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I've been through all of Jeremy Silman's books in the last two months. But, I was wandering how early do you 2000+ players come up up with a plan? Also, how early do you come up with your plan and do you change plans often during a game? Any help or opinions on the subject would be very helpful, thanks to any and all who respond.
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Right from the gate...
The purpose of the opening is to prepare for the middlegame... The purpose in the middlegame is to prepare for the endgame... It's the end that governs and to the end that master players must look at continually... All plans devised on the board must keep this vision in mind...
The plan starts from the beginning (knowing the characteristics of the opening chosen)... If you can learn the strengths and weaknesses of an opponent, (what he is comfortable and not comfortable playing) a psychological warfare begins even before the battle is fought... And that is added to the part in planning...
As for changing plans... I think it happens ever so often... Sometimes your must react and adjust to the real threats on the board... But with every change you do from your initial plans, your losing chances increase... But ever so often a combination will crop up and adjust your plans with a increased, and at times, game winning move...
And lets not forget the opponents blunders... That can change anyones plans from happening... A quick mate is a cherriehed fate...
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I really enjoyed that! Nice to see this good constructive side of you, I always knew it was there :-))
It cannot be long before you must make some improvement on the list, maybe you should consider to play a bit more games!
All the best
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Thank you for your reply. I guess what I was getting at was how do you find an active plan and what questions does one ask ones self when doing so. With the exception of mind numbingly obvious weaknesses in the enemy camp or an opening in which the plans are very easy for me to understand, such as opposite side castling and locked centers, I have much trouble finding a plan. Things like play in the center and wide open positions are hard for me to understand, when to initiate central play and the mechanics of such attacks are foreign to me. Maybe my problem isn't so much planning as lack of attacking aptitude, or maybe it is planning I have no idea. Any how, I go over alot of annotated games and I study middle game books quite a bit but none of it is seeming to come together. Did you guys ever hit a block like this, and if so how did you get past it? I figure if I just keep at it someday it might all just suddenly click and make sense, but if that is incorrect then it seems like a waste of time to keep trying so hard. Any and all help is greatly appreciated from anyone who wishes to reply.
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Something that may help:
When playing a game in which your opponent has both the initiative and the advantage, try to work out what you think his plan is.
When you have worked that out, then try to work out your defensive plan(s).
There are normally two types of defensive plans - passive or direct defence, and counterattack.
It is usually prudent to work through both approaches.
Counterattack can start with some very unlikely looking moves, so time is needed to investigate all possibilities.
If your opponent wins with a good attacking plan, analyse it after the game - after all if he can do it so can you!
If you are playing someone of similiar ability and strength, it usually comes down to creating weaknesses in your opponents position (isolated pawns, doubled pawns, bad bishop, cramped position - that sort of thing) and then exploiting the weakness(es) with careful and accurate play.
This requires good endgame knowledge - as Bros has explained, the opening, middlegame and endgame are seamless!
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As a footnote:
plans don't need to be complicated and elaborate.
for example: if you have created a plus in your position that you think will lead to a winning endgame, then your plan might simply be to force your opponent into as many piece exchanges as possible.
You can bet that your opponents plan will be to avoid piece exchanges!
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If you've read Silman's books, then a lot of the above should be a repetition of his advice. I found the Amateurs Mind to be very helpful, and in particular it pointed out the issue of lazyness in assessing an opponent's plan. My rating is <2000, but I might also say that nothing except a combination ever clicks for me in chess; my improvement happens incrementally.
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A couple of other thoughts maybe.
2) Lost games
Taking the first and digressing for the moment.
1a). Imagine the area you live in, close your eyes and think of three routes you might take to purchase a newspaper one Sunday morning.
1b). Think of a friend you know who has moved out to a city/area you have never been to and again imagine three options to purchase a paper one Sunday morning in this strange and unknown setting.
Both 1a and 1b should (hopefully) yield positive results - eventually.
I would imagine 1a will immediately be the more effective in terms of “speediness” to obtain the paper, “confidence” in executing the strategy to obtain the paper and “provision” of alternatives plans in doing something different if (for some unpredictable reason) your first attempt should fail.
By comparison, 1b) may be "as effective” or it may not. Predictable problems you may encounter are “becoming lost”, “getting mugged”, taking “to long” to find the shop (and finding it shut)..
