I have posted in the past about how some of the difficulties of positional play. It’s sometimes difficult to give hard and fast rules on positional play because unlike tactics, where there is often only a single correct line of play, it may be a matter of taste what positional plan you adapt. Then too, many times positional play is a matter of instinct or feel that comes from experience. We have also seen that the first World Correspondence Champion, CJS Purdy of Australia, stated, “positional play…does not necessarily involve a plan…but primarily a much simpler thing, and that is the idea of strengthening one’s own position or weakening the opponent’s”
As GM Danny King described it, playing positionally is what you do when you are not calculating and it involves evaluating various factors on the board, resulting in the formulation of a plan. In this “lesson” we will take a look at a game that illustrates the point Purdy was making. The position is taken from the game Palkovi-King, Bundesliga, 1996.
In the position below Black played 16…g6. Many of us would, at first glance, think this was a move that weakens the position of the Black King, but in reality, it is a waiting move. King played it because, before committing his pieces, he wanted to see where White was going to place his. At the same time, rather than a move that weakens his K’s position, it is also a very useful move.
At some point Black will likely need a flight square for his K and this move prepares one. At the same time it also takes away the f5 square from the White N and therefore somewhat restricts White’s play. Let’s follow the game and see what Purdy was describing.