It is said that today openings are connected to middlegame plans and even with potential endings. But I can't find those middlegame plans, except for some occasional comments in opening books. In fact I feel lost about middlegame plans. What is the best way to learn the plans related to the openings in my repertoire?

  • Books and master games – Jimmy360 Sep 24 '16 at 13:09

Try taking a look at books that discuss the structures arising out of various openings. Andrew Soltis' Pawn Structure Chess and Mauricio Flores Rios' Chess Structures both provide good overviews of the appropriate pawn breaks, piece placements, and defensive resources. Of the two, I'd say Rios' book is the more rigorous and comprehensive.

It's certainly possible to learn this by examining master games, but it's a lot more time-consuming. If you're going to try this, I'd recommend anthology / memoir books by authors who specialize in the openings you like (Kasparov: KID, Bronstein: KG, etc.). I found Svetozar Gligoric's I Play Against the Pieces useful in this regard because he divides the games into sections by opening. Sadly, this last one's become a collector's item in the last 10 years (well, sad for you, anyway), so it's pricey at the moment.

I also strongly recommend John Watson's Mastering the Chess Openings series (4 volumes) as a reference. Each volume can be had in used condition for less than $15, so it's not an outrageous purchase, and Watson's approach is to explain in words what's going on in the variations, and their pros and cons. You may not use 80% of the material, but whatever relates to your opening will will be a goldmine, and is certainly worth the price.

Some publishers do an exceptional job of trying to convey opening theory with these strategic pointers mixed in. For specific openings, I can recommend Everyman Publishing's two series, Easy Guide to the ... (about 12 volumes, now out of print but available in used condition) and Starting Out: The ... (about 40 volumes available).

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Look at and study hundreds and hundreds of Grandmaster games from the 1800s onwards. Also check out the book How To Reassess Your Chess and other related books

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The Middlegame Vol. I and II by Max Euwe is terrific. My System by Aron Nimzovitch Chess Fundamentals by Jose Capablanca (good for beginners and up) Think Like A Grandmaster by Alexander Kotov Ideas behind the chess openings Rubin Fine

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There are only two overarching plans in chess.

  1. The short term one is to play to attack the opponent's king in a mating attack.
  2. The long term one is to queen a pawn in an endgame.

Study the master level games that relate to your opening repotoire and learn the typical piece manuevers that support the two plans I mentioned above.

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  • 1
    Study of master games is certainly an important supporting element in learning how to play the middlegames from your openings, but is a difficult resource to mine for the primary ideas. It takes time to understand the different ideas that are going on, and a lot of sifting to see which ideas recur most often, and which are rare. The right theory book is the next best thing to a coach in this respect. – jaxter Sep 24 '16 at 19:02
  • This answer is terrible because: 1) It is erroneous; 2) Even if it were correct, it wouldn't answer the question asked. – Scounged Sep 27 '16 at 23:02
  • Ok Scounged, if I'm wrong then please show me a game that doesn't fit the overarching plans I've outlined in my answer. Also I did answer the question. The question was how to learn plans in a specific opening. My answer was to study the master level games from that opening. – AS3Noob Sep 28 '16 at 1:13
  • @AS3Noob chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1102400. The immortal zugzwang game by Nimzowitsch. Note that black wins not because of a mating attack, or the queening of a pawn. One overarching plan in chess I would say better describes the essence of some openings than your (2) is the accumulation of small advantages, which Steinitz was very fond of. The game I gave here is more in the spirit of that plan than the plans you have given in your answer. As for the late reply: I forgot about this post. Also - out of curiosity - what openings aim for queening a pawn in the endgame? – Scounged Jan 2 '17 at 4:52
  • @scounged thanks for the reply. One example of an opening line that aims for queening a pawn in the endgame is the exchange variation of the ruy lopez where white gets the 4 v 3 pawn structure trump on the kingside. In your example game, white resigned due to zugzwang. However, if the game had continued to its logical end, then black would have to win eventually through means of a mating attack or by queening a pawn followed by a mating attack. Yes, I agree my answer is a bit glib, but I still assert that when it comes down to it pretty much all chess games are decided in those two ways. – AS3Noob Jan 3 '17 at 2:21

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