ChessWorld.net's Tactics technical paper suite!

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Blow up your opponent's position tactically!

Assess the positional (static) elements of the situation

Outside of the scope of this tactics focused paper, but this should precede assessing the dynamic tactical aspects of the position. The BCC positional paper yet to come will focus on the fundamentals of thinking positionally! Two factors to consider in the priority given to the positional assessment and tactical assessment of positions:-

A players style

Positional play and planning should be given equal if not higher priority in a chess player's arsenal of weapons. If one wants to lean towards a Botvinnik/ Karpovian style of play - highly positional, then having crystal clear logical plans, and being able to manage the positional elements of the position will feature heavily in the thought processes.

If one has fallen in love with the attacking games of Tal on the other hand, and wants to be a highly combinative player, playing sharp agressive openings, then there may be less priority on positional reasoning, and more on the calculation of variations.

[Instructive note: Botvinnik was well aware of Tal's style in their world championship match, and got revenge on Tal taking Tal's crown by playing solid boring caro-kann systems which favoured Botvinnik's positional style of play, and did not favour Tal's combinative creative style as well as for example, the sicillian defence]

The type of position

There is little point thinking tactically, when it is more effective and beneficial to think positionally, in terms of manoevers for example. Positional and tactical reasoning needs to be appropriate to the position. These types of reasoning need in fact to be integrated to support each other. Even in many closed positions, there are latent dynamic tactical possibilities that need to be analysed.

As a general rule however, closed positions have less tactics, and thus provide more justification for thinking positionally such as nice squares for pieces, and less in terms of reams of computer-like variations. In the majority of situations it is re-assuring however to still look for the dynamic resources in the position.

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