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Chess for Beginners; Middle Game Strategy
The Middle Game
The middlegame of chess lies like peanut butter, between the opening and endgame. The opening prepares pieces for battle, lining them up, and setting the board. The endgame allows for exploitation of strength, or clinging desperately to the final vestiges of hope. Middlegame play sticks it all together, a time in which planning, strategizing and scheming develop the game as you put together a winning plan.
The chess board continually evolves during a game. As plans are laid, they can also be thwarted or capitalized upon. During middle play, one must overcome obstacles and seek to achieve a winning strategy.
While creating such a plan, it is useful to employ the analytical method to your game. By asking yourself the following questions, one may enjoy a stronger position on the board. While the list may seem laborious, it is effective. Once you begin to analyze your position on the board, and ask the questions, the analytical method flows easily and logically.
The Analytical Method
1. Does the last move pose a threat? Deal with the threat. Be careful to watch for not only an attack by the piece moved, but also an attack by a piece that was blocked by the piece moved. Evaluate and respond to any threats.
2. Are all my pieces protected? If they are under threat, protect them or move them. Are any of my opponents pieces open for free capture? (Unguarded and vulnerable).
3. Is my King safe? Is the opposing King vulnerable? Can I sacrifice a piece to prevent castling? Be careful with this. Have I castled?
4. Did my opponent defend against the threat of my last move? What is my next plan of attack? Is my opponent's King vulnerable?
5. Are all my pieces developed? Typically, it is better not to move one piece multiple times, until all of your pieces have been developed. Play to the center of the board.
6. Can I move a Rook to an open file? Rooks are more effective when on a long file down the board, typically on d- or e- file. Can I double my Rooks or have a Rook-Queen on an open file?
7. What are my opponents weakness? How can I exploit them? What targets should I consider attacking?
8. How can I attack the targets? What other weaknesses might be exploited? What is my plan?
9. Does my move overlook something simple? Will I leave my Queen or King vulnerable? Always check this.
10. Look with a clean, unbiased mind. Look away from the board for a few seconds, before looking back with a fresh mind. Am I about to make a blunder? Am I leaving a piece hanging? Double-check everything and analyze any possible forced moves.
An Awesome Trap
Using the checklist may not ensure a win, but it will hopefully keep you from making obvious blunders in your game. The checklist can help develop a stronger game. Rather than memorizing one attack, like the one shown in the above video, the checklist allows one the flexibility to respond to attack, and rethink the middlegame.