Chess Styles in depth


I went through a bunch of sites and even this one to get a valid categlorization ofchess styles and players. possibly even the predicted openings for each would be good. there is a long way to go in linking them together. kingscrusher's evolution of style series on youtube has helped a little. i want help in getting all the official statistic breakdown of all the players. I happen to overlook the entirety of the players in their games because im not a grandmaster. if posible i want a conversion chart or something. universifying specific types of all chess styles would be great. This concept is interesting and maybe even myers briggs personaliy type coorelates. lots of factors do. give me some output if you all can, thanks everyone!

Evolution of style-








Carlsen style


Types of chess players

Mad Scientist Steinitz positional

Surgeon Lasker Practical-positional

Genius Capablanca intuitive

Anaconda Nimzovitch tricky-positional

Mastermind Alekhine Calculating

Professional Botvinnik Positional

Escape Artist Korchnoi tricky

Magician Tal attacking

Assassin Fischer Calculating

Grinder Karpov Positional

Romantic Ivanchuk technical

Champion Kasparov Dynamic

Natural Anand Logical

Technician Kramnik Positional

Barbarian Nakamura Dynamic

Prodigy Carlsen concrete


Professional Petrosian Positional

Actual romantic (before 1900s style) Bird attacking

Magician Winter attacking

Natural Euwe logical

Professional Smyslov ultra-solid Positional

Barbarian Spassky dynamic

Genius Rubinstein technical

Grinder Reshevsky Positional

Romantic Short technical

Genius Sultan Khan intuitive

Romantic Bogolyubov attacking

Mad Scientist Tarrasch dynamic

Assassin Taimanov attacking


May or may not be accurate for all of them,

 its my intuitive feel for the players.

 The players i know the best are Capablanca, Rubinstein, and 


 A technical player will usually play the same openings repeatedly 

and know them extremely well. Usually these systems are positionally

 based and they know the strategical ideas extremely well. 

They may become uncomfortable when confronted with a new and

 unfamiliar position, however they usually do everything they can 

to aim for the positions they understand. Sometimes they make even

 make concessions to avoid being attacked or giving up counterplay

, even if this may not be the objectively correct decision. Despite this,

 they are hard to play against, because you feel like you are always

 playing into their strongpoints. Almost all technical player's seem 

to have an incredible overall chess understanding. It's a very practical

 style of play that's used by some of the most active and successful 

players in the nation, and it's almost impossible to be a "techincal" 

player, without being very strong, as it requires too much chess 

understanding for lower rated players to use successfully.

Examples - GM Igor Novikov, GM Alex Wojtkiewicz, IM John Donaldson

Positional Players are a bit different than technical players. 

Postional players are more versatile in their opening choices 

and simply rely on their general chess understanding to find the 

right solution in all positions. The difference between a "positional"

 player and a "technical" player is almost psychological, as the 

positional player's simply don't go out of their way to avoid 

unfamiliar positions, or positions in which they are being attacked. 

Despite all this, positional players may be easier to face if you have

 a tactical nature, as it's usually a bit easier to steer the game towards

 your style.

Examples - GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Joel Benjamin, GM Julio Becerra

Attacking players feel comfortable with the initiative. 

They want to be always attacking the opponent, and depending 

on whether they are, their strength may vary by quite a bit. 

Some attackers don't even have to be great calculators, 

but instead just have a natural understanding of how to conduct

 an attack.
      Attackers may have some difficulty against technical players, 

who often don't even give the attackers a chance to get started, 

and thus steer them into positions they aren't comfortable in. 

However if the attacking player ever manages to mix it up against t

he more technical types, the attacker stands a great chance of 

landing a knockout. Their games can be very entertaining as 

you know there is always a good chance for some fireworks.

Examples - GM Larry Christiansen, WIM Jenn Shahade, FM Dmitry Zilberstein

Calculating players generally work very hard at the board. 

Even though their general chess intuition may not be the greatest, 

they make up for it by pure and raw calculation power. 

You can almost feel their brains going overtime as you sit across 

from them. They try to always see one move further then their 

opponent, and are ready to pounce if you make just the slightest 

miscalculation. These players may often work so hard throughout 

the game that they end up in serious time trouble. Some of the 

toughest players to play against are technical players who are also 

strong calculators.

