Understanding beats Tactics, but tactics needs a strong presence in lower levels

TeacherOfPain

Even despite previous claims it is true that chess before 2200-2400 is about 90% tactics. However the understanding is never below tactics as understanding is in tactics so understanding completley outranks tactics. This includes positional play, knowledge of positions and there structures as well as middle game and endgame play as you absolutley need positional knowledge for that. However when talking about most positions and insights before master levels tactics is absolutley neccessary as it speeds up the process and allows much more wins to be avaliabe. There are a lot of games that are lossed because of missed tactics and it is true that calculation can take you a long way. However I don't think it is the best way in my opinion it is just the fact of the game. Most Grandmasters prefer and rely on positional play as strong move after strong move is not made by just knowing tactics alone. Grandmasters are very strong because the lack of weaknesses and the continous way they make strong moves, but if you think that is by tactics alone you are mistaken. Depending on the position depends on the game, however positions will always be reliant on the understanding than the calculation as since humans are not computers we can't rely on calculation to heavily, especially in old age.(Just think about what happened to Tal, there is a reason why he changed to a positional master toward the end of his life. Calculation isn't something a human should be doing forever at least in chess.) So it is very important to understand and master the basis of the game, and then only improve heavily on tactics, understanding is key, no matter what level you are on. There is a reason why the positional masters were always long reinging world champions however the tacticians and the calculated masters were world champions for 1 or 2.
The truth is the type of play of tacticians is to wow people and to make people say, wow that guy is brilliant he spotted that amazing 5,6,7 move combination. Or wow this guy is amazing he literally does all these sacrificing disregarding rules and theory and it is surpasses all the sayings of previous respected grandmasters. And although it is cool to see that, no great attacker would stay that way forever, until you meet players like Botivinik or Smyslov, or Petrosian, or Karpov, or some positional and defensive tank that would win the game in seemingly a quiet yet deadly fashion and would either get that win or draw that they wanted and would be absolutley fine with it. Moreover again later in their life they cannot calculate and they would have to switch over to understanding, and positional play as calculating takes energy and a clear mind, something so simply an older person would lack due to old age.
Due to this it proves my point that chess is 90% tactics between 2200-2400, however when we are talking about levels of masters, IM's, GM's, Super GM's and more, the understanding surpasses a lot of tactics, as Grandmasters seemingly make little to no blunders on a good day. And even on a bad day a master couldn't just simply win a game due to a tactic, a GM is prepared, a GM most of all is tough, and they would always be looking to equalize a game if they were losing, and a lot of the time would capatalize on their opponents mistake to win or get a draw out of a position they had a disadvantage in. However it does depend on the position, but mainly the only thing that matters is understanding the fact that your knowledge and understanding will lead you higher if you want to become a master(NM,FM,IM,GM or Super GM). If you are an amatuer(like me) then the you want to have a solid foundation in positions and the knowledge of them and positional play such as:
These Positional Ideas can include:
Outposts for Knights, and Weak Squares.
A Strong Diagnol for the Bishop( Such as a Fianchetto, or active squares such as C4 or C5).
Advantages Such as Passed pawns and the principle that Guides them that says passed pawns must be pushed.
The Initiative and knowing when to sieze it and start and attack, gain an advantage or use the initiative to improve your position.
To allow your rooks to dominate an open or semi-open file.
To not overpush your pawns and to know when to push a pawn and what squares it would be the most useful guarding.
Know when to open or close a position(You open a position if you have a better position, and you can also close the position if you have a long-term advantage.)
To always have a plan to improve your position, attack, gain an advantage, or to use a tactic.
To attack Isolated pawns, and also know how to defend the isolated pawn.
To make strong pawn chains.
Knowing when to make an exchange sacrifice.
Know what is a good bishop or a bad bishop in a given postion, and know how to use your bishops effectively.
Double up on a file.
Knowing when to simplify to a winning Endgame.
Rooks placed on the seventh rank.
Attacking weak pawns and avoid making weak pawns.
Know how to Evalute positions and see who is better or worse and develop a plan based on the positon Evaluated.
Attack double pawns and avoid making doubled pawns.
These Ideas are the basis of positional understanding and make up the game of chess.
As the Game of chess is about control and the only way to have control of the game is to improve your position and make little to no mistakes, if this happens the game is sure to be a win or a draw.
Tactics will come through a good position through coordination and remember all bad postions will fall eventually, there is no need to rush your opponents demise if he makes foolish moves, and if your opponent improves their positon as much as you do then your game could be equal.

