How To Play Chess Middlegame And Tips


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When we think of playing chess, we consider various aspects of the gameplay. We are constantly looking for the best opening moves and strategies that will ensure that we win, right?

Yet, there is one part of the game that is heavily neglected when we do our research. Ironically, this is the part that leads to the grand finale of the endgame. Thus, it is crucial that we know how to play middlegame in chess accurately.

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However, there is no steadfast rule that you can follow as you do for openings. The opening stages can be well-defined since the moves are independent. Through the game though, the moves and strategies change such that you have to improvise your steps to befit the opponent’s gameplay.

With that in mind, we have a few chess middlegame tips for you that will come in really handy. We hope that by the end of this article, not only will you know the ideal methods for how to play chess middlegame but also know what not to do.

So let’s begin.

What is a chess middlegame?

Chess middlegame is the portion of the game that comes after the introductory opening phase and right before the endgame. It is the most crucial and volatile section of the game where all the real action takes place. It features diverse forms of chess middlegame strategy and pawn structures that ultimately influence the outcome of the event in the endgame.

There is no specific diversification to know when you are in the chess middle game or when to implement a middle game strategy in chess. Some games can end in 2-5 moves wherein there is no middle game at all.

Still, when you reach a stage where your opening moves run out and you need to either alter your strategy or adopt improvisation techniques, it signifies that you are in the middle game and in dire need of a chess middlegame strategy. We cannot stress enough how important a middle game strategy in chess is. It involves the entire process of attack and defense so you either win or lose the game.

In order to devise a good chess middlegame strategy, you need to know the basic principles, so let’s take a look at them.

Basic principles of how to play chess middlegame

The basic principles of the chess middlegame dictate how successfully the game is progressing for you. You need to build your chess middlegame strategy around the basic principles so you lead your troops towards victory. Here are the basic principles of how to play middlegame in chess:

  • You need to be extremely mindful of the pawn structure you created during the opening stages of the game. They hugely influence your chess middlegame and subsequently the endgame.
  • You will find that most of your and the opponent’s pieces have moved considerably by the time you reach the chess middlegame. Make sure that in their attempt to move, your pieces take up a considerable amount of squares in the center of the game board.
  • This part of the game is where you start strategizing. Take a look at your pieces and that of the opponent’s to devise a suitable middle game strategy in chess.
  • You need to balance the scales between offensive and defensive gameplay during the chess middlegame.
  • This is the time to take a gander at your opponent’s side of the board and analyze the placement of their pieces to determine their strategy. Instead of taking guesses, use the chess middlegame to get a step ahead of your opponent by accurately identifying the strategy that they are using.
  • During the chess middlegame, you will start to recognize patterns that might indicate that you will lose. Don’t let negative thoughts influence your gameplay. Instead, take this crucial time to devise a good middle game strategy in chess that will inadvertently tip the scales in your favor.

The basic principles of chess middlegame will help you get on the right track to play the game. However, you need a good strategy to utilize these principles to the full extent of your chess skills. Let us take a look at some of the useful tips that you can employ to devise a good strategy.

Tips for how to play middlegame in chess

When you reach the chess middlegame, you start to get a little flustered. This is the perfect time in the game when you can determine a good strategy even if your opening was slightly rocky. We have 7 useful tips for how to play chess middlegame with good strategy. Use these tips to define a strategy but keep your mind open for improvisation.

Here are the 7 chess middlegame tips that you can use:

1. We start with the pawns in the game

During the opening moves, you will introduce the pawns to the gameplay and most of them are either isolated or flanking another piece. You need to identify if any of these pawns are in a position of weakness.

Pawn structures influence weak squares, advancements, and your overall strategy. Since these elements cannot retreat in case of a threat, you need to ensure that your pawns are in strong positions to dominate the game board.

2. Find a viable strategy to befit the opening

Your opening moves mark the manner in which you are going to play the remainder of the game. However, not all opening moves need to be improvised.

Find two strategies that work well together and merge them to make a middle game strategy in chess. For instance, the English chess opening can seamlessly blend into the Queen’s Gambit Declined.

Use the chess middlegame to transpose from one strategy to another but do so effortlessly so as not to tip off your opponent.

