Improving positional play

TeacherOfPain

@ketoOn1963, and @ajl721

I can't wait until OTB can start again and hopefully the competition hasn't faded, however if we are continually playing on chess.com whether daily, blitz, or rapid, we are still playing and continually improving, and if we are not improving we are steadily getting more experienced with different positions and diffferent moves and different mindsets in the game.

Honestly though it depends on how this goes for this virus and honestly it is affecting a lot of people and I am hoping it will end very soon. I mean who knew a virus could affect the livelyhood of so many things, also along with the stockmarket crashing in the beginning of april we are still recovering from that,and all the while above all games it has to affect chess, and basketball, Cmon. 

But with all respect and care I hope that everyone is ok and that everyone will be alright doing this time. 

Also @KetoOn1963, why don't you like to play OTB or teach chess as you used to? Sure I could understand it can be demanding and time consuming but is their a specific reason you stopped?(not quited, but stopped for the time being perhaps?)

It is definently your decision and it is totally fine if you don't want to share, but I just want to understand how you feel toward it, that's all. 

GanondorfMain

What is OTB?

blueemu
Jamari01 wrote:

What is OTB?

Over the Board. Playing the game in person, not over the internet.

GanondorfMain

oh ok

KetoOn1963
TeacherOfPain wrote:

@ketoOn1963, and @ajl721

I can't wait until OTB can start again and hopefully the competition hasn't faded, however if we are continually playing on chess.com whether daily, blitz, or rapid, we are still playing and continually improving, and if we are not improving we are steadily getting more experienced with different positions and diffferent moves and different mindsets in the game.

Honestly though it depends on how this goes for this virus and honestly it is affecting a lot of people and I am hoping it will end very soon. I mean who knew a virus could affect the livelyhood of so many things, also along with the stockmarket crashing in the beginning of april we are still recovering from that,and all the while above all games it has to affect chess, and basketball, Cmon. 

But with all respect and care I hope that everyone is ok and that everyone will be alright doing this time. 

Also @KetoOn1963, why don't you like to play OTB or teach chess as you used to? Sure I could understand it can be demanding and time consuming but is their a specific reason you stopped?(not quited, but stopped for the time being perhaps?)

It is definently your decision and it is totally fine if you don't want to share, but I just want to understand how you feel toward it, that's all. 

 

Playing and teaching has always been something i enjoyed doing, and looked forward to.  But since this quarantine thing started?  I haven't missed it.  Its actually a relief to not have to put lessons together, prepare for tournaments, or meet with friends every Friday to teach chess.  I guess put simply, I just dont want to put in the effort anymore.  Who knows...maybe  that will change at some point.

I miss the people.  I miss the interaction.  I miss seeing people i only see once or twice a year.  I miss sitting at the Pai Gow table with GM Enrico Sevillano.  But i dont miss the other stuff.

TeacherOfPain

@WSama I think you played the opening fairly well. However the Taimonov strucure of the sicilian can be tricky for some players since it is more of a positional opening in nature. Though this game didn't transpose into the Taimonov variation, there is some ideas that can come from a game such as this, however since the Alapin variation was played for the early c3 to d4 thrust, it is definitley more of a positional game.  

Furthermore going into move 7 I personally would've preferred e5 as it gains space, and since c5 is not a threat to hit the center, it could've been a good option to play as there would've been less counterplay in it, although d6 was avaliable by black if it would've been played. I would've preferred 7.e5 instead of 7.Bd3, but Bd3 was also fine, it is just a preference like I said. 

I feel like 10.Nb5 is not neccessary as you could develop a piece or advance in the center to gain space, and since the king is castled, the knight on the kingside has little manuverability if the pawn would've been pushed to 10.e5. in the best case he would get a doubled pawn, in the worse case his kingside structure would be destroyed after 10.e5, 11.Ng4 11.h3, 11.Nh6, and then 12.Bxh6 12.gxh6. This would be the move after if he would go to g5, so he would go to d5 and would have to have a doulbled pawn if your would've pushed to e5 at that time. Or then he would go to Ne8 and then he couldn't activate his rook, and his knight would be passive the whole game, and his kingside would've been exposed. There is simply too many ways black would be at a disadvantage is 10.e5 was played, but again it is ok. It is true he could use the knight to for pushing d6 though, there is a lot of routes good and bad, but still blacks kingside is seen as weaker and your pieces could jump in and create attacks much easier in that position than if the knight was f6.

 You made some other mistakes and some other good moves, honeslty it doesn't matter, the only thing that matters is if you learn from them. 

Nobody is perfect but I only made a partial review, you just need to do better in the middle game with the ideas and all, the opening was fine, but wih this game I couldn't see your endgame skill, honestly though your positional skill was not used to full effect because you weren't grinding advantages, gaining space or using your developments to the fullest, I felt like you were passive agressive in a way and if you would've just truste yourself and your ability along with experience you could've beaten your opponent. 

