In the following Wikipedia biography on Gary Kasparov, I read the following:

From age 7, Kasparov attended the Young Pioneer Palace in Baku and, at 10 began training at Mikhail Botvinnik's chess school under noted coach Vladimir Makogonov. Makogonov helped develop Kasparov's positional skills and taught him to play the Caro-Kann Defence and the Tartakower System of the Queen's Gambit Declined.

This got me thinking: does the Caro-Kann or the Tartakower System of the Queen's Gambit Declined help with positional skills or was this probably due more to the fact that Makogonov was familiar with it?

  • Just a minor detail, you might want to edit the spelling of Makogonov's name in your final paragraph. The n and g are transposed. ;-) Jul 10, 2012 at 17:57
  • Whoever down-voted? Care to explain?
    – xaisoft
    Aug 12, 2012 at 15:44

3 Answers 3


Based on the sentence syntax I don't believe that the author is intending to make a connection between the mentioned opening systems and positional skills. Every strong player must have good positional skills and must also be a good tactician. You could not become a world class player without both.

Both of these openings do have strong positional ideas and Makogonov (who would be classed as "positional") played them both. So it is likely that he taught them because he believed that they were instructive and because he was familiar with them.

  • 3
    I believe you are right, after reading it again, I don't believe Kasparov building positional skills had any direct correlation to the Caro-Kann or Queen's Gambit Declined.
    – xaisoft
    Jul 10, 2012 at 17:48

I think that playing slower, more 'positional' defenses like the Caro Kann and Tartakower System of the QGD absolutely do help develop positional skills, but of course those are two openings out of many.


There are also many more openings for positional play, like the London System, Nimzo-Indian, etc. Perhaps the best choices are systems since they require little or no theory.

  • 1
    I'd disagree with the second sentence. "Theory" does not automatically equal tactical play, after all. The theory of the "mainstream" openings is deeply rooted in positional principles and it will pay off to learn where and why.
    – Annatar
    Aug 4, 2020 at 8:34
  • 1
    Yes, there's the mental trap of memorizing theoretical lines without understanding. But a similar trap exists for system openings as well, if one always plays the first 10 moves in the same way without looking for what the opponent does. Mental flexibility (=the ability to improve) is independent from one's choice of openings.
    – Annatar
    Aug 4, 2020 at 8:36

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