Postitional Understanding takes much patience and in order to be good at evalutating positons you must take in account, piece value, develpoment, king saftey, possible advantages and disadvantages, overall piece activity, or potential piece activity, attacking chances and better or worse Endgame chances. If you evaluate a postion precisley it can help you develop a plan that can help you based on the position.
Another part of positonal understanding is understanding the position well enough that you don't make any Blunder's, Mistakes, or innacurracies to the point in which you lose as positonal players make sure that they take their time and grind out every advantage they can get, and in most positons this is the way to go. Sometimes it is not worth it to rush a tactic or be hasty because it is not uncommon for such moves to end in a blunder or a mistake that can ruin you position and give all the winning chances to the opponent. If you make sure you can improve the postition and attack without your opponent having any counterplay or any advantages, than you will have all the time in the world to win that game and your opponent can do very little to stop it.
Some examples of this could be:
When you have a space advantage and all your pieces look to attack the enemy king.
When the opponent is in a situation when he is in a positional zugswang and can't make any good move.
When your opponent is behind in development and you sieze the initiative to start an attack against the enmy king with more pieces on the board therefore making more threats due to the lack of protection due to poor develpment of pieces and pawns.
When you have a passed pawn and use that advantage to win material, misplace a piece or the king, or to allow lesser moves to be made by the opponent due to the reaction of the passed pawn and overall improve your position due to the lack of a better position by your opponent. ETC...

This proves why knowledge of positions and positional understanding is needed, and have in mind these are just the building blocks, at higher levels I think your understanding has to be multiplied by whatever level you are on each time you are +200 points higher.
However if you are also an Amatuer a good idea would be to get very good at tactics, along with getting good at tactics improve your calculation as well as improve your tactical vision and although this is random even memorize the coordinates(algebra notation) on the board. This is as straightforward as it gets, and this is the guide to getting on a decent level.(now I am not saying it is going to make you improve +1000 elo, but perhaps +100, +200 or maybe even+300 if you are taking all of this into account and are grinding seriously.)

That's all I have to say, hopefully this was helpful for someone.

Master49er

Such a long post I didn’t even read it when I posted this comment

TeacherOfPain

LOL, well it is very informative, just give it a shot. happy.png

Master49er

Just read half of it

Master49er

Wow I realize it is actually very helpful may I use this?

NickawampusLeroy

Truly a teacher. Superbly written.

TeacherOfPain

Yeah no doubt @Master49er go ahead and use it, there is nothing wrong with getting more knoweldge and understanding, that's the reason I put it out here, use it and improve!

@NickawampusLeroy, thank you for your kind words, truly it was thought out for the sake of friends and for the sake of people that wanted/needed help to improve or just to even understand some chess knowledge better. 

Hopefully both of you can use the knowledge(unless you know it already) and it can help both of you become better in chess!

Dsmith42

I agree tactics need to be taught sooner, but I must disagree that positional understanding "beats" tactics.  Without a reasonable tactical depth positional play has no use whatsoever.  I discovered this the hard way - getting picked apart in game after game against a tactical Expert (2000 rated).  I got nowhere until I learned to attack faster and understand a wider range of tactics (particularly that of deflection).  I could eventually challenge and even beat a player at that level, but not without first rising much nearer to his level as a tactician.

Andersen beat Kieseritzky, after all.  The latter had a greater positional understanding, to be sure, but the gap in their tactical depths rendered it a moot point.  Tactics trump positional understanding, positional understanding is really just a tiebreaker for players of approximately equal tactical strength.  There is no such thing as a position devoid of targets.  Whatever structure your style of play may have, understanding that there are tactical exceptions to every rule (Lasker proved as much) is vitally important if you want to improve beyond the mid-amateur level.  If you can't tell what your opponent is up to, you are usually going to lose.

TeacherOfPain

@Dsmith 42

I understand what you mean but most of the world champions were positional masterminds, even Kasparov had a great understanding of positional knowledge, and some of the all time greats include such as Botivnik, Capablanca, Karpov and all the others. The difference in all of them was that their positional understanding was superior than the other a Grandmasters of their time. Even Magnus Carlsen(world #1) and Fabiano Caruana(world #2) have vastly superior positional understanding and that is why they are at the top.

