You are here:

Chess/middle game/positional


QUESTION: Is there a difference between a chess book that teaches how to play the middle game and one that teaches how to play positionally?

ANSWER: Could you, perhaps, be a bit more specific ?

After all, a book that shows how to play "positionally" would thus have to include middlegames, as well as openings and endgames.

On the other hand, a book about middlegames would stress positional play, as well as tactics.

If you could phrase your inquiry more specifically, I'm sure I can help !

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I will try to rephrase. If I wanted to purchase a book on how to play positional chess, but suppose a friend told to go to the local library and check out a book on the middle game because it would discuss the same thing. Is this true?

Thanks !  The clarification definitely helps.

At any rate, the answer to your question, in my view, is no.  Books on the middlegame discuss not just positional play, but also tactics.  Offhand, I don't know which of these two is more
important when it comes to playing middlegames, but I suspect it's tactics---which, thus, is all the more reason for why positional play and middlegame play are not the "same thing".

If you want books on positional play, incidentally, try looking at Gelfand's recent Decision Making in Chess.  It'll get you off to a good start---guaranteed !

Another good one, though rather old by now, is Chernev's Logical Chess Move By Move.  In fact, I recall in a 1979 interview in Chess Life, Chernev stated the games in that book were "positional in nature" (as he put it).  He wanted to stress that if one is a good positional player, then "the combinations will come of themselves."  

Another good book by Chernev in the positional play area is The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played.  A good indication of such is that if you look in the index of that book, you'll see that out of the 62 games, only ONE is by Alekhine.  Tal has only one, as well.  Were those two players positional people--not by a long shot!

But, then, you'll notice in the index that Steinitz, Smyslov, Botvinnik, Tarrasch, and
Capablanca are well-represented.  Needless to say, they were all positional players.


Hope this helps !


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Howard S Sample


First, I can't answer analytical questions on chess because my United States Chess Federation (USCF) rating is definitely below average. However, I am very knowledgeable about chess history and general chess trivia. I've been a chess trivia buff for 35 years! Furthermore, my research and writing skills are far above average! I've been researching chess questions on the Internet for over 10 years and pretty much know where to look for answers to them. My strong devotion to chess will show in many of the questions I can answer for your website. In other words, I can give specific, detailed answers if the need may be.


I have been a USCF member for 35 years (as of next month) and also have a very substantial collection of back issues of chess magazines, not to mention a lot of chess books. I am also familiar with many chess websites, such as ChessCafe and Chessbase. To be quite frank, chess (playing, studying, researching, and so on) has been somewhat of an obsession to me ever since I was about 12. I just can't seem to get enough of it.

United States Chess Federation (since 1975)

Interesting question! If you Google my full name (Howard S Sample) you will see that I have made many contributions to chess websites. I send in questions and comments very regularly although they don't always get printed. Admittedly, I can be a bit picky when writing to correct errors but I've submitted corrections many times (and not just to chess websites). Incidentally, I am also entering the field of freelance writing though, admittedly, I plan to write mainly about issues such as investments, federal taxation, and accounting/finance topics. But freelance writing on chess topics is also a field I'm exploring.

I have two degrees in business, of which one is an MBA (from the University of Toledo).

Awards and Honors

©2016 All rights reserved.