Play the Chess Middlegame Like a Magician
Get in tune with many of the common motifs of the chess middlegame
Time to start thinking as you move into the chess middlegame. After a flawless execution of your favorite opening your army is poised and ready to strike. Your pawn structure is rock solid.
Your King is safe and your minor pieces have a vice-like grip on the center. Your Rooks have been centralized, ready to take command of key files.
Your Queen is waiting in the wings, safe from harm and well stationed. Your position is picture perfect as you transition from the well rehearsed book moves of the opening to the more intuitive maneuverings of the chess middlegame.
You don't want to blow all of your good work so far by taking the wrong road. How do you weave deadly tactical play
into your solid positional structures?
What do you need to think about as you devise a way forward? There is a huge diversity of middlegames arising from many different openings. And yet there are a number of motifs that pop up with surprising regularity.
Chess Middlegame: Polgar - Karpov, 2003; White wins with 25.Bxh7! and 25...Kxh7 is hopeless. With the Queen arriving on the h-file with tempo and Rh3 in the air, Black is lost. 26...Kh8 loses to a second Bishop sacrifice, 26.Bxg7!!.
The Bishop Sacrifice on h7 (or h2 for Black) is a thematic sac aimed at destroying the King's cover. Once you cross the Rubicon and give up the piece you must then continue the attack with all the energy and intensity you can muster.
Once the initiative you gain from the sacrifice peters out you are just down a piece and in a lost position. So you have to do whatever it takes to keep the pressure on as you hunt down the King. Don't allow him any respite or he will start to bring his pieces into the game.
As long as you can keep them sitting on their home squares, your opponent's material advantage will be of no use to him. If you have to make a second sacrifice to retain the initiative and finally checkmate the King then do so without hesitation. Indeed there are many examples of a double Bishop sacrifice.
Chess Middlegame: The Adler Variation of the Budapest Gambit features a Rook Lift
The Rook Lift is a common maneuver in some middlegames. The opposing King can really feel the heat turning up on him when the Queen's Rook swings across from one wing to the other to say hello.
A little bit of prep work is required to create the conditions for the transfer. You have to make sure you don't close the position before the Rook gets across. The third rank must be left clear.
One of the openings associated with the Rook Lift is the Budapest Gambit. It has the Adler Variation where the a-Rook swings across to the Kingside and then the fun begins. This Rook is known as the Budapest Rook.
Chess Middlegame: Botvinnik - Petrosian, 1966; Playing 25...fxe4! Black offers the exchange sacrifice trusting in the power of his Bishop pair to drive home the advantage of his newly passed pawn
Rooks are worth 5 points, minor pieces are worth 3. That is what we are told early on. The point is well made. The Rook is a stronger piece than a Bishop or a Knight.
However a piece's value is not set in stone. The values just mentioned are mere nominal values. In other words, all things being equal and with no special circumstances in play, the Rook is better.
But then there always little quirks and qualifications floating around in a chess position. That's what makes a piece's value fluctuate throughout a game.
A passive Rook is inferior to an active Rook and a Knight entrenched on e5 is as good as any Rook as is a Bishop on a long diagonal. Considerations such as these give rise to the Exchange Sacrifice.