Another grandmaster that is great positionally is Alexander Alkehine and was a master of undermining the center and counter-attacking in which was a positional skill and also he was a world champion as well after Capablanca who was another positional champion.

So I don't know what you mean when you say positional play "trumps" positional play, as judging by world champions, statistics, all time greats, and what grandmasters say about positional and tactical play and more, it shows that positional play is actually a better way of playing once you get to a higher level also as well for the long-term it is also better as it can be played at any age, however like I said before, Mikail Tal had to swith from being a tactical/calculating based grandmaster to being a positional player toward the end of his life as calculating is not a skill you can continue during old age. 

Most of the world champions (12/14) champions were positional powehouses in the exception of Kasparov(who still had incredible positional knowledge;just had a better tactical game) and Tal. Really 13/14 of these grandmasters had incredible positional play and were world champions in their respective times and Magnus Carlsen is still world champion to this day because of how positional dominant he is. 

So when you say that positional understanding is inferior or is "trumped" that is mistaken as by the scorsheets by chess greats shows that by a good margin that most of them were positional masters and tactical masters that calculate are no were near that picture, the closest was Tal that did pure tactical games with low or basic positional understanding. 

Think of a modern day attacking master such as Topalav, he is a great attacker, but do you see him being apart of the world chess championship conversation? No, because his calculating days are over and much respect to him and his rating of 2735 currently and his peak of 2816, however attacking purely is not enough to win and therby furthermore proves my point of why positional play is dominant at higher levels as well could be dominant at lower levels as well. 

That is why I said for 2200-2400 down tactics needs to be mastered, however when we are talking about 2500+ you need to master positional understanding to go places. 

By the way Anderson was a great attacker but that is also another reason why Wilhelm Steinitz, another strong positional player beat Anderrsson most of the time as his positional play was in a different realm than Anderssons attacks and tactics. 

But like I said before 90% of tactics in 2200-2400 should be implemented, you probably lost because you are 500 points below a 2000. That is why not because positional understanding is inferior. 

Respect to you though and to your rating, however you can't say that tactics is better just because you lost because of it, especially if you haven't experienced both positionaly play and higher level players.