By move 18 I felt like your position was to passive, if you were going for a more active approach it would've gave more play, which could've lead to more advantages and better ways to implement and use ideas, but the positional aspect of the game wasn't used because of how your position was inactive at the time of move 17 and beyond. 

I was trying to give an honest review however that is not my full depth it was just an outline on what could've been helped in my opinion, sorry if I was too judgemental.  My analyzing is not perfect I just go based off what I have learned and what I may see. 

TeacherOfPain

@KetoOn1963, I can't relate but I can understand how it can feel to do something, day in and day out and do it continually in a cycle putting your mind, heart and soul into and honestly it is ok. 

Everyone deserves a break and a time off, and there is nothing wrong with that truth be told. This quarantine thing has got me realizing some important factors as well and how important everything is from a wide perspective, so I understand and many others do too.

Teaching and Playing is fun, but as well as for me there are boundaries and certain times I don't want to play either as most of us have a life outside of chess and we are taken to other places due to our experiences in them. Since I am young my dedication is still active, but even all ages of people can lose interest and the enegy in something they like as well, but taking a break is good and sometimes is what someone needs. 

That is something I believe in and it even helps the mental health of a person and how they can balance their life as well

KetoOn1963
TeacherOfPain wrote:

@KetoOn1963, I can't relate but I can understand how it can feel to do something, day in and day out and do it continually in a cycle putting your mind, heart and soul into and honestly it is ok. 

Everyone deserves a break and a time off, and there is nothing wrong with that truth be told. This quarantine thing has got me realizing some important factors as well and how important everything is from a wide perspective, so I understand and many others do too.

Teaching and Playing is fun, but as well as for me there are boundaries and certain times I don't want to play either as most of us have a life outside of chess and we are taken to other places due to our experiences in them. Since I am young my dedication is still active, but even all ages of people can lose interest and the enegy in something they like as well, but taking a break is good and sometimes is what someone needs. 

That is something I believe in and it even helps the mental health of a person and how they can balance their life as well

Good...Us old guys can turn things over to you youngins :-)

RussBell
blueemu wrote:

If you want to read a brief introduction to a few of the concepts involved in positional assessment (Space, Time, Force, Pawn Structure, etc) you could try reading the first two pages of this thread, and playing through the sample games:

https://www.chess.com/forum/view/general/gm-larry-evans-method-of-static-analysis

 

Excellent stuff!  

@blueemu - I think your exposition in the aforementioned forum thread could be turned into a very good blog article!

Learn more about Force, Time, Space & Pawn Structure from the books previously mentioned by Larry Evans and Yasser Seirawan, commented on here....

Good Positional Chess, Planning & Strategy Books for Beginners and Beyond...

https://www.chess.com/blog/RussBell/introduction-to-positional-chess-planning-strategy

TeacherOfPain

@BlackWarmaster, I don't believe you are a "weak player",
you probably just don't have the confidence to admit that you can go to better heights. There is no such thing as a weak player, only a player that is less experienced and how do you know if you are less experienced yet? You probably have a lot of potential and could do well, so I don't believe you are a weak player despite how many blunders you make or what not, as we are all human and nobody is perfect, so with this said you are not a "weak player", you just need to play more, stay dedicated, study and do the best you can, and the rest will be figure itself out for you if you do the same.

KingSideInvasion

Personally speaking, I am a very pattern-based person, so I find engraining patterns much better than learning "principles" or "do's and don'ts". 

 

This is what I would do if I were in your shoes (My rating is 1600 so I'm not quite as credible as some other people on this thread)

 

  • Look over dozens of classical chess games and try to understand why they are making the moves
  • Watch youtubers that commentate on their own games (Chessfactor, Eric Rosen, Chess Network, etc.) And try to understand what they mean
  • Study positional patterns and basic pawn structure
  • PLAY A LOT and analyze your games

 

IF you do want a full guide I would recommend "BEGINNER TO 2000 - COMPLETE CHESS STRATEGY" it's an excellent playlist on YouTube 

TeacherOfPain

@KetoOn1963, No doubt that is always a good sign, for the older generations to help the new!

TeacherOfPain

@KingSideInvasion, Yes again of what good resources can be used, it is proven that there is no specific way to go that you can only go the way that is best for you. 

I didn't touch a single book, but I did watch videos, and annotated a bunch of master games and along with that watched a chess analyzer named Agadmator on youtube.

There are a bunch of resources to help your positional play @Jamari01 and they are abundant on the platform on the internet, youtube especially.

KingSideInvasion
TeacherOfPain wrote:

@KingSideInvasion, Yes again of what good resources can be used, it is proven that there is no specific way to go that you can only go the way that is best for you. 

I didn't touch a single book, but I did watch videos, and annotated a bunch of master games and along with that watched a chess analyzer named Agadmator on youtube.

There are a bunch of resources to help your positional play @Jamari01 and they are abundant on the platform on the internet, youtube especially.

