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I like to make this distinction: "positional" and "strategic" refer to thinking in ideas, "tactical" refers to thinking in moves.
Of course when you make a move you think both in in ideas and in moves but the proportion can be different. In quiet positions when there are no forcing moves for both sides you follow general guidelines like "improving worst piece", ""controlling open file", "creating knight outpost", "preparing king attack". Then the play is more strategic or positional (which in most cases means almost the same). However in sharp positions moves become forced and forcing and you have to calculate lots of specific variations and that's tactical play.
I never heard when someone refer Karpov, great 'positional player', but 'great strategic player'.
What do you think the difference between strategic and positional are?
I've seen both terms to be used to describe Karpov's style.
Strategy as a long-term planning is based on long-term positional factors (open files, outposts, pawn structure etc.). So for me strategic and positional play are so closely related that there is practically no difference.
There is bunch of book with a word "positional" in their title and another bunch of book with a word "strategy" in their title. And they all cover more or less same topics. From what I could see both terms are used interchangeably.
The only thing I have in my mind that (may be) can be called strategic but not positional is a simplification - for example exchanging and sacrificing material in order to go into technically won endgame.
FWIW Kramnik did not consider Karpov a strategic player, but a tactical player who made positional combinations:...what were Karpov's weak points?I think he did not pay attention to strategy. As I have already told, he easily forgot about the things that had happened on the board. Probably, he did not have a sufficiently deep strategic thread of the play. Karpov is a chess player of a great number of short, two to three move combinations: he transferred his knight, seized the space, weakened a pawn . In my view, he was not a strategic player by nature. --From Steinitz to Kasparov with Vladimir Kramnik, 2005
I often use tactical means to gain a positional advantage. Tactics can be employed not just to bring about checkmate or to gain material, but also to gain control of squares, open lines, impede the freedom of the enemy, etc. Positional advantage in its turn then becomes the springboard for tactics. It is this constant interplay between tactics and positional strategy that makes chess interesting to me.
That could explain why he was apparently taken so completely by surprise by Kasparov's manoevering in the famous 'octopus knight' game (Karpov vs Kasparov, World Championship Match-16th game, 1985).
The implication that meticulous tactical play naturally leads to slow positional crush, anaconda style, is an interesting one. However, I remain somewhat skeptical of Kramnik's assessment. Are there other players who were great at "short, two to three move combinations" that also mirrored Karpov's style? Or did Karpov in fact have some additional quality that made his play so characteristic of him? And if so, what was it?
Are there other players who were great at "short, two to three move combinations" that also mirrored Karpov's style?I couldn't say. I assume so. It had never occurred to me that one could play chess that way until I read Kramnik's comment on Karpov. It opened my eyes to more of what goes on in GM games.Perhaps we need a new category of tactical puzzles specifically for positional gains.
I realize this is an old post. But on the subject of Positional vs Tactical, one can illustrate the idea like this: Positional Players allow you to hurt yourselves and Tactical Players are the ones who do the hurting. Which is better? It is a rather bad question. This is because both don't necessarily reach a limit or a stopping point. But, it is more than likely easier for one to play tactically than it is for that person to play positionally. Why? Any form of Tactical Chess is likened to Attacking. Any form of Positional Chess is likened to Defense. It would seem the former comes more naturally than the latter. But to be honest, having both would be of great use to you.
Tactics can improve positions, positions can improve tactical opportunities. I see this whole debate as semantics and style preference; chicken and egg sort of deal; and rather than being labelled, just see it for what it is, and call your style of chess labelless.
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