Ethan_Z9
TeacherOfPain wrote: I like it

Even despite previous claims it is true that chess before 2200-2400 is about 90% tactics. However the understanding is never below tactics as understanding is in tactics so understanding completley outranks tactics. This includes positional play, knowledge of positions and there structures as well as middle game and endgame play as you absolutley need positional knowledge for that. However when talking about most positions and insights before master levels tactics is absolutley neccessary as it speeds up the process and allows much more wins to be avaliabe. There are a lot of games that are lossed because of missed tactics and it is true that calculation can take you a long way. However I don't think it is the best way in my opinion it is just the fact of the game. Most Grandmasters prefer and rely on positional play as strong move after strong move is not made by just knowing tactics alone. Grandmasters are very strong because the lack of weaknesses and the continous way they make strong moves, but if you think that is by tactics alone you are mistaken. Depending on the position depends on the game, however positions will always be reliant on the understanding than the calculation as since humans are not computers we can't rely on calculation to heavily, especially in old age.(Just think about what happened to Tal, there is a reason why he changed to a positional master toward the end of his life. Calculation isn't something a human should be doing forever at least in chess.) So it is very important to understand and master the basis of the game, and then only improve heavily on tactics, understanding is key, no matter what level you are on. There is a reason why the positional masters were always long reinging world champions however the tacticians and the calculated masters were world champions for 1 or 2.
The truth is the type of play of tacticians is to wow people and to make people say, wow that guy is brilliant he spotted that amazing 5,6,7 move combination. Or wow this guy is amazing he literally does all these sacrificing disregarding rules and theory and it is surpasses all the sayings of previous respected grandmasters. And although it is cool to see that, no great attacker would stay that way forever, until you meet players like Botivinik or Smyslov, or Petrosian, or Karpov, or some positional and defensive tank that would win the game in seemingly a quiet yet deadly fashion and would either get that win or draw that they wanted and would be absolutley fine with it. Moreover again later in their life they cannot calculate and they would have to switch over to understanding, and positional play as calculating takes energy and a clear mind, something so simply an older person would lack due to old age.
Due to this it proves my point that chess is 90% tactics between 2200-2400, however when we are talking about levels of masters, IM's, GM's, Super GM's and more, the understanding surpasses a lot of tactics, as Grandmasters seemingly make little to no blunders on a good day. And even on a bad day a master couldn't just simply win a game due to a tactic, a GM is prepared, a GM most of all is tough, and they would always be looking to equalize a game if they were losing, and a lot of the time would capatalize on their opponents mistake to win or get a draw out of a position they had a disadvantage in. However it does depend on the position, but mainly the only thing that matters is understanding the fact that your knowledge and understanding will lead you higher if you want to become a master(NM,FM,IM,GM or Super GM). If you are an amatuer(like me) then the you want to have a solid foundation in positions and the knowledge of them and positional play such as:
These Positional Ideas can include:
Outposts for Knights, and Weak Squares.
A Strong Diagnol for the Bishop( Such as a Fianchetto, or active squares such as C4 or C5).
Advantages Such as Passed pawns and the principle that Guides them that says passed pawns must be pushed.
The Initiative and knowing when to sieze it and start and attack, gain an advantage or use the initiative to improve your position.
To allow your rooks to dominate an open or semi-open file.
To not overpush your pawns and to know when to push a pawn and what squares it would be the most useful guarding.
Know when to open or close a position(You open a position if you have a better position, and you can also close the position if you have a long-term advantage.)
To always have a plan to improve your position, attack, gain an advantage, or to use a tactic.
To attack Isolated pawns, and also know how to defend the isolated pawn.
To make strong pawn chains.
Knowing when to make an exchange sacrifice.
Know what is a good bishop or a bad bishop in a given postion, and know how to use your bishops effectively.
Double up on a file.
Knowing when to simplify to a winning Endgame.
Rooks placed on the seventh rank.
Attacking weak pawns and avoid making weak pawns.
Know how to Evalute positions and see who is better or worse and develop a plan based on the positon Evaluated.
Attack double pawns and avoid making doubled pawns.
These Ideas are the basis of positional understanding and make up the game of chess.
As the Game of chess is about control and the only way to have control of the game is to improve your position and make little to no mistakes, if this happens the game is sure to be a win or a draw.
Tactics will come through a good position through coordination and remember all bad postions will fall eventually, there is no need to rush your opponents demise if he makes foolish moves, and if your opponent improves their positon as much as you do then your game could be equal.

Postitional Understanding takes much patience and in order to be good at evalutating positons you must take in account, piece value, develpoment, king saftey, possible advantages and disadvantages, overall piece activity, or potential piece activity, attacking chances and better or worse Endgame chances. If you evaluate a postion precisley it can help you develop a plan that can help you based on the position.
Another part of positonal understanding is understanding the position well enough that you don't make any Blunder's, Mistakes, or innacurracies to the point in which you lose as positonal players make sure that they take their time and grind out every advantage they can get, and in most positons this is the way to go. Sometimes it is not worth it to rush a tactic or be hasty because it is not uncommon for such moves to end in a blunder or a mistake that can ruin you position and give all the winning chances to the opponent. If you make sure you can improve the postition and attack without your opponent having any counterplay or any advantages, than you will have all the time in the world to win that game and your opponent can do very little to stop it.
Some examples of this could be:
When you have a space advantage and all your pieces look to attack the enemy king.
When the opponent is in a situation when he is in a positional zugswang and can't make any good move.
When your opponent is behind in development and you sieze the initiative to start an attack against the enmy king with more pieces on the board therefore making more threats due to the lack of protection due to poor develpment of pieces and pawns.
When you have a passed pawn and use that advantage to win material, misplace a piece or the king, or to allow lesser moves to be made by the opponent due to the reaction of the passed pawn and overall improve your position due to the lack of a better position by your opponent. ETC...

 

This proves why knowledge of positions and positional understanding is needed, and have in mind these are just the building blocks, at higher levels I think your understanding has to be multiplied by whatever level you are on each time you are +200 points higher.
However if you are also an Amatuer a good idea would be to get very good at tactics, along with getting good at tactics improve your calculation as well as improve your tactical vision and although this is random even memorize the coordinates(algebra notation) on the board. This is as straightforward as it gets, and this is the guide to getting on a decent level.(now I am not saying it is going to make you improve +1000 elo, but perhaps +100, +200 or maybe even+300 if you are taking all of this into account and are grinding seriously.)

