Going Tactically-Positional, or Positionally-Tactical?

Going Tactically-Positional, or Positionally-Tactical?

Nov 18, 2013, 7:39 PM |

How to Make it Big in Small Packages

Our intention with Test Your Positional Skills Tactically! puzzle published on iPlayoo! every Sunday is to increase and sharpen your strategic understanding from the games of the Greats. To make this a pleasurable experience for you, we asked them to use some tactics for you, some good tactics! But not some slashing and smashing tactics to get the opponent out of the saddle and onto the ground! Instead, the Masters will show you how they use little tactics, how they make seemingly trivial changes in the position to build it up and make it strong to the point where big tactics may be available – if you can see it!

Masters blend together the tactical and positional all the time. It is not like in chess books, let’s practice some tactics from this one, then some positional stuff from that one. No, it shouldn’t work that way, strategy and tactics always go hand in hand, you don’t find them in separate boxes.

Victor Bregeda (Taganrog, 1963), Somewhere in time

The above picture, Somewhere in time, shows that at certain points in our life (or a game of chess), we have the opportunity to come out of the cave; we can review our creation and make choices about our path in the future. There always exists another path, that stays in the light without going back to the cave.

What is Communication Nexus in Chess?

In this game, somewhere in time (the round one of the famous 1953 Zurich tournament), Black (Keres) played out the opening very well and his two promising central pawns looked very aggressive. Yet, Keres didn’t see some little tactics to improve the position, while White (Petrosian) did see some, which helped him neutralize the game which eventually ended in a draw.

Here you need to find little tactics that wasn’t seen in the actual game. As Victor Bregeda shows us in the above picture, you need to find another path, that stays in the light without going back to the darkness.

White just played 14.Nc2-e1 and, evidently, was going to d3 to impose blockade à la Nimzo.

What kind of positional gain for Black could you see possible here? Just think some little tactics:) think of “another path that stays in the light” in order to improve his position, as is typical with these puzzles on iPlayoo!


 Here is David Bronstein with his enlightened and ever fresh commentary[1].

“The most important point in this position is unquestionably d4: it marks the intersection of the lines of force from the black bishop to the white king and from the black rook to the white queen; also, if the black knight could get to d4, it would take away four squares from the white queen and strengthen the pin on the night on f3. White’s next and quite obvious move will reduce the value of this communication nexus to a minimum, if not to zero. The blockaded d-pawn will frustrate both the bishop on c5 and the rook on a8 with its aspirations to d8.”

“The nexus could could have been cleared for the price of a pawn.”


To sum up, for the small price the small tactics would have brought Black three positional pluses: (1) opening the line for the c5-bishop, (2) opening the d-file for the rook, (3) vacating the d4-square for the knight. Not a bad deal at all, “which would have given Black a very promising game,” concluded Bronstein. Instead, Keres played differently (14…Qe6) which allowed his opponent to make use of some little tactics himself! But that’s something we will leave for another occasion…

1. David Bronstein, Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953 (Dover Chess)

Main image: chess art Mariana Palova, Moon Tales 2012 Meditación