Examples - GM Alex Ivanov, GM Gregory Kaidanov, GM Walter Browne

         There is something about the way a tricky player plays that's

 very disconcerting. Repeatedly they will play moves that you didn't

 even consider and that just flat out look weird, to the extent that it

 may become very confusing for you. They never give up, and are 

constantly looking for ways to trap and attack you. These types of 

players are usually very entertaining because of their resourceful

 and imaginative style. They can be differentiated from calculating

 and attacking players mainly by the unorthodox nature of their


Examples - GM Alex Shabalov, Julian Hodgson, GM Pavel Blatny, IM Yuri Lapshun

         Dynamic players are usually pretty well rounded, 

but lean more towards the aggressive/tactical side. 

They often play enterprising openings and try to simply outplay 

you. They aren't scared to mix things up and are usually 

fighting constantly. Dynamic players are well rounded 

enough to not feel too uncomfortable if the position should be 

strategical or dry. Sometimes they may play the same openings 

game after game, however they are different than technical

 players because their opening choices are a lot more double-


Examples - GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Nick DeFirmian, FM David Pruess

         These players have a little bit of edge to their game. 

They understand that chess is a game, and the object is to do 

everything possible to win and not always to find the absolute

 best move. They often will play very quickly to put clock related

 pressure on you, and will often understand and avoid your strength'

s. They usually will play openings they are very familiar with. 

Technical players are often very practical as well, however they

 are usually a lot more limited in their opening choices, whereas

 practical players can play a more types of postions comfortably.
  Despite being comfortable in more types of openings, these 

players often have serious holes in their theoretical knowledge. 

They just hope to get a reasonable position out of the opening 

without spending too much time, and then to simply outplay you.

Examples - GM Leonid Yudasin, IM Jay Bonin

Intuitive These are a weird group of players. 

You get the sense that they simply understand where the pieces 

belong, whether the game is positional or tactical in nature. They

 may not be the best pure calculators, but they make up for it by

 moving quickly and confidently and being able to easily found 

solutions where others may have to spend a lot more time. Their

 reliance on their intuition may sometimes be a weakness 

as they trust their instincts too much when the position demands

 harder work.

Examples - GM John Fedorowicz


 Logical player's seem to try very hard to try to understand the 

position they are playing from a logical perspective. 

They are pretty solid at all phases of the game but usually not 

spectacular at any. They are good at adapting to unfamiliar 

position's and approaching them with a fresh mind as they have

 no preconceptions of what type's of positions they would like to

 play, and instead try to find the objective best move. 

These players won't often try anything too unorthodox

, however they also won't shy away from complications

 if they are necessary. 

Examples - GM Jonathan Rowson, IM Vinay Bhat

         Often young players have not yet developed a sense of style. It's very rare that you will find a positional young player, however they often develop into positional players when they mature. For this reason, some young players will go unclassified until their style develops more.


It should be noted that every Chess player falls under certain Class. Basically all Chess players can be classified as:


1) Brute force Type

Brute force implies using the current position to solve for mate

 in a straightforward manner. Brute force type chess players are

 usually the entry level players who have started to appreciate the

 game. Their type of chess play is easy to learn and implement

 tactics and positional play. But the disadvantage brute force type

 of Chess players is that it is usually very slow and can be applied

 only to chess positions where number of pieces on the board is



2) Divide and conquer Type

The divide and conquer type chess players, divide the given chess

 position by a constant factor (positional advantage) in each move

 by visualizing the next position mentaly (usually positions 4 to 5 

moves ahead). This means they have to analyze lesser and lesser

 part of the original position in each move. Some of the fastest 

and highly rated Chess Players belong to this class.


3) Decrease and conquer Type

This type of Chess Players are the same as divide and conquer 

type, except, here they are decreasing the current chess positional

 complexity in each move by a constant size (attack+defence) 

instead of constant factor (checkmate).


4) Dynamic Type

The ‘dynamic’ chess players type refers to the method and style

 of play using which these chess player arrives at the end result, 

and chess players who have previously exhibited such methodoly

 of their play in thier adopted field of chess research. Sometimes, 

a solution to the given instance of chess position depends on the

 smaller instance of sub-positions. It exhibits the property of overlapping sub-positions.


Hence, to move ahead from a chess position, they may have to 

reconsider same positional advantage again and again for smaller

 subpositions. Hence, it may waste their 'brain cycle time' with 

every next move. To remedy this, they basically, “remember” 

the result of each subposition. Whenever they need it, they will 

use that known expected result instead of reevaluating it again 

and again. Here, we are trading memory power of the chess player

 for time, to increase his move speed drastically.