That's all I have to say, hopefully this was helpful for someone.

 

Master49er
TeacherOfPain wrote:

@Dsmith 42

I understand what you mean but most of the world champions were positional masterminds, even Kasparov had a great understanding of positional knowledge, and some of the all time greats include such as Botivnik, Capablanca, Karpov and all the others. The difference in all of them was that their positional understanding was superior than the other a Grandmasters of their time. Even Magnus Carlsen(world #1) and Fabiano Caruana(world #2) have vastly superior positional understanding and that is why they are at the top.

Another grandmaster that is great positionally is Alexander Alkehine and was a master of undermining the center and counter-attacking in which was a positional skill and also he was a world champion as well after Capablanca who was another positional champion.

So I don't know what you mean when you say positional play "trumps" positional play, as judging by world champions, statistics, all time greats, and what grandmasters say about positional and tactical play and more, it shows that positional play is actually a better way of playing once you get to a higher level also as well for the long-term it is also better as it can be played at any age, however like I said before, Mikail Tal had to swith from being a tactical/calculating based grandmaster to being a positional player toward the end of his life as calculating is not a skill you can continue during old age. 

Most of the world champions (12/14) champions were positional powehouses in the exception of Kasparov(who still had incredible positional knowledge;just had a better tactical game) and Tal. Really 13/14 of these grandmasters had incredible positional play and were world champions in their respective times and Magnus Carlsen is still world champion to this day because of how positional dominant he is. 

So when you say that positional understanding is inferior or is "trumped" that is mistaken as by the scorsheets by chess greats shows that by a good margin that most of them were positional masters and tactical masters that calculate are no were near that picture, the closest was Tal that did pure tactical games with low or basic positional understanding. 

Think of a modern day attacking master such as Topalav, he is a great attacker, but do you see him being apart of the world chess championship conversation? No, because his calculating days are over and much respect to him and his rating of 2735 currently and his peak of 2816, however attacking purely is not enough to win and therby furthermore proves my point of why positional play is dominant at higher levels as well could be dominant at lower levels as well. 

That is why I said for 2200-2400 down tactics needs to be mastered, however when we are talking about 2500+ you need to master positional understanding to go places. 

By the way Anderson was a great attacker but that is also another reason why Wilhelm Steinitz, another strong positional player beat Anderrsson most of the time as his positional play was in a different realm than Anderssons attacks and tactics. 

But like I said before 90% of tactics in 2200-2400 should be implemented, you probably lost because you are 500 points below a 2000. That is why not because positional understanding is inferior. 

Respect to you though and to your rating, however you can't say that tactics is better just because you lost because of it, especially if you haven't experienced both positionaly play and higher level players.

Well said!

KetoOn1963

The age old argument.  Tactics vs. strategy,  NO matter how many times it is said: "Tactics flow from a superior position."  People just dont get it.

How do you get a superior position?

Space advantage.

Piece Activity.

Material Advantage.

Weakness in the opponents position.

This is strategy, and this is where tactics flow from.  And this is why tactics are important at the lower levels.  Players will definitely understand tactical motifs like pin, fork, skewer, etc. than they will "How to create a weak square, or pawn."

TeacherOfPain

@Mink78 thanks for your feedback My friend...

@Master49er thank you for your feedback My friend as well...

The goal is always to share understanding and it is ok to disagree sometimes, people have different ways and views on playing and looking at chess. So  it is understandable however it is also neccessary for people to understand to get the point across and so they can improve, as if people think that their way of thinking is valid all the time, they can't improve. 

I do know myself that sometimes I am wrong and just have to come clean about it as we are all human beings so it is very important to remember that. 

Btw @KetoOn1963 I absolutley agree with you, that is how tactics are found and the better position the more tactics that will be found, that is just the nature of the game. Another way of spotting tactics is to exploit mistakes, however again Chess is not a game you win rather the other person lose so due to that exploiting mistakes could later on positionally ruin a game and that is why we have to be careful in exploits and all things like that including sacrifices, making weak squares and differences in pawn play. 

Again like you said those things give you a superior position, and it is a valid and I think the only "correct" way to play if you want to get a win or a draw. Of course a win is not guranteed AS there is just winning chances, and this is in all positons, even in winning positions there is always chances for stalemate (As lets say you are in a queen and kingvs king endgame) or pepetual checks or three fold repitions, so like I said there are winning chances in positions but it is not neccessarily given to win automatically. 

