Tactics Or Positional Play? The Ladies Teach Chess

Tactics Or Positional Play? The Ladies Teach Chess

| 33 | Strategy

I’ve long insisted that the best way to improve (aside from playing stronger players) is to look at reams of master games. Most games between titled players have some important lesson hiding behind the moves, and I decided to make it easy for you by offering up a series of puzzles that can be either positional or tactical, quiet or dynamic (just like in real life!).

Many solutions are quite hard, but don’t let that worry you! I have annotated all the games and pointed out the key instructive moments. So, give it your best shot, then look over the notes and see what you did or didn’t understand. Please keep in mind that the notes are the key components of this article, so DO look them over!

In this, our first article on "tactical or positional,” I mined a women’s event that took place in 2013 (all the games are from this one event). If you haven’t paid much attention to women’s chess, I think these games might change your view!


Puzzle 1:

White’s queen is under attack. That’s easy to deal with, but what part of her game is White relying on?

Puzzle 2:

Black doesn’t look like she’s doing so badly. Her king is castled, she’s about to play ...Bb7 when her bishops will both be cooking down the long diagonals, and well, what’s not to like?

Puzzle 3:

After an odd opening we have reached a rather odd position. It’s hard to know what’s going on, which makes finding a meaningful move rather difficult.

Puzzle 4:

This looks incredibly complicated. Black is eyeing White’s central king and is trying to do everything possible to bust open the center. White wants a momentary breath so she can castle while also trying to create a central pawn weakness in Black’s camp. Both sides need to avoid drowning in the chaos.

Puzzle 5:

White has two bishops and hopes to place a rook on c1 and kick about Black’s c-pawn. Black’s king is castled while castling is still a long way away for White. Thus we have White’s static hopes vs. Black’s dynamic hopes (the classic statics vs. dynamics battle).

More from IM Silman
The Downs And Ups Of GM Elmars Zemgalis (Silman's Last Article)

The Downs And Ups Of GM Elmars Zemgalis (Silman's Last Article)

How To Build Winning Chess Positions

How To Build Winning Chess Positions