The Positional-Tactical Continuum

Oct 4, 2010, 5:44 AM |

I have long seen chess players referred to as a 'positional player' or a 'tactical player'. There are even many books and articles distinguishing positional play and tactical play as two separate philosophies of chess. But, are they really separate? I don't think so. To me, positional play and tactical play are as intertwined as space and time. Strong positional moves, at least in my experience and studies, seem to, more often than not, lead to better tactics. And vice-versa. I have seen strong tactics that lead to positional advantages (and further on in the game these tactically created positional advantages tend to reap strong tactics). Let's look at some examples from this game between Kasparov v. Topalov:


As Kasparov demonstrated in his game against Topalov: positional play and tactical play are very closely intertwined. Kasparov used positional moves to increase tactical chances. He also use tactics to weaken his opponent's position, therefore reducing Topalov's tactical chances and improving his own position. So to sum things up to one useful idea: 

Positional moves should be played to increase tactical chances as well as strengthen one's position. And tactical moves should be played to create weaknesses in your opponent's position as well try to gain material.