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Coaches and international masters/GMs frequently speak about the 'characteristics of a position'. What does this mean?
I am considering working on this aspect. My coach always used to tell me to look at games of GMs but I always brushed aside that advice thinking I won't understand them anyway. but today I went through some games today of Judith Polgar(white side of panov botvinnik attack), some games of Lasker(white side of accelerated dragon)
you should also make a club where we can study una nnotated games. That way we bring in fresh insights rather than just agreeing with the commentary.
...My coach always used to tell me to look at games of GMs but I always brushed aside that advice thinking I won't understand them anyway...
Try going over Master games played during the late 1800s to mid 1900s. People like Paulsen, Reti, Zukertort, Alekhine... the pre-Botvinnik era. Master chess was somewhat simpler then, because defensive technique was less evolved.
Actually we study the games without reading the comments. We just check afterwards our ideas with what the author wrote.
I've never heard the expression "characteristics of a position," but the regular English meaning would refer to *anything* about the position, not just imbalances. For example, if Black fianchettoed kingside that wouldn't be an imbalance, but it would be a characteristic.
Perhaps you are write, but usually you don't go through everything on a position, but the most relevant ("characteristic") aspects. For example, the fianchettoed bishop is not part of a characteristic, but perhaps the blocked (or free) diagonal of this bishop. An open file is important if you have rooks, but in a pawn ending you forget everything about files and think on other things (opposition, triangulation, etc.).