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Bobby Fischer
“Positional” play is not the opposite of “tactics”. The opposite of a “tactician” is a “defender”. “Positional” play is a mix of both styles. It is a way of “positioning” your pawns and pieces for eventual:
* “Tactics” or attack...ing (à la Kas...parov, Alekhine, Tal)
* “Defense” (à la Karpov, Petrosian)

Being a positional player is more difficult than being a “tactician” or a “defender”.
* A “tactician” will position his pawns & pieces almost exclusively for attacking, but he will usually leave some aspects of his own board (like his own king) in danger, if his tactics fail.
* A “defender” will position his pawns and pieces almost exclusively for defense, while usually waiting for the opponent to make a mistake, to lose patient or over extend. “Defenders” always count with the draw.
* A “positionist” will position his pawns and pieces as an in-between choice.


I was and will always be a “positional-attacker”.
A good “positionist” will be very ready for all out “tactics” or very ready for solid “defense”, but he must be extremely precise. A poor “positionist” will never have neither good tactical nor good defensive positions, while the best “positionists” will always have the right pieces and pawns on exactly the right squares. If you want to be a “positionist”, then you better be a good one. A master “positionist” must think double… both as a tactician and as a defensive player. For instance, he will usually move his queen, not Qf3 (tactics), nor Qd2 (defense), but Qd3, exactly in-between tactical and defensive choices. If he has to opt for more defensive action, he will defend only 70% while continue positioning for tactics 30% of the time. He will never defend 100% (à la Karpov, Petrosian), but he certainly can go tactical 100% (à la Kasparov, Alekhine, Tal) if necessary.

When you play against a master “positionist” you’ll notice that when you yourself go tactical against him, after 4 or 5 moves you’ll suddenly discover that somehow, mysteriously, your opponent happens to have a piece placed right there, on the right square and at the wrong moment for you, where it will neutralize your tactical plan… and worst, now he’s poised to exploit all of your newly created weaknesses and expositions. Don Miguel Najdorf described it best when after a frustrating game against me, he told the press wittingly: “Bobby just drops the pieces and they always seem to fall on the right squares”. That’s what a master “positionist” is.

“Tacticians” like Kasparov, Alekhine and Tal among others, are attackers, sharp, aggressive, speculative, double-edged, combinative, risk takers. They'll strike you, bite you and they’ll shatter open your position. They’re not suffocating constrictor snakes… they’re striking venomous, poisonous fast Cobras that will bite you and will poison your position. They don’t care if their own position is in danger. They are gamblers.

“Defenders” like Karpov and Petrosian among others, are constrictors, suffocating snakes. They don’t have the poison of the tactician Cobras, but they have the suffocating power of the Boas and Pythons. They'll constrict & strangle you slowly & without any mercy. No risk takers, they'll patiently take their time, they’ll wait, will only play the "correct" moves and will make sure that they don't lose.

“Positionists” are like me… We're a “hybrid” mix of Cobras and Boas/Pythons. We're the constrictor Boa/Python snakes but with the quickness and the poison of the tactical Cobra. I'll position myself to stalk you around the board in a deceiving “simple and transparent” way. I’ll exert pressure on you and you’ll run away. I’ll get the initiative, and in a “sharp and aggressive” game, I’ll trap, strike, bite and poison you (like a Cobra) and then, I’ll constrict, suffocate and strangle you (like a Boa/Python), and you can't do anything about it. Once I get the "initiative", it’s over.

Thanks folks

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