Yes, I got to 1600 in a year, I think it has to do with my love of chess and not studying the conventional way. 

TeacherOfPain

Yes for me my grind came from experience and learning from getting crapped on daily, but I studied for 6 months on chess knoweldge from pdfs, videos, anaylzing, annotating, lessons, basic endgames and checkmates, checkmatepatterns and all mating patters from beginner to advanced, and learned various other important things such as the becoming better positionally etc. from that time all i know is from I am up here in the 1700's which is nice.

But honestly I got up here recently since I have been on the grind, my goal is to make it in 1850/1900+ in blitz before the summer is over, and I think this is more than doable. If feel like my chess knowledge and understanding could cover a lot and it is very broad as 6 months of study may not seem like a lot but it is and it will do a lot for you later on I will tell you that as for the things I have experienced it has made a lot of things easier for me in the longrun.  

But that is my chess story. 

Nicator65
Jamari01 wrote:

What's the best way to get better at positional play? I feel that my positional awareness is one of my biggest weaknesses.

To clarify the concept: Positional play is balancing active play (pressure, initiative, tactical solutions) from afar.

Although I can imagine the possibility of someone playing accurately in every kind of position, meaning they understand or know the pressure, initiative, and tactical solutions that may arise from any given position, I don't know of anyone with such knowledge and talent.

For most is hard work and to specialize. For example, I believe Karpov was already a GM when he began playing the Sicilian as Black (he was 1...e5 against 1.e4 since his childhood). Karpov is generally regarded as one of the best positional players in history, yet his Sicilians in the early '70s left much to be desired. Of course, due to his talent and hard work he solved the problems in little time (for most of us the whole life isn't enough). Taking Karpov as an example, again, he began playing 1.d4 regularly only after losing the world title in the '80s, and he reached his maximum competitive form when he wasn't the World Champion anymore, mostly due to his better understanding of how things would evolve in systems arising from 1.d4.

Then, to answer your question, you must begin to solve the problem by parts. Positional play is about not engaging in forced active play until you have the "better ground", mostly due to the accumulation of "small advantages" which, paradoxically, are often obtained through small active operations. This is because without having better ground you can't tell if the forced lines will favor you, and if it's the opponent who has the better ground, logic dictates he will come out on top.

Now, which are these "small advantages"? That's the specializing part. In some systems, they are what Steinitz identified (weaknesses, control of the center, open lines, kings' security, etc.), but in many others the advantages are tied to harmony and coordination as to develop and deny active play simultaneously. Let me give you an example. Take the Boleslavsky structure in the Sicilian (Black's pawns in d6 and e5 against White's pawn in e4). Yes, there is a weak square in d5 and a backward pawn in d6, but it's difficult to find or create any other weaknesses in Black's camp. It turns out that defending d6 is rather easy with just a bishop in e7, thus leaving the whole Black army somewhat free to coordinate actively... which may put White on the defense and no way to exploit the static weaknesses. Thus, positional play in that specific structure often revolves in operations on the king and queenside rather than the squares d6 and d5, because White gains little by only playing against them, and Black knows that the mere ...Pd6-d5 push often clarifies the situation and leads to complete equalizing.

WSama

@TeacherOfPain, thanks for the lesson. Honestly I can't even comment on some of your ideas because they are somewhat foreign to my style of play. That is of course what makes it interesting - it's challenging. I'm going to play around with it tongue.png🍴. 

Edit

I think most of my passivity stems from my understanding of the endgame. I see certain positions I don't want to end up in later on in the game and I then avoid certain moves and trades. This is an issue I've had to remind myself of. I remind myself that I can't hold on to everything at once, as in I can't calculate the entire game. Those very positions I'm avoiding might just be winning ones if I remember to take it a step at a time.

It's like how some players might avoid a double pawn structure at all costs, but in truth there are certain situations when a double pawn structure might be winning, but of course if you've already decided against it before you've even began the game, then it's going to go very differently.

TeacherOfPain

No problem @WSama, always glad to help, again my analyzing is not perfect but it helped you in any way that was effective so it was good time spent...

Also, play how you need to play if you feel like you need to play passive or more safe then go for it.  I can't judge your playstyle, only can I judge moves that can be seen as better or worse in a specific position, the same goes for engines as how would they know anybodies playstyle? Well they don't so it is fine to play passive and if you are better at playing passive, stick to what you are most comfortable. But I will say that switching up your mindset is good for diversity and different ways of looking at the game. 

For me personally I don't have a style, I just play as active as possible and see what I can do out of a game. 

But I will tell you if you get good at the endgame, you won't mind what ending you get to or trading specific pieces to an endgame,(unless your are in an inferior position, don't know the endgame etc.) as you would just be good at all endgames and dominate in them because of how confident and comfortable you feel in them. This comes in experience, but it also comes in study so study the middle game and Endgame and your game will definintly improve, it helped me so I it should help you as well. 

But anyways your welcome and hopefully this has been helpful to you, and you @Jamari01.