At the core of any chess game, lies the middle game. It starts after the end of the opening when most chess pieces have been developed. From here on, it’s all about improving your position to deliver a checkmate. When you first open, you have several options and well-defined moves to create a powerful onward play. However, it is often the chess middle game that decides the result of the endgame.
Since the middle game has vast possibilities, it often requires creativity, anticipation, and abstract moves. It also requires greater study and practice to master. When playing, the middle game requires a lot of planning. You have to be strategic in your choices, and you have to take into account both the short-term and long-term implications of your moves.
Transitioning from the Opening to the Middle Game
During the opening of any chess game, the moves of the opponent don’t matter. Players, both beginners and advanced, have a set system that they utilise to make their opening moves. It’s in the chess middle game that your moves become much more dependent on the choices made by your opponent.
If the rival player makes an incorrect or correct move, you have to be tactful and change your gameplay accordingly. Keep in mind that the middle game is vast, which means that there is no real way of telling when the opening ends and the middle game begins. However, a simple rule is that when all pieces have been developed to a certain degree and your opponent begins to attack – you’re in the middle game.
You should know that often the verdict of the game gets decided in the middle game. Several grandmasters don’t even make it to the endgame as the game’s outcome becomes imminent in the middle game itself. Therefore, it is important to develop a strategy that helps you navigate the middle game a lot better.
Important Principles to Manage Your Chess Middle Game
In the middle game, the pieces on the board can be anywhere. This means there are endless positions and no fixed principles to follow. During the opening, you can learn what pieces to move, where to position them, and when to make different moves – these are fixed principles, easy to learn and follow. With the middle game, you only have access to general principles to help you stand your ground. Here’s taking a look at a few important ones:
Plan First, Move Later
One of the most important chess middle game tips for beginners is to plan before you move. As mentioned above, the middle game depends upon the moves of your opponent. This means that you have to plan for the next 4-5 movies before you take a step ahead.
Evaluate Your Position
When you decide to attack or capture another piece, ascertain its impact on your position. Will it strengthen your gameplay or weaken it? If it’s the latter, you should avoid it at all costs. An imbalance in the number of pieces you have vs your opponent is much easier to correct than weakened gameplay.
Fortify Your King’s Standing
While evaluating your position, always keep in check the placement of your King. If your King stands in a place where it is safe from attacks, all the other pieces can become offensive and deliver one attack after another.
Ascertain Your Opponent’s Moves
When you’re in the middle game, don’t keep all your focus on your pieces. Instead, you should carefully examine both your position and your opponent’s stance. When you’re moving a piece to attack, ascertain whether a counterattack from your opponent will do more damage.
Strengthen Your Side
In case you’re attacked, always make the next move about repairing your position. Any weakness in your game will end up creating a long-term issue. You will be left with a middle game where your pieces block each other’s way, thereby creating mobility troubles. Therefore, before you attack, it is important to exchange pieces to free up space and avoid potential attacks.
Focus on Piece Mobility
Keep in mind that when you have an active piece, it can cover a large number of squares on the board and also deliver multiple attacks. Owing to this increased activity, the piece is considered quite powerful. To keep your pieces active, position them in the centre of the board.
Compare Piece Value
When attacking or defending, you will inevitably lose pieces. Even then, if you wish to keep yourself in a strong position, calculate the value of each piece. For starters, never attack with a chess piece that is worth more than the target. Next, when you’re starting an attack, ensure that you have more attackers than defenders and vice versa.
Rely on Pawn Structure
The opening principle of chess states that you should not move your pawns. Instead, you should focus on positioning other pieces across the centre. As per the chess middle game strategy, you should only move a pawn if it strengthens your pawn structure. You should focus your pawn movement on opening up files for other pieces.
Learn About Closed and Open Positions
Closed positions are those that are surrounded by pieces. When you’re in a closed position, you should use your Knight to deliver attacks. It can jump over different pieces and pawns and can strengthen your game. In case you find yourself in an open position, you should use the Bishop as it can cover a long distance in just a single move.
Exploit Weak Links
As we mentioned earlier, chess’s middle game is all about planning the game in response to the opponent’s moves. Therefore, it is important to exploit your opponent’s weakness to strengthen your position. More often than not, it is your opponent’s weakened pawn structure that you can exploit. You can easily take a backward pawn, an advanced pawn or an isolated pawn without much effort.
Ensure that You’re on top of the Middle Game
Now that you know more about the importance and principles of the chess middle game, you should know the most important rule of all – always have a plan, even if it’s a horrible one. When starting a game, you should have a plan in mind that takes you through to the endgame. The plan could be a preparation to attack the King or it could be about eliminating the rival player’s pawn structure little by little.
If you’re a beginner and looking to improve your middle game, you should check out these automated chess boards from Square Off. Designed with the help of advanced robotics and AI, these boards can help you learn chess as you play. They feature automated chess piece movements, interactive lights, personalised coaching, and much more!