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Middlegame position from the game
Joseph BlackburneSiegbert Tarrasch,
Breslau, 1889, after 26.Qg5. Black played
1 Aims of the middlegame
2 Transition to the endgame
3 See also
4 Notes
5 Reference works
5.1 Classical middlegame textbooks
5.2 Modern texts
Chess middlegame
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The middlegame in chess refers to the portion of the game in
between the opening and the endgame. There is no clear line
between the opening and middlegame, and between the
middlegame and endgame. In modern chess, the moves that make
up an opening blend into the middlegame, so there is no sharp
divide. At elementary level, both players will usually have
completed the development of all or most pieces and the king will
usually have been brought to relative safety. However, at master
level, the opening analysis may go well into the middlegame.
Likewise, the middlegame blends into the endgame. There are
differing opinions and criteria for when the middlegame ends and
the endgame starts (see the start of the endgame). Factors such as
control of the center are less important in the endgame than the
middlegame. In endgames the number of pieces and pawns is
much reduced, though even after queens are traded, one may talk
about a "middlegame without queens". The key issue is often said
to be: when the kings are safe to play an active role, then it is an
Theory on the middlegame is less developed than the opening or endgames. Since middlegame positions are
unique from game to game, memorization of theoretical variations is not possible as it is in the opening.
Likewise, there are usually too many pieces on the board for theoretical positions to be completely analyzed
as can be done in the simpler endgames.
Aims of the middlegame
The Middle Game in Chess by Reuben Fine lists three major factors in the middlegame: king safety, force
(material) and mobility, although not all of these factors are of equal importance. If king safety is a serious
issue, a well-executed attack on the king can render other considerations, including material advantages,
irrelevant. Material is another important consideration, Fine notes thatif all other things are equalany
material advantage will usually be decisive. According to Fine, a material advantage will usually not give a
direct mating attack unless the advantage is very large (a rook or more), rather it can be used as a means of
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gaining more material and a decisive endgame advantage. The issue of mobility is ensuring that the pieces
have a wide scope of action and targets to focus on. The concept is largely strategic in nature, and involves
concepts as space, pawn weaknesses (since weak pawns can compel pieces to defensive duties, reducing
their mobility), and securing outposts for the pieces.
The strategy required for middlegame play varies considerably. Some middlegame positions feature closed
centres featuring maneuvering behind the lines, while other middlegames are wide open, where both players
attempt to gain the initiative. Dan Heisman noted three features which can seriously alter the way the
middlegame is played.
First, if the kings are castled on opposite wings, and queens remain on the board, the position can be very
violent, with both players aiming to assault the enemy king. Material considerations are often secondary to
pursuing the attack, and it can even be advantageous to lose pawns in front of the enemy king in order to
open up lines for the rooks and queen.
Second, positions where the pawn structure is static and locked, can also feature mutual attacks, since
players often elect to play on the side where they have more space (playing on the side of the board in which
their pawns are pointing). Time is often less of a concern in such middlegames, allowing lengthy maneuvers.
Players attempt to strengthen their positions and weaken their opponent's. Both players need to be on the
lookout for pawn breaks, and the possibility of taking advantage of the open files which may arise from them.
Third, if one player has an overwhelming material advantage and is clearly winning, the stronger player can
usually afford to violate several of the normal middlegame principles in order to trade down to an endgame.
For example, trading queens even at the cost of a ruined pawn structure may be a viable option.
Transition to the endgame
Not all games reach the endgame, since an attack on the king, or a combination leading to large material
gains can end the game while it is still in the middlegame. At other times, an advantage needs to be pursued
in the endgame, and learning how to make favorable exchanges leading to a favorable endgame is an
important skill.
The last thing that happens in the middlegame is the setup for endgame. Since many endgames involve the
promotion of a pawn, it is usually good to keep that in mind when making trades during the middlegame. For
example, World Champion Max Euwe considered a preponderance of pawns on the queenside (queenside
majority) an advantage because this might be used to create a passed pawn.
See also
Chess terminology
Chess strategy
Chess tactics
Chess piece relative value
Pawn structure
Chess middlegame - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_middlegame
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^ Heisman, Dan. "Novice Nook: The Six Common Chess States" (http://www.chesscafe.com
/text/heisman09.pdf). chesscafe.com. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
^ "Pawn Majority" (http://www.chesslodge.com/2007/02/pawn-majority/). chesslodge.com. February 17, 2007.
Retrieved 2009-03-21.
Reference works
Classical middlegame textbooks
Works mostly written before 1970.
Euwe, Max and H. Kramer 1964; 1994. The Middlegame. 2 vols: McKay; Hays. ISBN
Fine, Reuben [1952] 2003. The Middlegame in Chess. McKay; Random House. ISBN 0-8129-3484-9
Keres, Paul; Kotov, Alexander (1964). The Art of the Middle Game. Penguin Books.
Nimzowitsch, Aron [1927] 1987. My system. B.T Batsford Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7134-5655-4
Pachman, Ludek [1963] 1975/78. Complete chess strategy. Doubleday. 3 vols from the first edition of
2 vols. ISBN 978-0-346-12321-2; ISBN 978-1-880673-96-6; ISBN 978-0-679-13252-3.
Tarrasch, Siegbert [1895] 1999. Three hundred chess games. Hays. ISBN 978-1-880673-18-8
Znosko-Borovsky, Eugene (1938; 1980). The Middle Game in Chess. Dover. ISBN 0-486-23931-4.
Modern texts
Averbakh, Yuri 1996. Chess Middlegames: essential knowledge. Cadogan, ISBN 1-85744-125-7
Dvoretsky, Mark & Yusupov, Artur 1996. Positional play. Batsford, London. ISBN 0-7134-7879-9
Silman, Jeremy 1998. The complete book of chess strategy. Siles Press. ISBN 978-1-890085-01-8.
Sokolov, Ivan (2009). Winning Chess Middlegames. New In Chess. ISBN 978-90-5691-264-2.
Suetin, Alexey (1976). A contemporary approach to the Middle Game. Hippocrene Books.
ISBN 978-0-7134-3123-0.
Tisdall, Jonathan 1997. Improve your chess now. Everyman, London. ISBN 978-1-85744-156-7
Watson, John 1998. Secrets of modern chess strategy: advances since Nimzowitsch. Gambit London.
ISBN 1-901983-07-2
Watson, John. 2003. Chess strategy in action. Gambit, London. ISBN 1-901983-69-2
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