5 Tips to Improve Your Positional Play

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If you would like to improve your chess and have better results, then you need to master the positional play. It’s important to know how to handle different types of positions and, indeed, in a chess game you can see a lot of them.

In order to find the best moves, you should have a plan; however, how can you start planning if you don’t know the best positions for your pieces?

1. Study Quality Games

Strong Grandmasters already know how to handle their pieces, how to put them in the best position in the chess boards and how to give them more life. By studying their games, you can recognize the motives, and then, you can incorporate their successful strategy in your own games.

I recommend you not to see the very tactical battles, but more quiet games. Here I’d like to recommend you some players like Karpov and Anand.
positional chess

Black to play

In the above position, it’s Black’s turn. What will you do here as Black?

As you can see the center is blocked and the other pieces are not conflicting each other, so there is no possibility to make a tactical trick. In such cases, you need to think in a positional way and put your pieces in the best positions.

The best place for the rooks is the open files. You can see how Karpov manages to control that open d-file with his heavy pieces.

2. Typical Pawn Structures

When you understand the basic tactics, then you should move forward to more advanced themes. One of them is the typical pawn structures. Yes, there are plenty of typical pawn structures in which you should have the same plans.

One of the most typical plans is the pawn majority. By this term, I mean to have more pawns than your opponent on one side of the board.
positional chess
As you can see in the above position, White has a pawn majority on the kingside because he has four pawns there against the three of Black’s. When you have a pawn majority, you need to exchange some pieces over that side of the board, and then, try to push them forward.

3. Switch Off the Engine

Everyone has a computer these days. I guess that you have a desktop or probably a mobile or a tablet. I’m not sure if you have one of them or all of them, but I’m sure that most of you are using computers/engines in order to analyze your games.

This is okay; however, before feeding the game onto your computer, you should think by yourself. Computers cannot help you find positional moves because they are mostly playing tactically.

4. Analyze With Your Opponent

I suggest that you play long games in chess tournaments. These will help you think deeply in the positions and understand better your opening systems.

After the game, analyzing it with your opponent sure helps a lot. You can ask politely to see the game. It doesn’t matter if you lose or win. He/she can tell you briefly about their thoughts. During the game, both players, you and your opponent, have more positional ideas and you may discuss them. It would be great if your opponent is much higher rated than you.

Get the FREE course “How to Analyze Your Chess Games

5. Find the Critical Moments

Every game has some critical moments. By this term, I mean the positions in which you have a lot of good options. For example, it doesn’t matter if you start the game with 1.e4 or 1.d4. Every chess player in the world can start with one of these two.
positional chess

White to play

In the above position, it’s White’s turn, and you can see a critical moment. White has a lot of moves available here; for example, he can move the bishop or the knight. Similarly, he may not move the bishop because the f4-pawn is pinned and the f5-rook is unprotected.

In the game, I managed to find the best move in the position, Kh1, which solved the tactical problem with Rg5+. Similarly, my last move, Kh1, has the plan of playing Rg1 and attack the unprotected g6-knight.

You can find the PGNs of these games below. I hope these tips will help you improve your game and your analytical skills. Good luck!

Recommended courses:

7 Best Chess Opening Traps

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