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35 votes

Positional thinking by Grandmasters

When a GM, or even lesser strong players reach a position that is totally unfamiliar, they have to break it down into components. They evaluate the following for BOTH sides. In general, a lot of this ...
PhishMaster's user avatar
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33 votes

{Landa vs Zhu Chen, Bad Wiessee, 2006} Lichess giving a +4.7 to white. Why?

The material balance is only temporary. After White goes c4, Black will lose a piece. If Qf5, White has f3 trapping the bishop. All alternatives to Qf5 leave a piece unprotected (for instance c4 Nxc4 ...
David's user avatar
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29 votes

Understanding Anand's Bc4 move vs Ivanchuk 1992

In short, the key idea is to prevent white from playing h2-h3! Bc4 forces the exchange of light square bishops, and thus, sets up Rh3 which blocks the h2 pawn and keeps both the h2 and g4 pawns weak. ...
Ellie's user avatar
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28 votes
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Why is exchanging the queens bad in this position?

I think it is because 21.Rfc1 wins the c7 pawn. If black responds with a queen trade, she can't defend the pawn on c7 because white's bishop can attack a defending rook on c8 or d7. [White "NN"] [...
RemcoGerlich's user avatar
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28 votes
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Why does GM Larry claim that this sacrifice is brilliant?

Because it is brilliant No, Larry was not wrong, and neither are all the grandmasters and chess commentators who praised (and are still praising) the move 17.Rxb7!! Nobody, and I am sure neither ...
Evargalo's user avatar
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27 votes
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Black's tools in the Caro-Kann Advanced Tal Variation

I play the white side of this position often, and have an incredible winrate because to be honest, it feels very hard for black to develop naturally. Here's an example of how things can go wrong: [FEN ...
NoseKnowsAll's user avatar
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24 votes

Why is exchanging the queens bad in this position?

It is true that Rfc1 wins the c7 pawn, but even if that where not the case, Rfc1 is significantly better technique than initiating the exchange yourself. The black queen is pinned against the king, ...
BlindKungFuMaster's user avatar
24 votes
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Why is it better to take with the knight than with the pawn in this position?

Why is it better to take with the knight rather than the pawn in this position? Taking with the pawn is bad for the pawn, the knight and the bishop while taking with the knight is good for all those ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
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23 votes
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What does it mean to play "positionally", and how do you train that?

There are three general types of players: Positional, tactical, and universal, which is being adept and comfortable in both positional and tactical games. Tactical means that you love open positions ...
PhishMaster's user avatar
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21 votes

Understanding Kramnik's play in game 1 of Candidates 2018

The short answer is: white's making it difficult for black to challenge the center with their central pawns. But that's not really revealing much, so let us dig deeper into this beautiful middlegame. ...
Ellie's user avatar
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20 votes
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Does blitz change the relative value of position vs material?

It just seemed obvious to me that gambits would work better with faster games, for the same reasons as given in the comments - it's harder to defend than attack, etc. I tried looking at several ...
D M's user avatar
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18 votes
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Why is 11. .. h6 such a bad move?

By playing 11...h6, you created a weakness on g6, and you created a target on h6, now it is easier for white to open up a position around your king by pushing their g-pawn. White also has a potential ...
Akavall's user avatar
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17 votes
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Assessing an early c4 against white's Stonewall structure

Good question! The positional priorities in this position do not really lie in whose bishop has more prospects, but rather in the emerging pawn structure, potential pawn breaks, and either side's ...
Ellie's user avatar
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17 votes
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The Game of the Century - why didn't Byrne take the rook after he forked Fischer?

Short answer: Since after the bishop recapture on f8 (and not the rook recapture!) white is tactically and positionally completely busted, with 5 active black pieces against a completely exposed king ...
Ellie's user avatar
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17 votes

In this game, should white sacrifice their bishop to expose black's king?

The sacrifice makes very little sense here. A weakness is only a weakness if it can be exploited, and in this case white won't really have anything substantial to go on after giving up the bishop. But ...
Scounged's user avatar
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16 votes

What does it mean to play "positionally", and how do you train that?

I think of game time decisions as yin-yang of tactics vs strategy (or positional play). In that order, tactics are the move-by-move calculations with the aim of achieving material gains (or preventing ...
postoronnim's user avatar
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15 votes
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Pushing the e-pawn

I disagree that it is primarily about development. This is a very common theme, and it comes down to the fact that e5 is not easily defended by a pawn (aka "artificially isolated"). Bg4 soon ...
PhishMaster's user avatar
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15 votes
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Was this “caterpillar” strategy a good way to advance my pawns?

tl;dr: "Yes." Discussion: Technically, this position is governed by the basic concept of the "Outside Passed Pawn" and the winning method is to use that pawn to restrict the opposing king's ability ...
Arlen's user avatar
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15 votes
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Why does Black want to trade off their King's Bishop in many d4 lines?

Black gains a tempo. Black has played two bishop moves, but white has played Nc3, a3, and bxc3. Once the smoke clears, black has a lead in development with one minor piece out (vs none) and can ...
DongKy's user avatar
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13 votes
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In the King's Indian Defense, is 9...Kh8 playable?

I don't know what does "playable" mean for you, but... even though 9... Kh8 isn't a losing move, it's just a waste of time. Even a greater waste of time is the suggested plan with Ng8 and Bh6. Why? ...
kmartin's user avatar
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13 votes
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Is White controlling this game?

Yes, white is better in this position, because it controls more space. The black position is somewhat cramped, particularly the queenside pieces (Bd7, Nb8, Ra8) are difficult to develop. The ...
user1583209's user avatar
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13 votes

Pushing the e-pawn

e5 does nothing for you and helps your opponent. Why? First, it does nothing for your development. Much better would be d3 which releases the c1 bishop and protects the e pawn. If your opponent plays ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
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13 votes

What is a "monster knight"?

The concept of a knight which is so powerfully placed (generally on e6/e3) that the game wins itself dates, according to Winter, from: An observation by Zukertort after 26 Ne6 in the simultaneous ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
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13 votes
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Positional analysis after a dubious move

...Nc2?? is indeed a terrible move here. Doing a simple material count we see that black is a pawn up, and if we start looking for checks and captures in the position we immediately see that black can ...
Scounged's user avatar
  • 7,998
12 votes

Why is 11. .. h6 such a bad move?

To add to the existing answers, you just gave up your light squared bishop for no apparent reason, while creating many light square weaknesses around your king with the same move! Now white is the ...
YiFan's user avatar
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11 votes
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When to move/centralize king?

The general rule of thumb is that: if the queens are off the board then it's generally safe to keep the kings central in order to use them as active pieces (specially in endgames) instead of tucking ...
Ellie's user avatar
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11 votes

Was this “caterpillar” strategy a good way to advance my pawns?

Overall, that is totally fine, and it worked great. That said, without a detailed calculation of any promotion and stalemate possibilities on the k-side, the easiest win will be running to b2 and just ...
PhishMaster's user avatar
  • 32.6k
11 votes
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Good Knight Against Bad Bishop Endgame - A More Constructive Plan?

First, the good: You are probably winning this throughout the game, and thus, improving your position gradually was the perfect plan. It also was one of the best examples of Shereshevsky's "Do Not ...
PhishMaster's user avatar
  • 32.6k
11 votes

Why does Black want to trade off their King's Bishop in many d4 lines?

Bent Larsen explained it like this. If you want to win as Black you must unbalance the position, and this involves giving something to get something. Giving your opponent the two Bishops is something ...
Philip Roe's user avatar
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