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louis_mallow 84 ( +1 | -1 )
Finding plans in the middlegame Even a cursory glance at my ongoing games will demonstrate that I start well (I've got a narrow but sound and fairly aggressive opening repertoire) then... sort of... tail... off to nothi--.

What I need to know is: where can I find a middlegame plan?

If the opening goes well but then loses momentum, and black and white have gained a kind of near-equality in time, force and position, where do I find my plan then?

I've heard one good piece of advice, which was to decide on good squares for pieces (like holes in the pawn structure making good knight outposts) and then start working out how to get the pieces there. When I try this I just end up changing plans every move.

Can anyone help with general advice or with pointers to books?
philaretus 18 ( +1 | -1 )
In contemporary practice (see my 'Chicken Factor' thread), as soon as Black obtains equality he proposes a draw. That takes care of half your games, anyway. ;)
peppe_l 52 ( +1 | -1 )
I suppose There are lots of good game collections. What you need is one with lots of verbal comments regarding plans and basic positional factors. Or a good "chess strategy" book. I am sure folks here can give you few good options to choose from (although I have found out people often propose books like "how to crush your opponent with X variation of X opening" regardless of what you ask :-)))

Another way is to post one of your LOST games here for others to analyze.
futile 24 ( +1 | -1 )
Try... "The Amateur's Mind" by IM Jeremy Silman. He has a wonderful way of explaining what you should be looking for (and doing). Also try getting a copy of Irving Chernev's "Logical Chess: Move by Move". He explaines in great detail every move.
honololou 41 ( +1 | -1 )
louis… I know exactly how you feel. My biggest problem is figuring out what to do when there are no
clear tactical moves—I lack a positional sense. I have "The Amateur's Mind" and I understand the
basic advice but have trouble applying it in my games. Sometimes I think that if I could only get
to that stage where I think and see positionally as well as tactically, I might just become
dangerous.
jstack 85 ( +1 | -1 )
middlegame books. The 2 books on the middlegame which I have actually read all the way through
..
1. "the inner game of chess: how to calculate and win"-Andrew Soltis
-----this book shows how spot tactics in a position and develope a plan to exploit the tactical features of the position.
.
2. "Understanding pawn play in chess"-Marovic
- this is an excellent book. It shows how to develop a plan based on different pawn set ups. It examines both positional and tactical features.
-
excellent books I have read part of
-"judgement and planning in chess"-Max Euwe
-"the Middle Game parts 1 and 2"(2 book series) M. Euwe and H Kramer
-"the art of attack in chess" V. Vukovic
-"my System" -A. Nimzovich
-
If I were you, I would start with with Soltis' "inner game of chess" It is the easiest one to get through...then maybe "middlegame parts 1 and 2" that should keep you busy for a while.
mindtwist 7 ( +1 | -1 )
Also from Silman you can look at "How to reassess your chess".
soikins 65 ( +1 | -1 )
heh I like these sort of questions. With similar succes you could ask: "How should I play chess?"

BTW I have recently stumbled upon an idea that there is no such thing as a plan. It is an illusion. Though, I consider this statement to be false, the theory itself provides something to think about.

If you read in russian:
www.e3e5.com/theory/articles/
And an interview with the author of this provocative theory:
www.chesscafe.com/text/misha15.pdf
v_glorioso12 2 ( +1 | -1 )
try one of kotov's books
i_play_slowly 69 ( +1 | -1 )
silman Both of Silman's books that have been mentioned here focus exclusively on the topic of how to create a plan. They are both very good books.
*
Chernev's book focuses on the application of principles, which I think is very different from Silman's topic. Applying principles can be a series of one-move plans without necessarilly having a big picture in mind at all.
*
Nizowitsch's "My System" is a fascinating grab bag of ideas, but it is not a system, and it is not devoted exclusively to how to create plans.
*
I would beware of recommendations that do not explain why the book is being recommended. Yes, the book may be a chess classic, but that does not mean it is devoted to answering your specific need.
wibrwibr 26 ( +1 | -1 )
Silman again Like many others here, I agree on Silman. His books teach you to look at the board positionally on every move (but not forgetting tactics!) and to focus on "imbalances" on the board. He then explains and gives plans for making the best use of those imbalances.