(Of course, it goes without saying that all these three eventualities can all to readily be experienced in chess!!)
Where does all this lead us with regard to your question???
Key (for me) is to experiment with one or two openings which I feel more (or less) comfortable with - as opposed to ones where I just do not and never will (for example, imaging the frustration a Francophile will feel when finding himself playing the French)
Select one opening for white and one for black (against either e4 or d4 for starters and later switch to the other one). Major big time on those openings. Research into them. Look both at grandmaster games and at internet site games played by lesser mortals.
Become familiar with “how” other players handle the varying positions. Check out opening books on your choice. Play through the games slowly and consider “why” particular moves were played. Where moves seem unusual or surprising choices to you then look more closely at them and see if you can figure out the merits of that that particular move.
Consider whether alternative moves could have/should have been tried. Trust me here. It really does not make any difference at this stage whether your ideas are good or bad. The objective here is simply to learn to look at games and distill ideas as you study them
If one looks attractive to you - but was not played, ask yourself why not. On closer investigation, did the player “overlook” a good idea you have spotted or did he "reject" it for reasons which are not immediately apparent to you at the moment.
Make notes of your ideas.
Keep a record of your thinking.
Thought 2 – Lost Games
They can teach you so much and and we all hate them!! It may be a generalization but I hold the view a lost game is as a result of one major - or several not so major - contributing factors.
Start over by playing as many games as you have time for in your selected opening.
Play against stronger and weaker opponents - see what worked well for you against the weaker opponent and reflect upon what you might have done to refute your own move (plan) should you have magically found yourself on the other side of the board. (I recall the Russians once got fed up of being busted by Fischer in one of his opening lines that they played the opening against him in a major competition to see how he played against it!!)
Against the stronger players…”experiment”.
Play both the "book" (recommended) moves and play those "alternate" moves you looked at in your earlier research that seemed interesting. Especially in the case of the latter pay careful attention to the way your opponent goes about exploit your novelty.
So where does this get you??
I suggest it gets you from scenario “1b” to scenario “1a”
The point I am drawing you towards is that (initially) the middle game of chess can be considered unchartered territory and short of helpful sign-posts along the way, very difficult to navigate through.
Faced with a left turn or a right turn which makes more sense in the dark!! Bottom line is don’t worry about it. Paralysis through Analysis can only ever be the end result here.
Play one game with the “Left” option and play another with “Right” option and compare the two afterwards. Most importantly, which one was the more comfortable for you to play?
To bore you further (and finally), it may help for me to blitz you through my 40 years of chess evolution.
1) Joined a club and played stacks and stacks of chess over the board. Hurt like hell when I lost and was great when I won. Bolstered opportunities for the latter by playing mad Gambits and lovely Latvians. Got a great grade but never really knew much about chess.
2) Started to investigate chess books. Two stick out in my mind as advancing me to my next stage of learning. “My System” by Nimsowitsch amd “The Art of Attack in Chess” by Vukovic. Both very different books but just really worked for me. Vukovics book in particular inspired me to play the Colle opening as White. Have a look at this opening, and see if it could work for you. Its advantage is it is more a "system" than “an opening” in so much as you pretty much play the same opening moves against most Black options. Its middle game ideas are relatively straight forward, it will rarely get you “busted” and gives you hopeful end game prospects (such as a queen-side pawn majority). Best of all (a la Vukovic) if Black plays weakly you can have some great fun attacking.
3) internalised the highways and byways of step 2 until I has a solid “chess-map” of my preferred chess repertoire opening. (That is had converted myself from scenario “1b” to scenario “1a”.
Above all else, enjoy your chess, play as much chess as your time allows and never, never become discouraged by your losses. Study them critically and try again.
All the best.
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yes I agree with furryfunbundle
“The Art of Attack in Chess” by Vukovic is an excellent book and very easy to read.
I also agree that making notes works very well - for some reason writing things down reinforces things mentally much better than not doing so.
Also make sure your all your goals are achieveable eg: your first goal might be to get your king safely castled and not allow your opponent to control too much of the centre.
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thanks raimon and furryfunbundle
That helped quite a bit. I have started to read The Art of Attack In Chess a couple of time and never was able to get through it, but on your praise of it I will work my way through it come hell or high water. I'm now reading The Art of Middle Game by Kotov and Keres, any opinions on that one?