â€œPositionalâ€ play is not the opposite of â€œtacticsâ€. The opposite of a â€œtacticianâ€ is a â€œdefenderâ€. â€œPositionalâ€ play is a mix of both styles. It is a way of â€œpositioningâ€ your pawns and pieces for eventual:
* â€œTacticsâ€ or attack...ing (Ã la Kas...parov, Alekhine, Tal)
* â€œDefenseâ€ (Ã la Karpov, Petrosian)
Being a positional player is more difficult than being a â€œtacticianâ€ or a â€œdefenderâ€.
* A â€œtacticianâ€ 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 â€œdefenderâ€ 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. â€œDefendersâ€ always count with the draw.
* A â€œpositionistâ€ will position his pawns and pieces as an in-between choice.
I was and will always be a â€œpositional-attackerâ€.
A good â€œpositionistâ€ will be very ready for all out â€œtacticsâ€ or very ready for solid â€œdefenseâ€, but he must be extremely precise. A poor â€œpositionistâ€ will never have neither good tactical nor good defensive positions, while the best â€œpositionistsâ€ will always have the right pieces and pawns on exactly the right squares. If you want to be a â€œpositionistâ€, then you better be a good one. A master â€œpositionistâ€ must think doubleâ€¦ 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% (Ã la Karpov, Petrosian), but he certainly can go tactical 100% (Ã la Kasparov, Alekhine, Tal) if necessary.
When you play against a master â€œpositionistâ€ youâ€™ll notice that when you yourself go tactical against him, after 4 or 5 moves youâ€™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 planâ€¦ and worst, now heâ€™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: â€œBobby just drops the pieces and they always seem to fall on the right squaresâ€. Thatâ€™s what a master â€œpositionistâ€ is.
â€œTacticiansâ€ like Kasparov, Alekhine and Tal among others, are attackers, sharp, aggressive, speculative, double-edged, combinative, risk takers. They'll strike you, bite you and theyâ€™ll shatter open your position. Theyâ€™re not suffocating constrictor snakesâ€¦ theyâ€™re striking venomous, poisonous fast Cobras that will bite you and will poison your position. They donâ€™t care if their own position is in danger. They are gamblers.
â€œDefendersâ€ like Karpov and Petrosian among others, are constrictors, suffocating snakes. They donâ€™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, theyâ€™ll wait, will only play the "correct" moves and will make sure that they don't lose.
â€œPositionistsâ€ are like meâ€¦ We're a â€œhybridâ€ 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 â€œsimple and transparentâ€ way. Iâ€™ll exert pressure on you and youâ€™ll run away. Iâ€™ll get the initiative, and in a â€œsharp and aggressiveâ€ game, Iâ€™ll trap, strike, bite and poison you (like a Cobra) and then, Iâ€™ll constrict, suffocate and strangle you (like a Boa/Python), and you can't do anything about it. Once I get the "initiative", itâ€™s over.