qistnix 20 ( +1 | -1 )
try the tutorials in the latest version of Chessmaster. Even interesting stuff for novice players. Just watch your screen and listen to the comments. You won't find anything easier than that...
baseline 41 ( +1 | -1 )
Neil McDonald new book "Chess: the art of logical thinking" annotates every move of 30 games grouped into themes looks very good. in "Unbeatable Chess Lessons for Juniors" Robert M Snyder does the same thing in 24 games. both of these books are preferable to Chernev's "Logical Chess: Move by Move. I learned a lot by playing through the games in "Dreihundert Schachpartien" by Siegbert Tarrasch.
spurtus 37 ( +1 | -1 )
Something I was thinking about doing to improve middle game is to 'fast track' your middle game experience by picking up some GM games and play your mates where the middle game starts in these games... then when youve played your game, go over the GM game and see where the GMs played it differently.

Spurtus.
groove 87 ( +1 | -1 )
If you are lazy... Buy a couple of good tactical books. Honestly, if you understand your openings fairly well, and spend the rest of your time reading a tactics book (easy to read when compared to positional books) you will see a dramatic improvement in your chess. I simply don't find as much time to play through positional chess books, and saw a monumental leap in my chess vision after reading some tactics. Now given, I'm not a great positional player, and have sort of hit a roadblock where I'm needing to invest some time into positional study, but if you are looking for quick improvement, this would be a good way to go. Buy you something fundamental on tactics like "Winning Chess Strategies" by Yasser Sierawan, and then buy a good combinations book like "Combination Challenge" (I think that's the name), and you're in good shape.
mogath 14 ( +1 | -1 )
If you are lazy About the only thing I would add to that would be to set the positions up on a chess board and don't move the pieces until you've found the answer.
premium_steve 219 ( +1 | -1 )
my game for analysis please?? :) Here's a game of mine where i thought i developed my pieces well, but maybe didn't find the right sort of plan.
The game gets very exciting at the end where a lot of my moves seem forced and i really felt that i could hold on, despite my opponent's strong attack. His gigantic bishop, and a knight and queen all work together against my exposed king.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Ngf3 Nf6 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Qe2+ Be7 8.dxc5
--Can white preserve this won pawn with the push b4?

8...O-O 9.Nb3 Bxc5 10.Bxd7 Nbxd7 11.Nxc5 Re8 12.Be3 Nxc5 13.Nd4 Qd7 14.h3 Re7 15.O-O Rae8 16.Qf3 Re4
--I think one of my bigger mistakes was putting this rook where a knight should be (on the e4 square).

17.Rad1 Na4
--Very ugly. But I figured that there's a threat to win a pawn, and my knight could start attacking soon from better squares. Is this the wrong idea? I think, considering what happens next, that it probably is.

18.Bg5
--My knight is stuck on f6, with no retreat squares. It will be traded off and White will take advantage of Black's weakened kingside. Maybe Black should have made a move to prevent this from happening, if possible.

18...Nxb2 19.Bxf6 Nxd1 20.Qg3 g6 21.Rxd1 Rxe8+
--Probably not best? Dangerous queen checks become available on the Black's back rank later on.

22.Rxe8 Rxe8+ 23.Kh2 h6 24.Nf5 h5 25.Qf4 Qe6
--There are huge threats on every move. I wonder if White misses something forcing... or if Black misses a good way to defend.

26.Nd4 Qd7 27.Nf5 Qe6 28.Ng7 Re4?? 29.Nxe6 Black Resigns.