3. Occupy the center of the board.

It is where all the action takes place so you need to dominate the center of the board with useful, high-achieving pieces.

During the opening moves of English chess, and similar strategies, you need to find ways to occupy the center of the board and disallow your opponent’s pieces to pass through. This is a means to protect your king at the back of the line.

Tips for how to play middlegame in chess

4. Prevent the allowance for weak squares close to your home base.

Your home base is where the king resides and you must protect it at all costs. If you notice an opponent’s piece or pieces threatening a particular square from multiple sides close to the home base, it is time to use a middlegame strategy in chess to capture and eliminate the threats.

Tips for how to play middlegame in chess

5. Block your opponent’s pawns from reaching the far end.

Both you and your opponent will use the chess middlegame to advance your pawns to the other side so you can retrieve any pieces that you may have lost. It is important that you block your opponent’s pieces when they try to make it across the board.

This is a little difficult if you only have pieces available nearby that take small steps or no useful major pieces in the vicinity.

This is where your bishops and knights come into the picture. You can block an opponent’s pawn with the knight and capture it with a bishop. Make sure not to leave any pieces in the diagonal positions though, otherwise, your opponent’s pawn will change direction.

Tips for how to play middlegame in chess

6. Cover open squares, lines, and rows with rooks.

Often, you will see that some files, I.e., rows or lines of squares are absolutely abandoned by you and your opponent. In such cases, the best thing to do is place a rook at one end of the file so it covers the length and backup that rook with the other rook to ensure that no one tries to capture the first one.

This basic principle in middlegame strategy actually helps you occupy distinct squares and limits the movement of your opponent’s pieces.

Tips for how to play middlegame in chess

7. Pair the bishops together.

Luring your opponent into a stacked pawn structure at the beginning stages of the game may seem like a lucrative move, and in some cases it is. However, you must never use your bishops and knights to accomplish this feat.

The two bishops that target the black and white squares individually are actually very powerful together. If you can devise a chess middlegame strategy to unify the bishops in the central part of the board or at least block the squares around your opponent’s king, you come close to pulling off a checkmate.

Of course, there are risks to leaving the bishops in the center, so you need to guard them with your life. Use the knights and a defined pawn structure of your own to guard the bishops and lock your opponent’s king. Then you can instigate a viable strategy to checkmate your opponent effortlessly.

Tips for how to play middlegame in chess

Things not to do in chess middlegame

Now that you know the things that you are supposed to do in the chess middlegame, let us discuss some of the common mistakes that people make. The chess middlegame is a crucial time in the game that dictates whether you win or lose the game. Therefore, any mistakes that you make at this point will be hard to recover from.

Here are 5 things that you must not do in chess middlegames:

  • Don’t move your pawns without a definitive pawn structure in mind. The pawn structure plays an important role in creating vulnerable squares in an opponent’s block. They also help block certain moves and protect major pieces on your side of the chessboard.
  • Don’t move your pieces, especially from the second line of defense randomly. These pieces will help capture, block, and checkmate your opponent. You need to have definitive moves in mind when you play these pieces on the game board, especially in the middle game.
  • Don’t sacrifice influential pieces from your side simply to wreck the opponent’s pawn structures and strategies. Most people have the tendency to sacrifice one of the bishops or knights in order to poke the opponent’s strategy. However, as we have mentioned before, these pieces can work wonders when they team up. So, avoid sacrificing them.
  • Don’t rely on your own strategy and ignore the opponent’s game structure. You need to constantly monitor the opponent’s moves and anticipate their strategy. You have to watch out for possible captures in a subsequent couple of moves and prepare accordingly beforehand.
  • Don’t abandon your King even if he is castles and definitely don’t block him. The ultimate goal is not to capture your opponent’s pieces. It is to checkmate your opponent’s king before they check yours. Keep a healthy troop around your king without blocking him from all sides. That way, none of your opponent’s pieces can penetrate your line of defense, nor can the opponent’s knight checkmate your enclosed king.

Avoiding these 5 major mistakes in the chess middlegame will help you further amplify the influence of your strategy and help you win the game.

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