| Stuck in the Middle
So just HOW do you convert a good opening to a great middle game? As I mentioned in a post in Local/and or General, the objectives in an opening seem very clear. The objectives in an end game are again clear. But what about the murky middle game? How does everyone else go about their middle games?
I'm a big fan of book openings. I really dislike emerging from the opening moves and finding
myself behind in material and/or position. As one GM remarked, it is easier to win from an equal or
better position. Standard openings have helped in that regard. This is not at all to minimize the
importance of tactical play in any phase of the game.
I see an opening much like a general plan (or strategy) for managing my chess pieces and if I
emerge from the opening as planned, I have an idea of where to proceed. So in that regard, the
opening and middle game are not totally separate entities.
How do I go about prosecuting the middle game? The easier question is probably what is the
goal I hope to achieve in the middle game? And that would be a clear path to end the game.
| when the worst openings make the best middlegames
the question is <<"HOW do you convert a good opening to a great middle game?">>
gentlemen, this is not about solving a puzzle.
this is about winning a fight.
Bobby Fischer put it this way, Chess is like boxing:
<<"Chess is knowing how to punch and when to duck.">>
So let's see what illumination we can get from one of the greatest prizefighters ever:
When Ali had been a boy in Louisville, Kentucky, he had a paper route that he delivered on
his dream was to get a bicycle.
he saved and saved and one day he bought a bicycle.
the very first day he had it, someone stole it.
Years later, whenever he would get in the ring, he would psych himself up and say,
<<That's the man who stole my bicycle.>>
and he would go out with his huge fists ready to kill him,
he would go out ready to draw blood
(and I've seen him box personally, and he would draw lots of blood),
he would go out and knock him down.
It wasn't about opening and middlegame and endgame --
it was about being motivated and taking out the opponent.
My best games begin
with the sorry-est of openings.
I get in such a mess, I get behind, I get outplayed --
and it makes me so mad --
mad at myself,
mad at my opponent,
it forces me to be super-creative and pull out magical finds from the position,
for me it takes a lousy opening
to come up with a strong and winning middlegame.
I have heard there are players who coming out of the starting gate enjoy so much of a lead
in having the intitiative, that their moves flow effotlessly into a winning middlegame.
I've heard that.
Maybe Kramnik plays that way. Or Timman. Or Aagaard. Or Anand.
Nezhmetdinov probably did. And Kasparov.
But for me it's not about
<<"converting a good opening to a great middle game.">>
it's about surviving a horrible opening and by force of will and drive coming up with winning
combinations, sacrifices, or transformative positional gymnastics that lead to a dynamic &
| Middle Game is pure tactics, if openings are equal!
Chess can be compared to a war and battlefields. War needs planning and strategy. In the same way, in chess, you develop the pieces in good positions and in most efficient way within a short time. Although there is no sharp line of demarcation between where opening moves end and middle game begins, IMHO, I believe after 15 moves most games will be in the middle game. With this view in mind, practice the few openings so that you can play up to 15 moves without much error. The reason you select few openings is that since there are so many openings, you cannot study them all. If you can play at least equal up to 15 moves, then mastering in tactics become the cornerstone to win the game. Even GMs can make mistakes in the middle game and more mistakes will be made by average players. If no players make the mistakes, the game will be ended in draw theoretically. Tactical skills of yours exploit on the opponent's weakness or mistakes but you have to see it. With practice you will have more tactical skills. Most chess instructors advice the average players to spend more time 80% on tactics than the opening preparation. If you come out of the middle game with significant material or positional advantage the endgame will be a piece of cake for you.
| Middle game is where the real fun starts!
I agree with John: book openings are the way to go - for me. I seriously dislike the feeling of being handicapped right out from the opening simply because I am wading into an opening without any idea of what's up and down there. Maybe, when I'm at shamash' level - which will take a little time, but I'm going to get there! - I will be able to ignore that. But right now I am simply not good enough.
So, I have a "couple" of good, in-depth books about selected openings, and another couple of books giving a more general overview, all supplemented by the actually rather good GameKnot DB, and that's the foundation for my middle game.