I dropped my Queen on the 28th, and said "Oh God!", because at the time I still felt I was holding on and was happy to find ways out. It was fun to think maybe I could get something working for myself later on, if only these escapes would keep popping up. This is probably the wrong way to think - hoping for things to work out, instead of being more certain of your own safety.
I've been thinking about that a lot lately, and wondering if I should try playing slower chess with less fireworks. (Happy New Year!)

Please comment and criticize my ideas if they're bad ones :).
I'd like to get better and not have this happen to me very often in the future.



jstack 89 ( +1 | -1 )
premium Steve Thank you for submitting such an interesting game. I analysed the entire game and made suggestions where I thought they were needed. Also, I think I found a forced win on move 26 for white. Take a look.
.
.
.



1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Ngf3 Nf6 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Qe2+ Be7 8.dxc5

I prefer Bxp here since after 9. Nb3 Bb6 your dark square bishop is well placed exerting influence over d4.
.
8...0-0 9.Nb3
.
[ 9.b4 Re8! Now what does white d0 about the Bxp threat?
]
9...Bxc5 10.Bxd7
.
[ Maybe white can get away with taking the bishop? 10.Nxc5 Re8 11.Be3 Bxb5 12.Qxb5 d4 13.Nxd4 Qxd4 14.0-0]
.
10...Nbxd7 11.Nxc5 Re8 12.Be3 Nxc5 13.Nd4 Qd7 14.h3 Re7
.
[ 14...Ne6 15.Rd1 ( 15.Nxe6 Rxe6 16.Rd1 Rd8 threatena d4)
15...Nxd4 16.Rxd4 Qf5 17.0-0 Rad8 and black looks better to me]
.
15.0-0 Rae8 16.Qf3 Re4 [ 16...Nce4] 17.Rad1 Na4?
.
[ 17...Ne6 18.Nxe6 R8xe6] 18.Bg5 Nxb2 19.Bxf6 Nxd1 20.Qg3 g6 21.Rxd1 Re1+ 22.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 23.Kh2 h6 24.Nf5! h5 25.Qf4 Qe6 26.Nd4 I have not checked it with a computer but maybe 26. Bc3 will win [ 26.Bc3 gxf5 ( 26...Re2 27.Qh6) 27.Qg5+ Qg6 28.Qd8+ Kh7 29.Qh8#] 26...Qd7 27.Nf5 Qe6 28.Ng7 Re4 29.Nxe6 1-0
misato 234 ( +1 | -1 )
game analysis Indeed a very interesting game, Steve. I might try Tarrasch's variant (3. Nd2) to the French opening next time, as I don't like playing French with White! My opening book says that one of Black's disadavantages is the isolated Pd5 and on the other hand the Nd2's minor position is White's problem.

I fully agree with jstack that 8. - b4? is a bad move because the answer 9. Re8 generates more white problems on the e-line than he can solve. At least the Pc5 will be re-lost and Pb4 needs protection - no success for White in the opening!

My inner feeling strongly recommends 16. - Nce4 (instead of 16. - Re4) as this knight is quite a giant in the center - on the bishop's opposite colour! It is hard to be expelled (f2-f3 is really ugly), furthermore the black knights and the Pd5 protect each other perfectly.
On the other hand White's answer 17. Nf5 Re5 (17. - Re6? 18. Rfd1 (threatening Bxb7) a6 19. c4 makes Black feel uncomfortable) 18. g4 should be analyzed carefully (I haven't done this so far).
White seems to have an easier position as I can't see a good ides for Black's future strategy. Doubled rooks on the c-file are answered simply by c2-c3 and White gets control over the e-file.

Indeed, 18. Bg5 was a very good answer to the "ugly" 17. - Na4 and looks already decisive! After 18. - Nxb2 19. Bxf6 the line you chose seems to be forced:
19. - gxf6 20. Nf5 Kh8 21. Nh6 Qe6 (21. - Re6 22. Qa3) 22. Rb1 with a lot of pressure to f7 (22. - Rb4 23. Qc3 or 22. - Qe5 23. Nxf7+ both don't help).

