I am a d4 player as white and I really don't like to memorize tatical lines in the opening altought I know most commons lines very well in the first 8 - 15 moves depend on the opening based on my practice.

I am looking for positional principles that can guide my play.

Do you have any line that you memorize few principles and you can guess some theory based on this considerations, or guide your play after your theory knowledge ends?

Please point out what positional rules you follow.

(For example someone teached me that queen's indian is a fight for the control of e4 square.

When I am playing with white and my theory knowledge ends or black play an unknown variation, I always check if I can break on e3-e4 and if I could usually is a good move.

When I am playing with black the same line and I reach a point where my theory knowledge ends and I don't know what to play, I always check if it is possible to overcontrol e4.

So the positional principle: control of e4, helps me a lot in queens indian when my theory knowledge ends or my opponent make an unusual move

Another example that come in my mind is when you reach common positions of benoni, black will try to play c5-c4 and put a knight on d3, but if black play this allow white to play knight f3-d4-c6, and this fight guide my play in both sides of this variation, and after I understand that I became stronger in both sides of this variation

A last example that I can give is the almost sure f5 by black in KID and petrosian variation of KID is a line that is not usually good for black force f5... Even fischer lose a beautiful game for tal insisting in playing f5 in this line... So this change in black's way to think the KID can be very annoying even for stronger players... I usually do so well with this variation based that black side of KID usually will force f5 and petrosian variation make it so difficult)

  • 4
    All openings are based on positional principles, but playing openings well requires a lot of memorization at top levels; move order subtleties and years of practice and analysis in these openings by top players cannot be "found at the board" by anyone.
    – TMM
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 20:51
  • 2
    And of course if there was a miracle opening that let white achieve a good position without any effort or memorization against any black reply, everone would play it! Chess is a two-player game, and you can't both get what you want. (If white wants a positional game and black wants a tactical game, the stronger/better prepared player of the two will likely get what he wants, while the other has to "suffer" through a type of game he'd like to avoid.)
    – TMM
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 22:01
  • I badly state my question. I will correct it.
    – Marco
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 12:06
  • 1
    It might also help to state your approximate rating. In the lower rating ranges, even highly dubious lines are very playable if you know the moves and ideas better than black.
    – TMM
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 13:12

2 Answers 2


As TMM said, you won't get any edge with White without any memorization or tactical, not only positional understanding of the opening.

I would recommand you though to look at the Reti opening 1. Nf3. As a d4 player, you won't be out of your territory and would be able to dodge normal Grünfeld type of positions, which is a sharp opening of course, and the Nimzo-Indian as well, which requires also a lot of work. These subtleties are based on move orders though and transpositional "tricks". You have to know them ! The Reti should spare you some precious time but you won't get away from studying opening.

Against the KID, you should look at the Smyslov variation. You won't be crushed within 15 moves (or even less) as in the main lines.

  • I don't agree that memorization is required. The are several openings you can think your way through with basic understanding and calculating abilities; for example: The London System, The Colle System, The King's Indian Attack, etc.
    – Ywapom
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 22:07
  • Even these systems have their theory (otherwise they would not be played regularly even at top level, at least for London system). If you are playing for an edge, you need to know your stuff, but I agree they are less principled than KID or Grünfeld for example.
    – loukios
    Commented Sep 23, 2017 at 11:44

Consider what imbalances you can create with a particular opening and the strategic principals that go with the imbalance. For example, Karpov often traded a bishop for a knight and then steered the pawn formation to favor knights. You might consider the book "The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings" by Reuben Fine

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