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honololou 94 ( +1 | -1 )
tactical vs.positional I consider myself a decent tactical player, being most at
home in somewhat active positions. But like many other
players at my level I suppose, I find quiet situations that
call for positional play more of a challenge. Silman's book,
The Amateur Mind has been helpful and I've subsequently
tried to identify and exploit the imbalances of each
position. As a result, I feel more confident formulating a
plan and identifying moves that advance that plan.

I find it difficult, however, to go back and forth between
the positional and tactical ways of looking at a position. I
suspect that the best players are somehow able to "see"
these twin aspects of a position simultaneously or else
have the ability to shift effortlessly from one way of
thinking (macroscopic) to another (microscopic).

I would be interested to read any and all comments on this
subject, particularly from some of the better players
caldazar 178 ( +1 | -1 )
How I think I personally think on a purely tactical/calculation level. The positional aspects come in when I'm selecting candidate moves for my variations. For instance, I would not think to myself "There's an outpost at d5, I should come up with a plan to move a knight there." (ala the "Silman Thinking Technique") Rather, I would think "1. Bxf6 gxf6 2 Nd5 is good." On some level I'm expoiting my knowledge of knight outposts, but I'm not thinking about knight outposts directly.

In a way, I treat positional aspects like people treat grammar when they speak. People think in ideas, and they may juggle words around in their heads for a bit to say the right thing, but no one who is fluent in a language sits there making sure the verb matches the subject, the verb tense is correct, the adverb is in the proper place, etc... Once the idea is firmly in place, the words just come naturally. Same thing in chess for me; the calculations and variations that I think up have various positional factors contained in them already.

I suppose my positional sense is mostly pattern recognition; I know what a very good knight outpost looks like for instance (supporting pawn, no opposing pawn advances that can attack the knight on the square; possibly there's an enemy backward pawn in front of the knight).

Now I'm a pretty poor positional player; knight outposts, weak color complexes, and central control are typically the only positional factors I see on any consistent basis. But I've found that Silman's suggestions involving actively thinking about positional factors simply don't work for me. I think rather slowly in general, and if I followed his suggestions, I'd lose on time every game (Silman's protestation notwithstanding).
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macheide 75 ( +1 | -1 )
honoloulu & caldazar Dear friends,

Chess has many mansions, as Larry Evans said, I love tactical play, I love positional play, I love endgames and the transition between the middlegame to the endgame. But Chess has changed a lot in the last decades. The only dogma is that there is not dogma. Every position must be carefuly analysed. The Steinitzian, Tarraschian or Nimzowitschian methodology are only good paths. They are the things we need to follow when we begin to play chess, because we need to think we have something secure, inamobible. But as I said, above, Chess had changed a lot and the classic rules are valid maybe in a 70% of the actual situations. That's my personal point of view and I could be wrong.

Best regards,

peppe_l 211 ( +1 | -1 )
My way Is TOO schematic - too positional! I always think about positional factors and try to form a plan, before considering concrete moves or variations. Sometimes even in tactical positions!

This games vs a dangerous tactician was a good example

N.N - Me

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nf3 Nd7 (6...Nf6 7.h4 Nh5) 7.h4 h6 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bc4 e6 10.Qe2 Ngf6 11.Ne5 Nd5

Recognizing the weakness of e6 and typical tactical theme, if 11...Bd6? (11...Be7 and here too Nxf7!) 12.Nxf7! wins.

12.0-0 Bd6 13.f4

Too agressive IMO, f4 does strenghten the support of Ne5 is prepares f5, followed by straight-forward attack. However, especially after h5 kings position is weakened, and thematic central counter-strike c5 opens a diagonal straight against Kg1. Black can even hope to exploit the weakness of e3 square (Nd5). And of course, Bc1 remains blocked until f5 is played.

0-0 14.f5?

Before calculating a single move I though about positional consequenses of f4-f5.

1) f4 weakened kings position and g1-a7 diagonal (Bd6-c5 and N already in d5 to exploit the weakening of e3 square). Also it left Ng3 hanging (tactical theme), h5 had already left h4 for Qd8 to use.

2) f5 weakened the support of Ne5, so I thought in a simple way - play Nxe5 and because of f5 dxe5 is forced, then Bd6 can conquer the weakened diagonal (with check) and my queen is ready to jump to another weak square - h4, threatening Ng3 in the same time.

So, then I just calculated "Nxe5 and he has to play dxe5, then Bc5+ and since Kh1?? Qh4+ is mate, he must play Rf2, losing an exchange...then Qg3 to force the exchange of queens".

In other words I spent several minutes for thinking about positional factors before thinking about concrete moves.


Nxe5 15.dxe5 Bc5+ 16.Rf2 Qh4 17.Bxd5 Qxg3 18.Bf3 Qxf2+ 19.Qxf2 Bxf2+ 20.Kxf2 Bxf5

And eventually 0-1

Many people find my way to think about chess somewhat strange, so I have to ask does anyone of you see position after f4-f5 in the same way I do? The problem of my way is Im in trouble if position is 100% about tactics - no positional ideas or plans whatsoever. Also sometimes I forget my opponent has the right to move too, I have a nice plan but I overlook the moves that prevent it (strong players here at GK are very skillful in finding such moves!) and leave me in bad position. Anyone else has similar thinking style, or am I alone here? :-)
peppe_l 5 ( +1 | -1 )
Sorry Lots of spelling errors again heheh
v_glorioso12 5 ( +1 | -1 )
i like playing both :-)
very short post.....
honololou 2 ( +1 | -1 )
thank you… one and all for your comments.
ordinary_man 64 ( +1 | -1 )
Two ways... On gameknot I have lots of time and the positional factor is much more important, because a strong player given enough time will be able to work his way through the tactics usually.

But on the other hand, over-the-board witha clock ticking, I find that I do a lot of calcualting and tactics enter my head about 80% of the time, so as to not make any blunders, or to exploit my opponent's blunders, only about 20% of the time do I seriously think about the positional strategy, I find that is all I need, because let's face it, at the over-the-board amateur level, almost all games are won or lost depending on tactical blunders.
triangulator 14 ( +1 | -1 )
I would rather be a very good positional player caculating 4-5 moves at best rather than being a realy good tactcian