Dynamic type are a very important class of chess players to

 identify solutions to chess positions that have many overlapping 



5) Greedy Type

For many chess positions, making greedy choices leads to an 

optimal positional advantage. These type of chess players optimize

 the current equally distributed position. The greedy type chess players,

 in each move, will make a locally optimum chess position such that

 it will lead to a globally optimal chess postion resulting in mate. 

(sacrifice move)


Once a choice about next move is made,

 these type of players usually do not retract it in later stages.


continuing :

Proving the correctness of a such greedy move is very important, 

since not all greedy moves lead to globally optimum chess position.


However, the approach of greedy type chess players is not always 

the correct approach to solve a given chess position, for example, taking the 

opponent's piece of largest count value at next move. Infact, dynamic type chess 

players arrive at much more optimal and justifiable set of moves for that position.


6) Transform and conquer type

Sometimes it is very hard or not so apparent as to how to arrive at the next move 

for a particular problem. These type of chess players, transform the chess position 

into something that they recognize, and then think in terms of that position to arrive

 at the next move.


7) Backtracking type

Backtracking type chess players are very similar to brute force type chess players. 

But the difference between them  is that, brute force chess players, we are 

generating every possible combination of next move and predicting if it can result 

in better chess position. Whereas, backtracking type chess players, each time they 

generate a solution, they are also observing if it satisfies all condition, and only then

 they  continue thinking subsequent moves, else they will backtrack and go on a 

different path of finding the correct next move.


The difference can best be understood by comparing their approach to N Queens

 problem. The advantage of backtracking type chess players approach over brute 

force type chess players is that the numbers of positions they have to analyze are

 very less compared to number of positions to be analyzed by brute force approach.

 The backtracking type chess players can isolate valid chess positions quickly.




Postional players are more versatile in their opening choices and simply rely on 

their general chess understanding to find the right solution in all positions. 

The difference between a "positional" player and a "technical" player is almost

 psychological, as the positional player's simply don't go out of their way to avoid

 unfamiliar positions, or positions in which they are being attacked. Despite all this,

 positional players may be easier to face if you have a tactical nature, as it's usually

 a bit easier to steer the game towards your style.



 Logical player's seem to try very hard to try to understand the position they

 are playing from a logical perspective. They are pretty solid at all phases of the 

game but usually not spectacular at any. They are good at adapting to unfamiliar 

position's and approaching them with a fresh mind as they have no preconceptions 

of what type's of positions they would like to play, and instead try to find the 

objective best move. These players won't often try anything too unorthodox, 

however they also won't shy away from complications if they are necessary. 

Attacking players feel comfortable with the initiative. They want to be always 

attacking the opponent, and depending on whether they are, their strength may

 vary by quite a bit. Some attackers don't even have to be great calculators, 

but instead just have a natural understanding of how to conduct an attack.
      Attackers may have some difficulty against technical players, 

who often don't even give the attackers a chance to get started, and thus steer

 them into positions they aren't comfortable in. However if the attacking player

 ever manages to mix it up against the more technical types, the attacker stands a

 great chance of landing a knockout. Their games can be very entertaining as you

 know there is always a good chance for some fireworks.

There is something about the way a tricky player plays that's very disconcerting.

 Repeatedly they will play moves that you didn't even consider and that just flat out

 look weird, to the extent that it may become very confusing for you. They never 

give up, and are constantly looking for ways to trap and attack you. These types of

 players are usually very entertaining because of their resourceful and imaginative 

style. They can be differentiated from calculating and attacking players mainly by 

the unorthodox nature of their play.


Natural player
Players are usually pretty well rounded, but lean more towards the 

aggressive/tactical side. They often play enterprising openings and try to simply 

outplay you. They aren't scared to mix things up and are usually fighting constantly.

