Playing the Middle Game in Chess

The Middle Game

The middle game is somewhat like the post-flop scene in some poker games. In poker, players obsess with starting hands and their values before the flop; once the flop is seen, those starting hands may lose much of their value and a new phase of the hand begins.

In chess, there is a similar situation. You mustn't think that it all begins and ends with opening moves. After the opening, the middle game follows. The middle game is different from the opening. Here analyses of particular styles and situations are impossible due to the increased complexity of the match at that stage. With openings, you can study theories in books; but once in the middle game you are pretty much on your own.

Evaluating Your Position

The middle game is when you know whether your opening has failed or succeeded. If you played the opening well, you will be in control of the middle game. If you made mistakes, these mistakes will become apparent at this point.

This is the time to evaluate your overall position in the match. You have to weigh the number of pieces you have left along with their strength of their positions. Just because you may have captured more enemies than your opponent does not necessarily mean you are stronger. It is also important for your pieces to be strongly place.

Making Your Battle Plan

In the opening, you set up your pieces into fighting positions. In the middle game you actually work out and execute the battle plan. What your battle plan will be depends on your situation. Are you weaker or stronger than your opponent? If you are weaker, you need to be defensive and remove that which causes your weakness. If you are strong, you should take the offensive. So your overall strategy depends on your position on the board.


Now to carry out your strategy, you will use tactics. Chess tactics are moves or combinations of moves to gain an advantage out of a situation, or to exploit an already existing advantage. In the middle game you should pursue such situations aggressively. For example, a queen and rook controlling two adjacent files or ranks with the possibility of a precious capture should be used.

Tactics include the fork, pinning, blocking, eliminating the defender and decoying. You should learn these and other chess tactics early in your training. Do not limit yourself to opening strategies and abstract theories. Tactics are more practical and help you get into the game faster.

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