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 ...
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  • 31.9k
34 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 ...
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  • 13.1k
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. ...
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  • 11.8k
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"] [...
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26 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 ...
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  • 5,070
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, ...
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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 ...
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  • 31.9k
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. ...
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  • 11.8k
20 votes
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What are the things that a 2000 player knows that a 1800 player doesn't know?

Should I focus on opening? Do you regularly fail to get out of the opening? Regularly get beaten whilst still in the opening? If yes then you definitely need to work on your openings. Do you ...
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  • 75.7k
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 ...
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  • 15.2k
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 ...
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  • 6,478
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 ...
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  • 11.8k
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 ...
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  • 11.8k
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 ...
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  • 7,332
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 ...
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15 votes
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Chess traps without positional loss

The following traps do not lead to any positional loss for the side setting the trap. It's obviously not an exhaustive list- A common trap in the Sicilian [FEN ""] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 ...
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  • 9,235
15 votes
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What is positional play in chess?

Classically positional play is what is described in part 2 of Nimzowitsch's "My System". Part 1, The Elements, is more tactical in nature. It describes play in open files, using the 7th and 8th ranks, ...
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  • 75.7k
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 ...
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  • 31.9k
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 ...
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  • 5,164
13 votes

What are the things that a 2000 player knows that a 1800 player doesn't know?

I recently progressed from 1800 to 2000 in my USCF tournament rating. I don't know how that compares to chess.com ratings. Here are some differences I think I can perceive between my play now and then ...
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  • 14.5k
13 votes
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When is it right to start learning strategy after tactics

Improving positional understanding is a longterm project. You do it by playing, by analysing, by going through well annotated master games and by working through books on the subject. But contrary to ...
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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? ...
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  • 1,608
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 ...
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  • 20.4k
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 ...
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  • 75.7k
13 votes
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Why does Black want to trade off her 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 ...
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  • 1,050
12 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 ...
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  • 75.7k
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 ...
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  • 296
11 votes
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Which side should I castle if I have opportunity to castle on both sides?

can somebody explain what are the factors should be considered if we have opportunity to castle on both sides? 1. The most important factor is king safety; Long castle is less safe than short one, ...
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11 votes

What are the things that a 2000 player knows that a 1800 player doesn't know?

My feeling when playing players under 2000 is, that they usually lack a certain sense of urgency. They often play decent chess, when there is something to do, like attacking the king, but they don't ...
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