This is why I going on autopilot is not good, and I am a victum of this sometimes. 

But back to the topic, yes @KetoOn1963 I do agree with you and I think it is definitley needed to be taught and understood at lower levels to make younger talent realize how to make a more efficient tool in tactics for their arsenal...

 

Dias_embergen

:tup

Laskersnephew

"A master strategist who is not also a master of tactics is doomed to a life of disappointment"

little_ernie

I agree with your ideas. Thanks for the post. You're a good chess teacher.

Some might say you'd benefit from an English teacher.

1. Tediously long sentences ; one had 60 words.

2. Excessive prepositional phrases.

3. Redundancy of ideas & words.

4. Rife with misspellings & inappropriate Capitalization.

I'm not an English teacher.  I did benefit from a book  Why Not Say it Clearly  by Lester King.  I realize English is not the native language of many contributors. 

 

lcravethatmineral
TeacherOfPain wrote:

Even despite previous claims it is true that chess before 2200-2400 is about 90% tactics. However the understanding is never below tactics as understanding is in tactics so understanding completley outranks tactics. This includes positional play, knowledge of positions and there structures as well as middle game and endgame play as you absolutley need positional knowledge for that. However when talking about most positions and insights before master levels tactics is absolutley neccessary as it speeds up the process and allows much more wins to be avaliabe. There are a lot of games that are lossed because of missed tactics and it is true that calculation can take you a long way. However I don't think it is the best way in my opinion it is just the fact of the game. Most Grandmasters prefer and rely on positional play as strong move after strong move is not made by just knowing tactics alone. Grandmasters are very strong because the lack of weaknesses and the continous way they make strong moves, but if you think that is by tactics alone you are mistaken. Depending on the position depends on the game, however positions will always be reliant on the understanding than the calculation as since humans are not computers we can't rely on calculation to heavily, especially in old age.(Just think about what happened to Tal, there is a reason why he changed to a positional master toward the end of his life. Calculation isn't something a human should be doing forever at least in chess.) So it is very important to understand and master the basis of the game, and then only improve heavily on tactics, understanding is key, no matter what level you are on. There is a reason why the positional masters were always long reinging world champions however the tacticians and the calculated masters were world champions for 1 or 2.
The truth is the type of play of tacticians is to wow people and to make people say, wow that guy is brilliant he spotted that amazing 5,6,7 move combination. Or wow this guy is amazing he literally does all these sacrificing disregarding rules and theory and it is surpasses all the sayings of previous respected grandmasters. And although it is cool to see that, no great attacker would stay that way forever, until you meet players like Botivinik or Smyslov, or Petrosian, or Karpov, or some positional and defensive tank that would win the game in seemingly a quiet yet deadly fashion and would either get that win or draw that they wanted and would be absolutley fine with it. Moreover again later in their life they cannot calculate and they would have to switch over to understanding, and positional play as calculating takes energy and a clear mind, something so simply an older person would lack due to old age.
Due to this it proves my point that chess is 90% tactics between 2200-2400, however when we are talking about levels of masters, IM's, GM's, Super GM's and more, the understanding surpasses a lot of tactics, as Grandmasters seemingly make little to no blunders on a good day. And even on a bad day a master couldn't just simply win a game due to a tactic, a GM is prepared, a GM most of all is tough, and they would always be looking to equalize a game if they were losing, and a lot of the time would capatalize on their opponents mistake to win or get a draw out of a position they had a disadvantage in. However it does depend on the position, but mainly the only thing that matters is understanding the fact that your knowledge and understanding will lead you higher if you want to become a master(NM,FM,IM,GM or Super GM). If you are an amatuer(like me) then the you want to have a solid foundation in positions and the knowledge of them and positional play such as:
These Positional Ideas can include:
Outposts for Knights, and Weak Squares.
A Strong Diagnol for the Bishop( Such as a Fianchetto, or active squares such as C4 or C5).
Advantages Such as Passed pawns and the principle that Guides them that says passed pawns must be pushed.
The Initiative and knowing when to sieze it and start and attack, gain an advantage or use the initiative to improve your position.
To allow your rooks to dominate an open or semi-open file.
To not overpush your pawns and to know when to push a pawn and what squares it would be the most useful guarding.
Know when to open or close a position(You open a position if you have a better position, and you can also close the position if you have a long-term advantage.)
To always have a plan to improve your position, attack, gain an advantage, or to use a tactic.
To attack Isolated pawns, and also know how to defend the isolated pawn.
To make strong pawn chains.
Knowing when to make an exchange sacrifice.
Know what is a good bishop or a bad bishop in a given postion, and know how to use your bishops effectively.
Double up on a file.
Knowing when to simplify to a winning Endgame.
Rooks placed on the seventh rank.
Attacking weak pawns and avoid making weak pawns.
Know how to Evalute positions and see who is better or worse and develop a plan based on the positon Evaluated.
Attack double pawns and avoid making doubled pawns.
These Ideas are the basis of positional understanding and make up the game of chess.
As the Game of chess is about control and the only way to have control of the game is to improve your position and make little to no mistakes, if this happens the game is sure to be a win or a draw.
Tactics will come through a good position through coordination and remember all bad postions will fall eventually, there is no need to rush your opponents demise if he makes foolish moves, and if your opponent improves their positon as much as you do then your game could be equal.