I think the game is already lost after 21. Rxd1, so no need to look for alternative defence plans instead of 21. - Rd1+. Two white pieces for a black rook plus pawn is a good deal for White, especially with the Bf6's power which is worth at least a full rook!
A nice idea could have been 25. Qc3, but the way White handled the end was much safer, even without the black Queen's loss in move 28, for example: 28. - Qd7 29. Nxh5 gxh5 30. Qg5+ Kf8 31. Qg7+ Ke8 32. Qg8 mate.

By the way, I wouldn't even have taken the Queen: 29. Qb8+ Kh7 30. Nxh5 gxh5 31. Qh8+ Kg6 32. Qg7+ Kf5 33. Qg5 mate.

There are a lot of threats in the black coloured diagonal, so jstack's idea sounds well, but I didn't check it either.

Summary: After 17. - Sa4 18. Bg5 the position shows big problems for Black. Despite from blundering I think I would win it with White against an opponent in my rating range. (But when playing chess nothing is sure, especially because I didn't use a program to make my comments more reliable ...)
jstack 22 ( +1 | -1 )
16..Nce4 17. Nf5 Re5 18. g4 I have been looking at this line and it seems to black is much better...probably winning. For example...

[ 16...Nce4 17.Nf5 Re5 18.g4 h5 19.Kg2 hxg4 20.hxg4 Nxg4 21.Qxg4 Rxf5 22.Qh4
Ree5 23.Rh1 Rh5 24.Qxh5 Rxh5 25.Rxh5 Qg4+]



misato 152 ( +1 | -1 )
re-analysis jstack, i agree that your line loks very good for Black. Instead of 19. Kg2 White might attack the black Re5, but this doesn't help either (19. Bd4? Nd2!):
19. Bf4 Rxf5! 20. gxf5 Qxf5 (and White cannot cover the two threats 21. - g5 and 21. - Nd2) 21. Qe3 d4!

But the game is not all lost for White, for instance: 19. Rfe1 hxg4 20. hxg4 Nxg4 21. Qxg4 Rxf5 22. Bh6 f6 23. Rad1 Nf6 24. Rxe8+ Qxe8 25. Qb4 with a very exciting position (for me it unclear which colour I would choose).
On the other hand Black can avoid these complications with 21. - Qxf5 22. Qxf5 Rxf5 23. Bxa7 Rfe5 and hopefully go for a draw, even if I would prefer White's position.

After these results 17. Rad1 looks more flexible than my first thought 17. Nf5 with too many commitments.

Going back to the threat's topic (even if it was not meant such detailed), there are a lot of plans for White in the middle-game, unfortunately I have no convincing idea for Black. Nevertheless I would like to know if White had foreseen the consequences after 17. - Na4 BEFORE his 17. Rad1 move (but premium_steve probably can't tell); playing with the white pieces 17. - Na4 would have been a big surprise for me (starting with the usual panic before looking closer).

Currently I am playing a game full of double-edged middle-game plans enjoying exciting lines as well. Maybe I will present and comment it in this forum after its end if the opponent agrees, hoping to be enlightened in some key-positions, too.
kingofmates 68 ( +1 | -1 )
books on the middle game Hello -- I've had a similar question for years. Excellent books are available on how to analyze positions to advance middle game play -- and I don't just mean how to study tactics. Grandmaster Ludek Pachman has written some extremely lucid and practical books on this subject. Look for his books "Complete Chess Strategy (I,II,and etc)" as well as his fine book "Modern Chess Strategy." Another wonderful writer, C.J.S. Purdy, the Australian writer and prior World Correspondence Champion has several fine books about evaluating the middle game, notably "The Search For Chess Perfection." Good luck with your studies,
Robert Swindall AKA: kingofmates