Positional vs material

TuckerTommy

I tried to find a link or video to explain positional and material advantages, neither of which discussed the subject at length to any great extent. Can someone explain these please and their differences.Thanks

Here_Is_Plenty

Positional is a subjective view of who is winning.  A knight in a forepost/outpost where it can not be attacked by pawns is termed to be worth a rook frequently.  Two 6th rank pawns connected can beat a rook.  Positional usually takes into account mobility of pieces, control of squares and potential.  Material is generally a straight point count.  There is a lot more to it but you are better reading one of the many fine books by grandmasters - I am just a club player.

rockpeter

Imagine you have equal material but your pieces are out and doing stuff.  Imagine now black with a Rook in the corner with their bishop and Knight all bunched up and they can't do nothing.  Well then, even though physically you have equal material, you in fact can say that you are at an advantage in material due to your positional advantage at that particular instance.  Imagine your opponent could have a physical material advantage and all you have is three minor pieces to his five.  Positionally if you have all your minor pieces ready to mate, then your position is at an advantage even though material wise you have less.  That's my understanding of the two but I am still learning.

waffllemaster

Here is plenty is right.  When a book or video talks about a material advantage it just means counting the pieces and adding them up, e.g. pawns are worth 1, knights 3, rooks 5 etc.

Positional advantage means it's not that a player has more pieces, but the pieces they do have are doing more work than their counterparts.  Like HIP said it's usually because they're more mobile.  Maybe your knight is centralized while your opponents is stuck in a corner and can't get out.  Or your rooks are doubled on an open file ready to infiltrate into the enemy's position while your opponents rooks are unconnected.  These are positional advantages.

In my opinion it's not useful to think of a material advantage vs a positional advantage as two completely different things, they're really the same thing just two different ways of looking at it.  Often you'll be able to trade one for the other, even more than once, during a game.  For example those two rooks may infiltrate and win a pawn, meanwhile your opponent uses his time to activate his rooks.  Now activity may be roughly equal, but you've won a pawn.  Your opponent traded material for position and you did the opposite.

Maybe your rooks were so strong you shouldn't have cashed in the positional advantage for just one pawn though.  This is part of the reasoning behind the quote "the threat is stronger than the execution"  i.e. the positional pressure is (sometimes) stronger than if you exchanged it for a pawn (or two, etc).  Sometimes you'll see a strong player not take material and use his move to activate a piece or castle etc.  They want to "cash in" their positional advantage for as much material as possible, and obviously felt that it was too early for too little and so made a "positional" move instead.

TuckerTommy
waffllemaster wrote:

Here is plenty is right.  When a book or video talks about a material advantage it just means counting the pieces and adding them up, e.g. pawns are worth 1, knights 3, rooks 5 etc.

Positional advantage means it's not that a player has more pieces, but the pieces they do have are doing more work than their counterparts.  Like HIP said it's usually because they're more mobile.  Maybe your knight is centralized while your opponents is stuck in a corner and can't get out.  Or your rooks are doubled on an open file ready to infiltrate into the enemy's position while your opponents rooks are unconnected.  These are positional advantages.

In my opinion it's not useful to think of a material advantage vs a positional advantage as two completely different things, they're really the same thing just two different ways of looking at it.  Often you'll be able to trade one for the other, even more than once, during a game.  For example those two rooks may infiltrate and win a pawn, meanwhile your opponent uses his time to activate his rooks.  Now activity may be roughly equal, but you've won a pawn.  Your opponent traded material for position and you did the opposite.

Maybe your rooks were so strong you shouldn't have cashed in the positional advantage for just one pawn though.  This is part of the reasoning behind the quote "the threat is stronger than the execution"  i.e. the positional pressure is (sometimes) stronger than if you exchanged it for a pawn (or two, etc).  Sometimes you'll see a strong player not take material and use his move to activate a piece or castle etc.  They want to "cash in" their positional advantage for as much material as possible, and obviously felt that it was too early for too little and so made a "positional" move instead.


Thanks wafflemaster. I've won a few games where my opponnent won most of my peices but I still managed to checkmate. In chess, based on your explanation, it seems positional advantage is better than material. I've even sacrificed my queen and won games. 

 

I'm sure there's more to it, but you did a great job enlightening.