Play Chess Middlegames that Get the Edge
It's time to consider chess middlegames if you want to create the conditions for basic checkmates
. We know what advantages we need for a winning position. We now need to develop the strategy and technique to bring a winning position about.
There are different ways of approaching chess. You may prefer to play three to four move tactical combinations that attempt to gain an advantage of some sort over your opponent.
Or you may prefer a more long term strategy based on gradually assuming positional dominance. The third way is probably the best. Blend the two together. The two armies fight for supremacy in this phase.
Chess Middlegames: You have to form a plan to succeed in chess
You must devise a feasible plan of action in order to win. This must be a plan that when executed is superior to that of your opponent. An experienced player will be quite familiar with the middlegame plans that come with the various openings.
So he or she will be able to calculate and select fairly accurately the best course of action. It is good idea to formulate an plan
and stick with it. Even if it is not the best plan, a poor plan is better than no plan at all.
The worst idea is to drift aimlessly through a game. Never having any goal to achieve from one move to the next is the best way to ensure that nothing is achieved. Defeat is then almost inevitable. There are a couple of things we must consider for the chess middlegame.
Chess Middlegames: Anderssen - Kieseritzky (London, 1851); Black is up a Queen, 2 Rooks and a Bishop for a pawn, but White to move will win the game with 23.Be7#. Position outweighs material every time.
The chief considerations when playing chess middlegames should be to play for a strong and if possible winning position in the endgame. The pawn structure is formed and the minor pieces, Knights and Bishops, are developed.
These do battle for control of the center while the major pieces, Rooks and Queen, wait on the edge of the action. They will join the battle during the middlegame when the position calls for their power and influence.
There are several forms of advantage that chess players struggle for. Let's consider the relationship between material and position
. A material advantage, all other things being equal, should mean a favorable position. But remember, never put material gain ahead of positional concerns.
Chess Middlegames: Kotov - Unzicker (Saltsjobaden, 1952); White plays 17.e4 in order to win space. He will finish up with two uncontested central pawns on d4 and e5 that will enable him to launch a successful Kingside attack. Your pawn structure will determine your gameplan.
You should also remember to scrutinize your pawn structure. Your pawns provide a good defensive shell for your pieces, especially your King. You will also attack in the direction your pawn chain is pointing.
As you will later see it is advisable not to advance your outer pawns (files a,b,c,d,e,f) without good reason. If they are advanced before the endgame it is preferable that they form a pawn chain so as to receive support from adjacent pawns.
Isolated pawns is the last thing you want. A good pawn structure
makes it more difficult for your opponent to break through your defensive shell.
It is especially critical not to move the pawns in front of your castled King if at all possible. This without exception compromises his security.
Chess Middlegames: Rubinstein - Colle (Liege, 1930); White and Black engage in a thematic struggle for c4 in the Nimzo-Indian Defense
One school of thought when deciding on a playing style is the slow burning positional strategy. This is when a player, after the opening, assesses the situation, ponders all of his options or possible plans. He then selects the best one and sticks to it rigidly. This kind of player can be regarded as a strategist.
There is no worth placed on several individual attacks by individual pieces. Solo forays always fail. The strategist will mould his pieces into a single attacking force. Working together and supporting each other, their power increases exponentially.
The strategist seeks out the weakest point in his opponents position and concentrates his force there. Later he will try to create a second weakness to overstretch his opponent's defenses. Everything he does from this point onwards is based on slowly strengthening his own position
while gradually weakening that of his opponent.
Chess Middlegames: Fishbein - Shulman (San Diego, 2006); 41.Nh6+! opens the road for the White Queen to reach d7. White begins a series of forcing moves, taking advantage of the poor positioning of the Black pieces to first win back the Knight on e7 and then end the contest by picking up the loose Rook on b6 via the fork.
Alternatively, instead of having an all encompassing master plan, a player can play a series of three to four move combinations
or tactical maneuvers in the chess middlegame. This can gain a material advantage or a positional advantage of some sort. A player who engages in this type of play can be thought of as a tactician.
The tactician can use a fork to attack two pieces at once. He can pin his opponents pieces. He can also capture enemy pieces by means of a skewer. Discovered attacks are another useful way of whittling down your opponents forces.
It is also possible to gain positional advantages by sacrificing pieces. Remember material is important but position is infinitely more so. The truth is playing sound, positional chess is the best way to yield tactical opportunities. You should find a way of incorporating both approaches into your playing style.
Chess Middlegames: White has a good Bishop on the same color squares as the Black pawns and not his own, Black has a poor Bishop extremely limited by his own pawns. Therefore Black ought to play 1...Ba6, forcing the exchange of White's good Bishop for his poor one.
There are a number of circumstances when it's good to exchange pieces and some when it's not a good idea. A big part of mastering chess middlegames is learning how to profit from the exchanges.
You should exchange pieces of equal value when you've managed to gain a lead in material. This is done to hasten the endgame. In the case of Queens you should maybe exchange if it can force the King to move, robbing your opponent of the ability to castle.
Or you should exchange Queens if you have good possibilities of promoting a pawn. Other reasons to exchange
could be to pull your opponent's pawn structure out of shape.
The middlegame is where the main struggle for dominance takes place. Above are just some of the strategies used to gain the upper hand. Your tactical combinations will hopefully be a natural result of winning the positional battle.
Mastering the art of the exchange is something you will be working on throughout your journey as a chess player. Recognizing when your opponent has a better minor piece than you will one day be instinctive. You'll force the swap without even thinking about it.
There is a long road ahead on your way to mastering the middlegame. It will come with experience in the field, putting the things you have learned into practice. With such practice you can hone the craft of positional chess