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LCB, Issue #023 --, Plot a Winning Path in the Middlegame
April 01, 2013

Plan for Victory in the Middlegame

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #023 -- Plot a Winning Path in the Middlegame

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Last month we wrapped up the endgame series with three beautiful endgames from famous masters of yesteryear. We started with the reknowned gem played in 1925 between Reti and Alekhine. We followed that up with a well worked victory from meagre resources. This one was put together by the great Capablanca against Yates in 1930. The curtain on our endgame series came down with a stunning victory by Botvinnik over Alekhine in 1938, a precursor for a changing of the guard in world chess.

This month we begin on a new departure in our chess development. We will now discuss the chess middlegame. Over the next few months we will consider the secrets of this, the most intriguing stage of chess. We will begin with the most fundamental task confronting every chess player as he moves from the safe, secure opening into the dangerous waters of the middlegame.

Middlegame Planning

Why You Need a Plan

Every intermediate or serious player understands that without a plan in chess you are heading for a beatdown. Playing move to move without purpose gives you no chance of winning against anyone other than an opponent adopting the same regrettable policy.

If your opponent is following some kind of structured plan and you are not, then even if his plan is not so good, it will still be enough to take care of you.

If you are both playing to a certain objective with logical sequences being followed it will come down to who has chosen the best plan and who is doing the best job of executing their chosen plot. Harry Golombek neatly describes why it is of paramount importance to pick a plan and stick with it.

Forming a Plan

It's all very well concluding that you need a plan. But how do you decide what the correct plan is? First of all the opening you choose will decide the nature and the course of the game.

The pawn structure and the positions taken by the pieces in your's and your opponent's opening moves will inform play in the middle game. You do not drift aimlessly from one vague idea to the next. A logical flow of moves following one main idea encompassing the entire game will follow.

The characteristics of your position will always demand certain continuations from the early moves right into the heart of the game. Golombek goes on to describe how middlegame plans emerge quite deliberately from the opening. He then follows up with a more comprehensive example, a full game he played in 1962. Golombek - Parr.

Two Plans Going Head to Head

You choose a plan. But you're not the only one. Your opponent also wants to win the game. He's got a plan up his sleeve too. From intermediate levels up, players will at least start with some idea of how they want to play the game.

The quality of the plans chosen and the execution of those plans may vary depending on the strength of the players in question. The stronger the players, the greater their understanding of the openings and middlegame plans they run with.

Plans are chosen and carried out at a high level when top masters cross swords. We're going to take a look at two opposing plans going up against each other in another game played by Golombek. He explains what is happening in Morry - Golombek.

When One Plan Smashes Another

A perfectly played game by both sides must end in a draw. If both players choose good plans that properly fit their openings and then play out those plans perfectly, neither can be beaten.

If the game does not end in a draw it must mean at least one of two things. Maybe one player chose a better plan or perhaps if the plans were equal, one player carried out his plan far better than the other.

That's really what happens when a chess game is won and lost. One plan has overcome another. Harry Golombek describes in detail his victory over Footner, attributing his success to a superior plan faithfully followed. Golombek - Footner.

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