Postitional Understanding takes much patience and in order to be good at evalutating positons you must take in account, piece value, develpoment, king saftey, possible advantages and disadvantages, overall piece activity, or potential piece activity, attacking chances and better or worse Endgame chances. If you evaluate a postion precisley it can help you develop a plan that can help you based on the position.
Another part of positonal understanding is understanding the position well enough that you don't make any Blunder's, Mistakes, or innacurracies to the point in which you lose as positonal players make sure that they take their time and grind out every advantage they can get, and in most positons this is the way to go. Sometimes it is not worth it to rush a tactic or be hasty because it is not uncommon for such moves to end in a blunder or a mistake that can ruin you position and give all the winning chances to the opponent. If you make sure you can improve the postition and attack without your opponent having any counterplay or any advantages, than you will have all the time in the world to win that game and your opponent can do very little to stop it.
Some examples of this could be:
When you have a space advantage and all your pieces look to attack the enemy king.
When the opponent is in a situation when he is in a positional zugswang and can't make any good move.
When your opponent is behind in development and you sieze the initiative to start an attack against the enmy king with more pieces on the board therefore making more threats due to the lack of protection due to poor develpment of pieces and pawns.
When you have a passed pawn and use that advantage to win material, misplace a piece or the king, or to allow lesser moves to be made by the opponent due to the reaction of the passed pawn and overall improve your position due to the lack of a better position by your opponent. ETC...

 

This proves why knowledge of positions and positional understanding is needed, and have in mind these are just the building blocks, at higher levels I think your understanding has to be multiplied by whatever level you are on each time you are +200 points higher.
However if you are also an Amatuer a good idea would be to get very good at tactics, along with getting good at tactics improve your calculation as well as improve your tactical vision and although this is random even memorize the coordinates(algebra notation) on the board. This is as straightforward as it gets, and this is the guide to getting on a decent level.(now I am not saying it is going to make you improve +1000 elo, but perhaps +100, +200 or maybe even+300 if you are taking all of this into account and are grinding seriously.)

That's all I have to say, hopefully this was helpful for someone.

Even at my relatively low level of 1800 uscf, tactical blunders are rare. It's not uncommon for players at my level, to play a game with zero blunders. Positional chess is the deciding factor in most of the games, even in the games with tactical mistakes it's almost always the player who is positionaly worse. 

Laskersnephew

Tactical mistakes and oversights are extremely common at the 1800 USCF level. Overlooked opportunities to win--or drop material are common.. Any 1800-player who thinks he's routinely playing with zero blunders is just fooling himself.  

lcravethatmineral
Laskersnephew wrote:

Tactical mistakes and oversights are extremely common at the 1800 USCF level. Overlooked opportunities to win--or drop material are common.. Any 1800-player who thinks he's routinely playing with zero blunders is just fooling himself.  

Play me in a 15|10 game then, we'll see how many tactical mistakes I'll make.

KetoOn1963
Laskersnephew wrote:

Tactical mistakes and oversights are extremely common at the 1800 USCF level. Overlooked opportunities to win--or drop material are common.. Any 1800-player who thinks he's routinely playing with zero blunders is just fooling himself.  

Agreed....as a USCF A player.  Games even at that level are decided by mistakes, blunders, and tactics.