Chess Midgame Analysis
Each game of chess goes through three distinctive phases. There’s the opening game, the midgame, and the endgame. It’s vital that you attain a degree of mastery in all of these phases of the chess game, as lack of knowledge in any one of them will severely hamper your results and progress in mastery of the overall game. It goes without saying that the midgame in chess is the most dynamic phase, where things slowly but surely begin to settle and develop into the endgame. So, what are some core principles that you should look out for and implement in your midgame to get better at it?
Watch out for holes in your pawn structure
The pawn structure is an often overlook part of the game, especially by beginners. But the more advanced players know that it’s very important to string your pawns together so that they can support and defend each other. There are three weaknesses in the pawn structure that you should be aware of – the isolated pawns (pawns that have no adjacent pawns to protect them in case of being attacked), the doubled down pawns (two pawns on the same file), and the backward pawns that haven’t advanced enough from their staring ranks to make a difference. Keep your pawns well-developed and protected, and you will reap the rewards.
The central pawns are usually more powerful than the flank ones
The rule of thumb is that if you have the chance to trade your flank pawns with your opponent’s central pawns – then do it. A big portion of the midgame comes down to controlling the center of the board. If you control the center, then you can develop powerful attacks and advance easier, while protecting your own back ranks. And a great way to control the center is to put pawns in and around it. But your opponent can also do the same – so the smartest thing to do would be to trade your flank pawns with your opponent’s central ones if you get the chance.
Knights and bishops favor different types of games
Another way in which we can describe the midgame of chess games is as a closed or an open game. If your pawns and your opponent’s pawns are interlocked in the middle, such as to make advancing in the game more difficult, then we would say that it’s a closed game. On the other hand, if the center is free, i.e., there are no interlocked pawns, then we would say that it’s an open game.
Well, depending on which type of game it is, you will find that the knights and bishops have their own level of usefulness. The rule of thumb is that bishops favor open games where they can cut through the middle all the way to the corner of the board without any pawns blocking their passage. The knights favor closed games where they can find the perfect square to jump off deep into enemy lines and cause chaos – perhaps by capturing the back rank opponent’s pawns. In this sense, it will be useful to trade your knights for your enemy’s bishops if you sense that the midgame will be of the open type – and, to trade your bishops for your enemy’s knights if you sense that the midgame will be of the closed type.
Rooks thrive on open ranks and files
At the beginning of each game, your rooks are at the corners of the board, and you’re powerless to do anything with them. But as the games develop, the rooks get the chance to move and they become one of the most powerful pieces in your game. To boost their power, you need to look for two things. The first thing to do is to connect your rooks on the same rank or file – without any of your other pieces blocking their connecting. The second thing to do is to make sure that they aren’t blocked by any of your pawns on their files – i.e., their files are open. This would make your rooks a devastating weapon that could end up winning you the game.
To round things off, we would say that as you strive to achieve the positions and strategic chess landscapes above, you should strive at the same time to prevent your opponent from achieving them. Implement the above positions and strategic decisions while preventing your opponent from doing so, and your midgame skills will reach new heights, and you will start winning a lot more games than before.
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