A player’s chess style is a combination of many things. A lot of psychology and perception are involved in the way we approach the game. Some people are natural defenders while others are good at simplifying things much quicker. A combination of both is usually what makes a chess player great.

But being defensive or attacking, complexity creator or simplifier has nothing to do with chess playing styles!

Basically, there are two chess playing styles, tactical and positional. A tactical player is one who relies on tactics and tries to gain an advantage through tactical combinations, while a positional player is the one who is always looking to occupy important squares and gain a positional and space advantage.

Modern Grand Masters and strong International Masters are good at both tactical and positional chess styles. They study their games using chess engines and those engines run on a computer.

A computer as we all know is an emotionless machine that gives results based on thousands of calculations in a particular position.

It works purely on logic and after each move, all a machine cares about is how to come up with a combination that can keep them at least 1 move ahead of its opponent. And it repeats all those thousands of calculations after every move.

A human mind can never compete with such deep calculations and as the saying goes:

if you can’t beat them, join them“.

This is what every top player in the world is trying to do in chess… trying to memorize the computer moves as much as they can!

They have molded their game into a style of play that is neither positional nor tactical, but rather an engine move that the computer thinks is the best.

If you want to be a better chess player, no matter what your rating is, start analyzing your games with chess engines, at least the lost ones to build a chess-playing style that is more dynamic, logical, and likely winning.

That’s the only right approach to developing your game and style of play. Even if you are fixing 1 problem per analysis and taking that knowledge to the next game and not repeating a similar kind of blunder in the new game, your analysis was a success.

This development will make you a difficult opponent with each passing game.

Of course, there will be fluctuations in rating due to many things going on in life and a human mind can never give a similar amount of focus every day but at least your approach to improve will be the right one.

How to know your Chess Personality?

A player’s chess personality is a combination of many things but often positions that you are comfortable playing is the biggest guess of what your chess personality is.

Chess is more like an algorithm and there are more than 1 ways to find success.

If your endgames are strong, try to take the game to an endgame with at least an equal position, if your middle game is strong, get there with at least an equal position, and if your opening prep is good, try to get an advantage in the opening and improve the middle and end game with engine analysis.

These are all the variables of the game you have to build and become a stronger chess personality.

Knowing the problem is half the solution. If you know your strengths and weaknesses in chess, you are already halfway there in developing a chess personality that suits your gameplay.

If you are a player already out of the know-how phase of chess, check out these chess tips for intermediate players. They will surely be an addition to developing your chess personality, and style of play.

The Difference in Positional vs Tactical Chess:

As we already defined above the difference between the tactical and positional styles of chess. In this section, you will learn about them in detail.

Positional Chess

It’s a style of playing chess in which the player is mostly focused on controlling the important squares. Basically, the goal is to control the key squares and take up the positional advantage.

This style of play can really get boring in classical chess if both the players are looking for positional advantage and there is no real movement, attacking threats, or advances from both camps. And usually, viewers don’t like this sort of chess.

Contrary to that, in a blitz or bullets game, the positional style of play is very entertaining to watch.

Because in those games, you have to think quickly and play a move. Leading to a dynamic game where both the players are struggling to gain a positional advantage.

If you think your mind is more peaceful to play chess in a way that you have to decide which squares are important to occupy or control, then be a positional player.

Build a repertoire of solid chess openings, stay away from Gambits and become a solid chess player.

Tactical Chess

A tactical player is one who is always good at counter-play. This player believes in combinations, tactics, imbalances, and sacrifices to hunt for a bigger advantage.

Mikhail Tal comes into mind when such a style of play is mentioned. But very few people know that Tal was also very good in solid play, I mean you can’t be a World Champion if you are not good at everything in Chess.

Another thing is that he was a player of a different generation. Nowadays, in top-level chess, you can’t even sac a pawn in hope of getting a bigger advantage.

The level of competition in chess is very high. And players have to somehow emulate and copy computers if the goal is to survive at the very top level.

Creativity is still there, but as Vishy Anand says, he does come up with creative ideas to prepare for the games, but when he runs those ideas through a computer, he finds a lot of problems in them.

This is not good for the general creativity in the game but in terms of standards, it raises the bar very high, meaning no chance for wishful creativity and only solid moves.

The pure tactical style of chess at the top level is a thing of the past.

Check out this nerve-wracking game of Tal against Botvinnik in a solid known English Opening. There is one particular move that will do the justice of calling it one of the best tactical moves ever played:

Combination of Tactical and Positional Styled Chess

A thing about succeeding is that there are usually more than one ways to be successful in most fields of life. Chess is no different. It can be mastered in different styles.

But more recently we have seen that to really succeed at the top level, chess is becoming more and more tilted towards solid play and memorization. At least in the classical events.

But modern Chess players like Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniatchi are known to be OK with all styles of play. They are a combination of both. And they know exactly when to unleash which style of play.

How to Find your Chess Style

You can easily find your chess style of play by going through the data. Pick your last 10 or 20 games and see the results. The games you have won will greatly help in deciding your chess style of play.

You can either continue with that style or if you don’t like it. You can analyze the lost games, learn from your mistakes by doing a quick engine analysis and make small tweaks for improvement.

Don’t try to memorize the right moves because if you are not a titled player, most probably you will forget those moves in the next 24 hours.

Move 3 to 4 rocks a day, meaning in a certain line that is occurring again and again in your games, fix 3 to 4 moves through engine analysis and build your game from there.

If you are playing 10 blitz games a day, cut it short to 5 and give the rest of the time to analysis and problem-solving.

But if you are totally a beginner. You probably should only concentrate on playing chess and solving tactics. Knowing your style of play this early is not for you.


In this blog, we have discussed chess playing styles and different personalities of chess.

A good thing about chess is that anyone can enjoy it, be it an under 800 rated online player or a super Grand Master, there is happiness in chess for everyone.

Like any other walk of life, if you want to get better at chess, you have to work on your skill.

In this blog, we have discussed different ways you can become a better chess player, by adopting a style of play that suits you the best.

Connect with me and let’s play an online game sometime… 😀

Categories: Chess

Bilal Ahmed

A random guy on the Internet enthusiastic about Blogging Chess and Football Life motto "make people's lives easier"