Chess Middle Game

Chess Glossary - Chess Middle Game - The Middlegame BeginsThe Chess Middle Game stage ... while there may be arguments as to when this actually occurs, one of the more agreeable theories is:

  • "When all of your major pieces have be moved from their starting positions, into a more active region of the board."

You may also here some say:

  • "The Middlegame begins, more-or-less, once your King has Castled to relative safety and your Rooks have moved inwards from their outer, corner squares."

Of course, it could be pointed out that neither of these two rules fully occur in some of notable Checkmates, such as the Fool's Mate, or the Blackburne Shilling Mate.

However, these "quick 'Mates" are somewhat of an exception and far more games have been played - and will be played - with a greater quantity of moves ... From the majority of games played, it's possible to, roughly, separate a full game into the three main stages of:

  1. Opening Game;
  2. Middle Game;
  3. End Game.

Staying on-topic, with the Middle Game, what is it that characterises this stage of a game of Chess?

The Exchange

One of the most common features of the Chess Middle Game stage is the 'Exchange', where both players will deliberately seek sacrifice their major and minor pieces, in exchange for their opponents.

You may hear mention of a 'Swap Off' ... This is another name for the Exchange, as players attempt to 'swap' one piece, for a similar piece of their opponent.

For example, a player - say, Black - may deliberately put his Knight onto a square where his opponent - White - may likely be tempted to capture with one of his own Knights ...

If White does capture, Black will have another piece, within range, such as the Queen, to capture White's Knight.

It could play out like this:

Of course, the ultimate goal of the Exchange - from your perspective - is for you to gain advantage once the swap off has concluded ...

This may be either a positional advantage and/or material advantage - that is, you end up with more of your pieces on the board, than your opponent.

In the video example (above), Black captures one Pawn more than White AND gains positional advantage, with his Queen and advanced Queen's Pawn leaving Black, arguably, in a better position than White, as this Chess Middle Game stage plays on.

Further Study

Chess Glossary - Chess Middle Game - The Middlegame - Book 1For extra help in understanding the Middlegame, I've recently been dipping in and out of an appropriately-named book: "The Middlegame", by M. Euwe & H. Kramer.

Dr. Max Euwe was a Dutch mathematician who achieved the status of Chess World Champion. In 1935, Euwe beat the famous player, Alexander Alekhine and continued to hold the World Champion title for two years.

H Kramer, also from the Netherlands, achieved International Master status, during his time as a Chess player. To achieve this title, one must be a very capable player - it's an intermediate step to becoming a Grand Master.

The Middlegame is actually split into two books:

In Book One: Static Features, Euwe and Kramer focus on Pawn formations as fundamental to the strategies and tactics found during this stage of a game of Chess. They determine the relative worth of a Chess Piece, which is vital in determining how to value a potential exchange of pieces. And they look at Open and Closed formations; the struggle for open lines and weak Pawns.

In Book Two: Dynamic and Subjective Features, they focus on taking the initiative, during the Middlegame stage ... maneouvreing pieces for positional advantage; whether to 'liquidate' a piece to improve your situation; plus ways of attacking the King.

In Summary

The Chess Middle Game can be said to begin once your major pieces have all been moved once - and, often, Castling the King, to either King- or Queen-side, will also have occured.

The Chess Middle Game is the stage when Exchanges take place, with the aim of gaining either material or positional advantage, at least - ideally, both. When it comes to how to evaluate which piece to exchange, for which of your opponent's pieces, the work of Euwe and Kramer discusses the 'relative value' of the chess pieces.

Check Out The Chess Openings, Prior To The Chess Middle Game
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