I revel in tactics. But I find I must disagree with ace_kyi - middle game is, for me, not pure tactics. The opening - or, to be more precise, the pawn structure - lays down the strategic framework from which tactics flow - based on opportunities created by the actual, complete situation on the board (not just officers). But quite apart from chance opportunities, I always keep a strategic objective in mind when evaluating tactical possibilities. Very often the aim of combinations is not, per se, to increase your relative force (capture enemy pieces), but to gain a positional advantage (like, say, a queenside majority, enforced pawn structure weaknesses, or like).
| Tactics v Strategy
Rmann thanks for the post! But I must disagree a little. Let us first consider the difference betwixt strategy and tactics. Strategy is what a CO may devise in his tent, with his sub-ordinates, whilst pouring over a map of allied and enemy dispositions, terrain, weather, etc. That same CO could be leading his platoon, company or even battalion in their quest to achieve the strategy when the battle begins. If everything goes to plan, like a text-book opening game, then, yes, I suppose his tactical decisions are highly informed by his strategy. But, none the less, once the guns spring into life, the game has become real-time and a single slip of judgement in the heat of battle, or an error upon his counterpart's behalf, and all could be lost or won. This is why I agree with (good night for A-K, two forums and I'm agreeing with him across both) in that the middle game is purely tactical. The DBase is gone. The books are gone. The cannons are roaring and it's all on you! Of course, if both sides have manoeuvred into reverse slopes then there is no result, merely a great waste of powder and shot, but, at least in the sub GM levels, this is hopefully seldom the case. There is always a daring charge to keep things lively and keep everyone thinking on their feet.
| Battlefield doctine
As white my opening play is usually dictated by only one objective. To assemble all the components of my Army a quickly as possible in the best positions possible. To keep clear my interior lines of communications open and usable. As black the same process applies, but with and eye to defense. Again interior lines are of the uppermost impotence. Even more so when playing black. White has the first move and with best play that is a formidable advantage. Reconnaissance or 'thinking ahead' is crucial. Your middle game situation is the result of your opening maneuvers.
| Interior Lines
Hmmmm, this post and your other post concerning the Dutch Defence have got me thinking, BC. I think my play is closer to the concept of flying columns than a whole army. After the opening, three or four pieces, usually a rook or queen supported by a bishop, a knight and a pawn or another bishop or knight, are assigned the role of doing all the pressing whilst the other pieces simply hold their lines or keep the King out of danger. I'm clearly not harmonising my troops or exerting the Control shamash mentioned in another thread. As ace states, the middle game is pure tactics, and tactically I'm going easy on my opponents as they only need to focus on three or four of my pieces at any one time. Conversely I'm putting a great tactical strain on myself as I'm attempting to break my enemy with a platoon instead of the entire brigade! It's a miracle I win at all! Tsk tsk, Tipsy!
| read this if you will.
its about a great battle based on 'Defense in Depth' and 'interior lines'. Counter-attack,and Tactical as well as strategic concepts. It is very applicable to the game of chess;en.wikipedia.org.
Rooks are Tanks!! Pawns are infantry Divisions. Bishops and Knights are mechanized Divisions. And the Queen..well the Queen is a MK 5 Tiger Tank.
I play book openings whenever possible - the gk database is pretty thorough. I refer to MCO sometimes too and a few openings books that I have. this usually sets me up for at least an even chance in the middlegame. what works best for me is to take my time with my moves and not rush. if a position looks precarious I will delay my move, think about it, go away and come back to it, use the analyze position function and work several scenarios. usually however I get it wrong, but sometimes this works great.
"if a position looks precarious I will delay my move, think about it, go away and come back to it, use the analyze position function and work several scenarios. usually however I get it wrong,"
Hah. Sounds familiar! But, armed with my new concentration on interior lines, perhaps the future shall be more profitable. I was perusing my current list of matches in middle game and, up or down, I could see the lack of mutually supporting and reinforcing positions as the military terms go. Time to put the flying columns and the oblique formations to rest and concentrate on a more wholistic approach like Sir John Monash at the Battle of Hamel.