‘Positional chess’ or ‘positonal play’ is one of the most mysterious things about chess. Often, if someone plays a series of good moves but you don’t know why, you can just say “One side outplayed the other,” and leave it at that. Learning about the rules of positional play has been one of my greatest pleasures in my chess development, so much so that I now primarily consider myself a positional player.
But what is positional play? In short, it’s improving your position. It’s about putting your pieces on the best squares. It’s about making your pieces do more than your opponent’s. If you have two Bishops and your opponent has two Knights, for example, then you want to exchange central pawns, not blockade them, that sort of thing.
If you do this well enough, you might reach a strategically won position, where your position has improved so much that your opponent cannot resist your advances. You are a python, squeezing your opponent to death. There is nothing more frustrating than being on the receiving end of one of these, but doing the squeezing is sublime! Continue reading →
I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit of a Smirnov fanboy, a disciple if you will. If he makes something, I buy it. I have good reason: before his courses, I had been stuck at 1800 rating for years and years. I studied Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding, his flagship course, in 2015, and in March 2016 my rating currently sits at 2088. I’ve improved nearly 300 points, and I might not be done yet. That’s awesome.
I’ll be honest, I’m amazed at my progress.
I own all of Smirnov’s courses, and as I’ve begun watching and rewatching all the lessons, I’ve begun to see the overall pattern or structure of his teaching. I now understand why his courses are the way they are, and I want to share that with you here. Continue reading →
Alternate title: the difference between high-rated players and lower rated players.
I’m involved in a tournament on chess.com, and I got randomly paired against a 1400 and a 1500-rated player. I won all four games, one with each colour, and I noticed similarities in all the games. I won rather easily in all four, as I should, being nearly 500 rating points higher, but how did I do it?
The lazy answer is I outplayed them positionally, but that’s a vague assessment. What does it mean to be positionally outplayed? In a nutshell, I did two things better than my opponents: I made a plan, whereas they did not, and I consistently improved my pieces, whereas they made many more backwards moves.