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  1. Forum
  2. General Chess Discussion
  3. How do I improve my middle game?

@tdunlap1310 my idea is that rather than dropping Nd5 in first, which as you point out isn't good, you first play Bxf6 taking away the defender of that square, so 1. Bxf6 Bxf6 2.Nd5 (attacking queen and bishop) Qxb2 3. Nxf6 gxf6 4.Qxf6 and Black needs to defend both mate and his queenside pawns

That was a well played game except for 21. Bh6 but I can see your idea that if Black had played pawn takes then you'd play 22. Nxf6 winning back the piece. It's important when playing a tactic like that to check all possible captures by your opponent as sometimes they might have a move that wins another piece while leaving your piece sacrifice still attacked! 21. Bh6 is an example of that as Black has Nxd5 winning your knight while leaving your bishop attacked.

Also while not related to the middle game on move 5 you played d3 rather than moving the light squared bishop which might have given you a slightly bigger advantage than allowing Black to just have it. Maybe 5. Be2 would have been slightly better as you get to keep your light squared bishop which is generally an advantage for White.

Problem number 1 : hanging pieces
I wouldn't dare giving advice here because I still do it.

Problem number 2 : missing simple tactics
I would suggest buying a software named CT-ART 6.0 and drill thousands of basic tactics until you can do them accurately with no hesitation.
That's of course easier if you are unemployed and single.

@kifaru >That's of course easier if you are unemployed and single.

Two things that I am not. I am quickly realizing how much time can be spent on this game. I unfortunately don't have the luxury of unlimited time :(

@tdunlap1310 CT-ART isn't a necessity (I don't have it) and lichess puzzles are fine just spend a fair bit of time on each one. It's not uncommon for me to spend 20-30+ minutes on a puzzle and sometimes 1 hour and I only play what I believe is the right move after seeing the whole sequence.

As usual, your main problem seems to be with tactics. More relevant to your question though would probably be studying master games. It's immediately noticeable out of the opening that you're putting your pieces in weird places, and this feel for the pieces is best improved by observation.

"Two things that I am not. I am quickly realizing how much time can be spent on this game. I unfortunately don't have the luxury of unlimited time :("

Late World Champion Botvinnik worked as an engineer and in an interview said that he would not have been better at chess if he were playing full time. So in a sense his chess benefitted from his work and his work benefitted from his chess. He was also married and his wife accompanied him to chess tournaments, where her duty was to fend off the press. So it is possible to balance work, family and chess.

Like any hobby chess needs time, money, and effort. You should find a balance between play and study chess. If you only play, then you do not improve and make the same mistakes over again. If you only study you do not improve either. Improvement comes mainly from analysing your losses, making sure that you will not lose in a similar situation and that you win if your opponent gets into a similar position.

There is no easy way to play middlegames, and they are strongly connected to openings you play. Usually when you leave an opening you should not just have an OK position, but also have a decent understanding what are the plans of both sides next, so that you can execute your own plan and hinder your opponent's. This is only steadily coming with your own playing experience and analyzing grandmasters' games in the same opening.

However, I definitely agree with the people here who say that in the game like you refer the main problems are with tactics. You just hang pieces, miss simple combinations etc. Of course it is hard to execute any plans in such conditions, even though you quiet understand many positional principles.

You should consider playing long time control games like here [ https://www.lichess4545.com/ ] so that you will have enough time to calculate simple combinations and concentrate more on positional subtleties. (Speaking of myself, I learned to play chess mostly in very long OTB games, but I made some progress on lichess as well.) And of course, solving tactical problems on lichess or other sites or in books will be helpful.

Doing mistakes and learning from them

Hello tdunlap,

I watched your example game.

I think you should focus on tactics between 1 and 4 (perhaps later 6)
halfmoves! in your games.
Try to calculate them correct!
Don`t loose a piece you don`t want to in this range! ;-)
There are many ways to reach this goal (chess puzzles etc. ) make the one that suits you!!
-focus on opponents intention with his move (what does he want to achieve? get in his head!): if it´s good try to destroy it, if it`s bad ignore it!

There are many other things, but concentrate on this first!

Hope I could help a little!

Thanks! Good luck!