 Dynamic players are well rounded enough to not feel too uncomfortable if the 

position should be strategical or dry. Sometimes they may play the same openings

 game after game, however  their opening choices are a lot more double-edged.




probably lol. I have just really been into it. Im kind of a lazy player. I see short range combinations. I use strategy and positional moves whenever possible. Dual purpose moves also, moves that use tactics to improve my position. "The threat is greater than the move." I aim for a slight advantage the whole game. My losses have been from making too many passive moves, which Ive worked on. Becoming more of a technical player, except i make sure i dont make pawn weaknesses around my king. The weakness is a last resort. Been influenced by Capablanca, Rubinstein, Nimzovitch, Karpov, Borvinnik, Kramnik, Petrosian, Ivanchuk, Carlsen, Lasker, lots of players. Im an "intuitive", "genius", "Positonal", "Divide and Conquer", "Classical", "Technician" player. Still aiming for the optimal style, which matches Carlsen's style. It takes alot of studying, of both tacticians and positional players. Its good to see the other types of players out there. At my college chess club i have a rival who is an attacker that always seeks complications and knows minimal opening theory. kind of a polar opposite of me. Keeps me entertained, and i improve my weaknesses the most from playing him, because my weaknesses in the game are highlighted. I have to slow down, even though i dont like to and think about the best move. Its good to play people of differant styles. When i play someone the same style as me, i end up maneuvering then attacking, and winning the middle game, or getting a slight advantage and win. It is generally easier. Whereas with a tactician, i aim for a slight advantage and win the endgame. Ive had my share of losses as well, but still, from learning the most it is from playing great tacticians.


I play the position on the board.


The position is paramount, nice!!


One aim of this forum is to break down players with their own strengths and weaknesses. A chess "style" emerges, not only from preferance of moves, but from having certain strengths and weaknesses. There is the objective move that is correct, even if it may enter complications, and there is the move that a player prefers. There are strengths and weaknesses of each style, and if you identify your own strengths and weaknesses, you can identify your style, and vice versa. Optimally, a universal style is a perfect one that will result. This pure universal one will have minimal weaknesses, like that of Carlsen.

andrewjeselson2 wrote:

One aim of this forum is to break down players with their own strengths and weaknesses. A chess "style" emerges, not only from preferance of moves, but from having certain strengths and weaknesses. There is the objective move that is correct, even if it may enter complications, and there is the move that a player prefers. There are strengths and weaknesses of each style, and if you identify your own strengths and weaknesses, you can identify your style, and vice versa. Optimally, a universal style is a perfect one that will result. This pure universal one will have minimal weaknesses, like that of Carlsen.

As a USCF Class A/B player (depending on how im playing :-)) My style is blundering, and missing tactics. 


I dunno about style I just try to play the best move I can see on the board.

General-Mayhem wrote:

I dunno about style I just try to play the best move I can see on the board.

And its as simple as that!


first of all, I wanted to say that I enjoyed your post... I think it was A huge undertaking- and I little obsessive.  thats prolly why it didn't cause much fervor in the forum.

that said, I have two thoughts regarding your big project; one big point and a small point that could prolly generate a lot of discussion, if people thought about it.

so first, I like and get the idea of trying to get a sense of WC grandmaster 'style' and this has been done several times by several different authors as a way for us patzers to understand and appreciate the differences and brilliance of each of the WC's.  

I think though the "type" is not nearly as useful and instructive.  in fact, I think it is 'type' that is why some people are giving you grief. people do in fact have favored thinking patterns and espacially with the patzer variety (such as myself); if you tend to stick to some kind of inflexible, limited way of looking at a position... on the other hand, its hard to just brand a chess player as the "attacking" type and go off the key idea that person X will stick to that mode under all circumstances.

I may not be strong;  but I've had enough lumps to know I need to logical, safe, and if I got nothing in my crosshairs try to get some kind of positional advantage. I also know I need to plan and really seek to find an advantage that my opponent can't match; or If he's done all the thinking looking for that "tricky" move... that undos much of his attack.

see what I mean?  I'm trying to do it all, and esp with a stronger player, he's not easily pigeonholed into a "type"... when theres an equal position and several uncertain and plausable moves, then you can talk about style.

and when your strong enough that you dominate all of chess in a certain kind of position.  then your style if clear and becomes instructive to many people....


next point (and I hope others will comment- so Ill keep it shorter).you say that chess has evolved to the carlsen style.

I strongly disagree.

We are in the Computer era; and I believe what the PCs have shown; playing stronger than any human can.. is that high level chess can be played along several nearly equal "styles" with nearly all of the approaches; under best play lead to draws.

thus, I think the era is wisely called the "universal era".

I think Carlsens game HAS inspired people to be more careful and know their endgame.

