  But this is not a vital necessity, as becomes clear in the course of play.  White can open up the h-file, but is not in a position to use this effectively enough.  Black in his turn will advance his pawns on the Queenside and, should the occasion arise, will sacrifice one of them.  The struggle is nicely balanced and it is full of interesting moments!!

IMPORTANT: DON'T FORGET TO LOOK ON THE COMMENTS WHO APPEAR IN THE BASE OF THE DIAGRAM AFTER SOMES MOVES!!

Now, let's make a brief summary of it.  In positions where the center is closed play must proceed slowly and is always situated on the flanks.  the player who is attacked organizes a counter-attack on the other wing and at the same time he constructs special obstructions to impede the oncoming infantry.  As quickly as the opportunity allows a counter-attack in the center must be carried out, almost always in conjunction with a sacrifice, sa as to get at the enemy King which eventually will be left in the lurch by its own pieces under the pressure of the attack.

2. THE OPEN CENTER

This situation is completly different to the previous one.  In the open center, it's now a question of bold cavalry charges, and of powerful storming attacks with whole armies.  It is interesting to observe that in the dawn of chess history, in the time of Morphy and Anderssen, the open center was always the objective aimed at.  Then players were fond of the direct bayonet attack without artful manoeuvres or roundabout ways.  Only with the coming of Steinitz did play in closed positions win many adherents.  How should one proceed when the opponent's center become an open one?
The attacking side usually tries to conjure up weaknesses in the opponent's position by piece play and then to attack these vulnerable points.  Usually, too, no pawn storms occur, since a pawn weakness is one's own position becomes very risky once the center is open.  It must be added that the offensive should only be carried out when and where the attacker has a clear advantage.
The defence aims at warding off the opponent's attack, while avoiding as much as possible weaknesses in the pawn position.  In the best of these cases the defence itself goes over to the counter-attack, or else exploits the opponent's excessively bold play to gain a material advantage.
Let's see 3 GrandMasters examples for illustrate this type of centre pawn...
In the first example, White has his pieces posted actively for attack on the King's wing.  To begin with, Alekhine creates a weakness in the pawn structure shielding Black's King.
IMPORTANT: DON'T FORGET TO LOOK ON THE COMMENTS WHO APPEAR IN THE BASE OF THE DIAGRAM AFTER SOMES MOVES!!

In the next exemple, there are praticly no pawns in the center.  White's pieces are more activly placed.  This affords Szabo the possibility of at once setting into motion an onslaught on the weak points in Black's position.  But where are the weak points?  It is not so easy for the reader to discern that the most vulnerable point in the Black King's castled position is f7.  White's ensuing energetic manoeuvre unveils this weakness.
IMPORTANT: DON'T FORGET TO LOOK ON THE COMMENTS WHO APPEAR IN THE BASE OF THE DIAGRAM AFTER SOMES MOVES!!

White to play!

We shall now quote an original example from the same tournament that the previous example.  It is true that White's centre pawn is of importance here, but this does not have a marked bearing on our appraisal of the position.  This position occured in the game Kotov-Matanovic.  White takes advantage of his opponent's positionnal weaknesses by some complicated manoeuvres.
IMPORTANT: DON'T FORGET TO LOOK ON THE COMMENTS WHO APPEAR IN THE BASE OF THE DIAGRAM AFTER SOMES MOVES!!

Let us summarize our conclusions.  In positions where the center is open play with the pieces takes place; on the other hand, as a rule, no pawn attacks, since pawn advances expose one's own King.  The attacker tries to create weaknesses in the enemy position and to exploit these to optain either a mating attack or else decisive material advantage.  The defence attempts to ward off the enemy attack and then to go over to the counter-attack.  Sometimes one can utilize the attacker's rashness or foolhardly taking-of-chances to optain a material superiority.  For finish, just note that is quite apparent that a position with an open pawn centre cannot transpose to a position with a closed center...But the opposite process is possible, sometimes it happens that the players both exchange off all their centre pawns and the closed centre breaks up.  In this way it is theoretically possible to bring about changes from closed to open centres.

Ok, today that is enough for me.  I will make the part 2 of 2 a little later.  This second part will talk about the mobile centre, the fixed centre and finally the dynamic centre!...
I hope you had enjoy it!   ;)  BYE
• #2

having a less than organized memory brings me to ask at each incident, however, is "back talk" allowed here? It seems to flow with your center/flank conversation.

The second game, Alekhine/Capablanca, it looks like move 16. ....Bxh4+ while not decisive for a win, does instead give Black a piece up in material.

But, I could be missing something. It looks like White would avoid g2 because after ... Qg4, the Bishop can return to guard duty at d8, but still, h3 and h2 get the Bishop drawn back to d8 with check.

You know what, though? Even if I won a Knight off of Alekhine...I'm pretty sure he could still pound me into the ground like a tent stake. Jose Raul can probably handle himself, however.

d=^))

• #3

I think that you should be sure to credit The Art of the Middlegame for the analysis.

• #4

although a dead thread was brought alive it was worth it since  OP made a great and instructive post.

• #5