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I understand playing the game using tactics, but can someone explain to me what exactly is meant by positional playing?
Pawn structure, control of squares, knight vs bishop, space, etc. That kind of thing.
Playing for a positional advantage - something without any immediate tangible positive consequences for you, but which feels intuitively like it brings you closer to victory without helping you accomplish an immediate tactical goal (such as attacking the King or winning material - if you're playing positionally, your aim is to have a positional advantage which you can more easily convert to a material advantage or a checkmate win tactically.
Thanks. It sounds as if a positional player is seeing more moves ahead than a tactical player.
Tactics will come flying to you automaticly from positional superiour play.
Ah, so that's how it works!
Positional play is that kind of "magic" that engines like Fritz, Rybka or Hiarcs do when even without exchanging any piece, you see that the evaluation of the position is changing with every move (against you, of course)... =0.00, =0.21 +=0.89, +/-1.23 and then +-2.58, and you've lost without knowing how. That's positional play.
Tactics are sex.
Positional play is personality, grooming, sense of humor, social skill, and status.
Positional players confuse their opponents by creating too many possibilities to calculate in a short amount of time, by controlling squares they create more possible moves.
Often the numbers computers calculate for chess positions are based on positional judgement - Centrally placed knights, bishops with high mobility (+0.1 for each square the bishop controls), rook mobility, queen mobility, king safety (can be checked, are there x-ray attacks) ... and ofc the amount of material on the board and forcably on the board in the next 10 moves.
So computers use positional evaluations for each static position, then the best position is pulled out of the tree, the move which leads to it is played. But each position including the moves before a checkmate is found, has to be analysed with a positional analyser
Thanks everyone ... for the excellent advice (and also the funnies)!
So does seem that positional play is better than tatical play?
There is no positional play without the tactics.
Positional play is a plan of what to do, what you want to achieve in a position.
Tactics is actual plan implementation: this is especially true for positional sacrifices (the most often being pawn sac for initiative, for getting an outpost for your piece, for controlling dark squares etc.). Those are the most magical moves which regular calculations cannot explain (especially when it is a piece or even queen sacs) because they do not lead to immediate material advantage or checkmate: their effects are much more long-term.
Typical tactics is also very important. It can help you win more quickly or prevent dangerous counter-measures planned by your opponent. This is a very common situation at lower (say, <2200 elo) level when a positional player achieves huge advantage but fails to implement the plan because of blundering your opponent's combination which radically change the evaluation of position (perpetual check, stalemate, forced repetition or even completely changing the outcome when the losing side gets mating attack or wins material).
Thus a chess player should learn tactics at first and only then improve positional skills. In a quiet positional game you must always accurately calculate tactical possibilities - especially those of your opponent. If you miss a quick win the game will just last longer but if you blunder opponent's combination you draw or even lose instead of win
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