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“The Style is the Man Himself”.- G-L Buffon

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When one begins to play Chess, the first classification of chessplayers one hears is that of  “attacking players” or “positional players” as if they were mutually exclusive terms. At the same time, one begins to read about Chess styles more or less so: “there are three Chess styles: combinative, positional and universal”, and each one showed  several names attached. Of course, this is too rigid a definition. It is clear that every GM has a particular style, but in fact they can play any sort of game. Karpov is, primarily, a positional player. But he has played sacrificial games too. The same can be said of Petrosian, for instance. Tal was a combinative, attacking genius, but he was able to produce positional gems too. You all understand what I mean.

In general, the new gurus in the field of Chess training – Dvorestky, Zlotnik,etc- have widened this narrow landscape with their ideas. Well, I would like to mention two valuable contributions to this matter. Krogius ,quoting Torre, wrote that the latter had mentioned four periods in the evolution of the players’ style: 1) The form ; 2) The expression of the play; 3) The style  and 4) The grand style.

Y. Averbach in an interview to a Chess magazine several years ago, stated that he had divided the chessplayers into six groups:  1) The Killer ; 2) The Fighter ; 3) The Sportman ; 4) The Gambler ; 5) The Artist  and 6) The Analitic (sic) – He meant the “analyst”. He offers examples of players in each group: 1 : Fischer, Korchnoi,Botvinnik. 2) :Lasker, Kasparov. 3) : Capablanca . 4) Janovsky and Karpov. 5) Tal and Anderssen. 6): Rubinstein.

In the same way that too narrow classifications are imprecise, too wide ones may be misleading. Because there is always something indefinable in Chess. The more you want to classify things, the more overlappings or  holes you produce. In the matter of chessplayers, they are so  complicated that a “universal style” had to be invented to include the likes of Spassky, Smyslov and Keres.

I feel great respect for Averbach and understand this is his way of seeing things. As any other topic in Chess, you can understand this is debatable… Averbach has problems with the adscription of  Tal and Karpov, for instance and he even admits that some players may share characteristics in two of the groups.

Some people associate “positional”  to ” defensive”, “attacking” to  “combinative” -in the same wrong way that some people associate 1.d4/1.c4 with  “positional players” and 1. e4 with “attacking players” and there is much more than this. Perhaps all this comes from the influence of 19th century Chess. We associate 1. e4 to attack because this was the favourite opening of  romantic players like Andersson, Morphy, etc. And most of the onsidered “positional players” preferred 1. d4.  But this is not dogma (remember Kasparov smashing everybody with 1.d4 and Karpov playing positional masterpieces with 1. e4) .The evolution of Chess and the present state of Chess theory have changed all these assessments.

And this is why most -perhaps all of them- top GM/Champions of the World refuse to speak about their respective styles and some even have stated they have no style at all (implying that Chess is so complicated that you have to master all forms of playing.)

I think Capablanca,Karpov,Fischer or Botvinnik never cared about  “stylistical considerations” -they simply played Chess- while Nimzowitsch,for example,  took great pride in considering himself a great defensive player criticizing the lack of defensive technique in some of his predecessors and contemporaries.

In the past, as a boy, with my fellow-companions, we used  to have long “discussions” about “our” styles. Some wanted to play like Fischer and said they were “attacking” players. The followers of Karpov or Capablanca were proud of their “positional” styles… Perhaps that was sheer mimicry of war, like baby cats/dogs who “fight” against others like them simply to learn how to defend themselves once they grow up…

Now, I hardly ever think about style classifications : life has taught me that I can lose against attacking or defensive opponents. (But always  in style!)

And you??

To continue unearthing maybe forgotten Chess games, here today’s ones:

W.:  L.Karlsson  (1)

B.: M. Suba  (0)

Hastings 1984

1. c4  g6  2. Nc3  Bg7  3. g3  e5  4. Bg2  Ne7  5. e3  0-0  6. h4!!?   c6  7. Qb3 Na6  8. N1e2  Nc5  9. Qc2  Ne6  10. Qb3  b6  11. h5  d5  12. hg6  Nc5  13. gh7  Kh8  14.Qd1  Nd3  15. Kf1  dc4  16. b3 f5  17. f4  e4  18. Ba3  cb3  19. ab3  c5  20.Kg1  Rf6  21. g4  Rg6  22. g5!  Rd6  23.Ra2  Be6  24. Bf1  Nc6  25. Rh2  Na5  26. Qb1  Bb3:  27. Ng3  Ba2:  28. Qa2:  Ne1  29. Nce4:  Nf3  30. Kh1  fe4  31. Bb2!  Nh2:  32. Bg7:  Kg7:  33. Nf5  Kh8  34. Qb2  Rd4  35. ed4  Kh7:  36. Kh2: Qd5? (Better seemed … Qf8)  37. g6!  Kg6:  38. Ne7  Kf7  39. Nd5:  Rh8  40. Kg1  Rg8  41. Kf2 and Black resigned 


W.: V. Korchnoi (0)

B.: U. Andersson (1)

Brussels 1988

1. c4 e6  2. Nc3  d5  3. d4  Nf6  4. Nf3  Nbd7  5. Bg5  h6  6. Bh4  Be7  7. e3  Ne4  8. Be7:  Qe7:   9. Ne4:  de4  10. Nd2  f5  11. Qh5  Qf7  12. Qf7:  Kf7:  13. c5!?  e5!  14. Bc4  Ke7  15. 0-0-0  ed4  16. ed4  Nf6  17. Rhe1  Rd8  18. d5  b5  19. Bb3  a5  20. a3  Nd7  21. c6  Nc5  22. f3  Nd3  23. Kc2  a4   24. Ba2  b4  25. Bc4  Ne1:  26. Re1:   ba3  27. ba3  Kd6  28. fe4  Re8  29. Kc3  Kc5  30. e5  Ba6  31. Ba2  Rad8  32. Nf3  Rd5:!  33. Bd5:  Kd5:  34 . h4  g6  35. Kb4  Rb8  36. Ka5  Bc4!  37. e6  Kc5  38.Re5  Bd5  39. Ka6  Kc6:  40. Ka7  Re8 / White resigned. A wonderful struggle.


Written by QChess

August 2, 2012 at 6:54 am

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