Positional Play - Part Two

Playing Positional Chess

Positional play can be summerized as a more quiet patient way of playing for small gains, e.g., creating a weakness to be attacked later, or gaining control of a square. Usually devoid of wild, bizarre, berserker style frenzied attacks and early mating tacitcs.

If you have not read Positional Play part one, do so now. It is necessary to fully understand the basics involved to build a platform for the more involved and complex studies of this page.

Positional Play - Part One

How do most chess players define playing positional chess?

One definition is that playing positional chess is moving or maneuvering in a style of play that is based on the exploitation of many small advantages.

But is can be much more than this simple definition as you will soon see.

What is a Positional Player?
A positional player may choose as his style to use a purely logical approach to chess, breaking each game down and analyzing it with the rigor of a scientist. But the skilled positional player would rather rely on delicate maneuvers and subtle positional understanding imbuing their games with clarity and depth and rendering each game with the artistic flair of a classical musician.

What is important is the pride he has to use his acquired chess skills that mater to overpower his opponents with superior positional knowledge and basic chess principles of Opening Principles, Strategy, Middlegame theory and Endgame theory that he is going to use in wining a game of chess. Not relying on his opponent to seriously blunder or run out of time to win the game.

Positional players are more concerned with restraint and centralization than with the forcing play of the attacker's style. The positional player may spend time in planning and slowing building up a solid defensive position, a knight outpost, and concentrate on the strategy of controlling the center.

Positional players are more concerned with adhering to the basic principles of chess especially with Chess Strategy, with such important principles as pawn structure and the many ideas it is concerned with.

Where it is normal for players to prevent a opponents pawn chain from advancing, the positional player using his restraint theme tries to hold the whole wing in check,

The positional player uses restraint in using anti knight moves instead of attacking the knights with his bishops. He may slowly squeeze a opponent to death in restricting his space. He uses the principles of gaining an advantage in obtaining more space than his opponent has.

The positional player is not of the opinion that every single move must accomplish something such that a player will only seek for moves that threaten something or for a threat to be defended against. He may be more concerned with his housekeeping choirs to prevent attacks and make a solid defense against them.

The positional player will make moves to strengthen his position and these moves may not be defensive or threatening in any way. Moves that give a position more security against attack and make a position more solid. This may be accomplished by over protecting important pieces, positions or squares.

The positional player understands how to safeguard a position as opposed to the combinational player who may only have attack on his mind and is preoccupied with making his opponent concerned with defensive moves.

Positional players look for key points and key squares to take control of, occupy and protect from attack.

A positional player may even protect a point that is not now a key point not only for the sake of that point, but also because he knows that the piece which he uses for its defense must gain strength by the mere contact with that point.

He knows that this point or pawn may be strategically important later on in the endgame for example. A single passed pawn may win the game if it can be planed for earlier in the game.

A erroneous conception is that many players are under the impression that positional players are above all concerned with the accumulation of small advantages in order to exploit them in the endgame.

In contradiction to this, the accumulation of small advantages is by no means the most important component of positional play. It may be important but it may be overestimated as well if a player's focus is so fixed on just accumulating small advantages that he ignores more important considerations.

What is important is in the prevention of your opponent in getting significant advantages against you, like him making a freeing pawn move. A protected passed pawn may easily decide the game. The positional player sees to it that he arranges his pieces in such a way as to prevent it from happening.

Controling the Center
The positional player knows how to take control and fight for control of the center early in the game. He knows of the importance of gaining the occupation of the central squares and of keeping that occupation. He must be most concerned with the demobilizing force to control the center.

The control of the center depends not on a mere occupation, the placing of our pawns there, but rather on our general effectiveness there, and this may be determined by a number of other factors.

Pawns are the most stable and best suited for building a solid center, but centrally posted pieces can take their place as well. Pressure can be exerted on the enemy center by the long range action of Rooks and Bishops directed on it as well. The crippling of the enemies pawn structure in the center can be a prelude to a complete collapse of the enemy's control of the center.

The importance of the center is and must be of great significance as then it can be a base for further operations. If we have built up our game in the center, we have from there the possibility of exercising influence on both wings at the same time, and of embarking on a diversion should the opportunity arise. With out a strong position in the center a healthy position is definitely impossible.

The exception being of the Hyper-modern openings that surrender the center in order to attack it from the wings.

Our concerned should be with the overprotection of strategically important points. We should provide a defense in excess of what may be needed to lay up a store of defense for protection.

Weak points are over protected as a conception of strategic importance. However the law of over protection applies in general only to strong points. Weak points can only lay claim to over protection in such cases where they help to support other strong points.

It may be said that positional play is nothing more than a fight between the mobility on one side and the efforts to restrain the other side. So that in this struggle it is very important to over protect as a means to an end.

Positional Play and Pawns
It is then of the greatest importance to strive for the mobility of your pawns, for that mobility can exercise a crushing effect if it expands. So then it is also of the greatest importance to guard against making weakening pawn moves or bad pawn moves that destroy the advantage of a strong pawn structure. You must know and study about the strategy of pawn structure if you ever hope to be a good positional chess player.

A positional player knows that its pawn moves that cause an imbalance and a weakening of the pawn structure. He knows very well that most imbalances are caused by pawn moves that create pawn weaknesses that can be exploited, both by you and by your opponents.

Here is a list of pawn structure concepts that you should know about.
1. Connected Pawns
2. Backward Pawn
3. Isolated Pawn
4. Doubled Pawns
5. Passed Pawns
6. Pawn Nail
7. Pawn Wedge
8. Pawn Chains
9. Pawn Cover of the Castled King
10. Isolated Pawn in the Center
11. Hanging Pawns

We have much more to say about pawns with pages devoted just to pawn playing.

Study the Games of the Masters
If you wish to know more about how the philosophy and strategy of positional play came about you are advised to study the Masters who are bound up in this history of positional play.
First came Steinitz, who at first what he had to say was so unfamiliar that his modern principles would not immediately become popular.

Next there followed Tarrasch, who took hold of Steinitz's ideas and then diluted them so the public would accept them. Steinitz was most known for his conception of controlling the center.
To control the center effectively one needs to know the principles of positional play well. Simply attacking it won't work.

We now have two training pages that are devoted just to positional play that you should study well if you wish to increase your chess skills significantly.

Who plays positional chess the best?
Ask most chess players who are the hardest to beat, the combinational players or the positional players?
With few exceptions they will tell you that although combinational players give them a hard time by far the toughest players to beat are the ones who have studied the theory and practice of positional playing.

Why? Because positional playing is complex. There is a lot to know and study and the average chess player just does not want to take the time to know all that is required to know about positional playing. Most just want to have fun playing chess. Reading about how to play positional chess is not much fun for them and most don't think the time spent will be worth it. In fact few really know just what playing positional chess entails and really don't care to know either.

This is where you can have the edge against the average player. You can take advantage of their lazy ways and become a Positional Playing Chess specialist Playing Positional Chess.

Learn how from the Games
Next we are going to see some very fine games of players who knew a lot about positional chess playing. From their examples they will show you step by step on how you too can become a proficient positional player.

a) Outposts

1. Alekhine - Feldt

2. Neumann - Bradbrooke

3. Schaaf - Steinweg

b) Controling the Center
1. Nimzowitsch - Romi

2. Kalisvaart - Bakels

3. Fernandez - Munoz

c) Pawn Structure
1. Alekhine - Stephan

2. Freed - Bayne

3. Del Pozo Sanchez - Suarez Calvo

d) Space Advantage
1. Ferre - Broca

2. Huerta - Ortiz

3. Tan Chun - Fernandez Aguado