 On the other hand;  Many GMS are doing Deep opening preparation- and coming out other game with some kind of crushing game they worked out on a PC.   Isn't this a Difference between now and chess as it used to be played (at the highest level).

all the Supergms are talking about it.

you can't blame carlsen for starting that.   Instead, you should really finger the computers for changing chess in our era.  

Some folks like carlsen just get scary accurate;, and other people conspire with the PCs to rewrite opening theory, in a way never before possible looking at all the openings in digital, flawless accuracy and pointing out all the holes of the old masters.


Uh oh! tl;dr.


ha. ok. try again.

we are NOT in the carlsen era.

yes I read the WHOLE thing. interesting. lol.


Magnus Carlsen's style can be seen as the evolution of chess style we will post a series of videos proving this precise point. Photo: Michael Chukwuma Mkpadi. All rights reserved


^About the magnus style, chess club live posted this on facebook

Just something to be talked about. May or may not be true, but Magnus is very accurate in playing chess.


In modern day, people use computers, and they arent as origional. They outplay people who dont use computers, therefore i agree on that. I agree with Fischer, that you shouldnt have to memorize in chess. That is why chess 960 was created. Style is changing, people are becoming more technical. The "types of players" post is more true on the club level basis (ex. brute force type i see alot at my college chess club). The style is more global. I just thought it would be interesting to include the "types" of players. All of this can be taken with a grain of salt, but i just wanted a page to discuss styles, get some insight. Learn more about the psychological aspect of chess. I posted this to benefit players who want to learn more about themselves. People who want to make relations and connections. It may or may not help, but I tried.



the OP took a lot of time and effort (and a considerable amount of thinking) to come up with this.  yes, perhaps it seems a little over-reaching. but he tried to pin down the difference between style, habitual thinking patterns and how it might be a strength or weakness.

in short, I think any effort to better understand how the great chess masters think is instructive and useful.

I also think its a lot more than most of the patzers out there do.  just sayin'. 

andrewjeselson2 wrote:

One aim of this forum is to break down players with their own strengths and weaknesses. A chess "style" emerges, not only from preferance of moves, but from having certain strengths and weaknesses. There is the objective move that is correct, even if it may enter complications, and there is the move that a player prefers. There are strengths and weaknesses of each style, and if you identify your own strengths and weaknesses, you can identify your style, and vice versa. Optimally, a universal style is a perfect one that will result. This pure universal one will have minimal weaknesses, like that of Carlsen.

I recognize Kingcrusher as a strong and thoughtful player who posts widely on youtube. and I would be happy to hear what he says.  on the other other hand, I can't help to feel like I disagree with what you imply here.  I'm really NOT sure that there exists a perfect style.

moreover Great accuracy is , IMHO, Not a matter of style.  Instead, I see style as how a strong player chooses between two equal, yet different moves. 

this is how i see it (differences might be semantic than anything - so please feel free to link pertinent media to this interesting subject).


REgarding the "era of carlsen";  look at it this way, how can it be a strength NOT to have prepared and practically memorized a winning opening by two very strong chess players who have dedicated themselves to crushing their opponent with the slightest of advantages?  and Yet,  Carlsen Does NOT do the deep opening preparation his peers does- and has definitely Lost games because of it.

moreover, if Carlsen doesn't do this deep preparation and many other people do?  how could you nickname the whole era after him??  NO, carlsen wins DESPITE his weak opening and not because of it.

He IS the world champion, he is an incredible athlete and no doubt many people aspire to be as flawless and accurate as he is;  but most others work on their deep opening preparation...

it defines the age; because strong chess players and coming into tournaments with whole wins (worked out on a computer) practicallly memorized.  and it wasn't that way before. 


I look for the day for a champion to rise with carlsens accuracy and altheletic skill AND with the deep opening preparation many super gms are working on.  when That happens; however it is IMHO will have a scary and nearly unbeleivable FIDE elo.. (then I'll be happy to nickname the age after him,since he will be everything that make modern chess different and better than other ages).


and if THAT doesn't convince you, or you simply feel I'm wrong or misunderstanding the "evolution of style"- I think we should just "Agree to disagree."

personally I think we sometimes over-hype our current world champion. for a dose of humility, LISTEN to him. he's usually not the "Look at how brilliant I am kind of guy..."; instead he frequently points out mistakes he made.  Its really one of his best qualities...


couldnt have said it better myself. great posts.


Hi andrewjeselson2, you could try to discover what is your chess personality. Try to take this test, I found it quite interesting, especially in order to understand myself and how I should play:

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