Today will mark the start of a series of new articles that will span the next couple of months. The topic of the articles will be "Planning in Chess." One has to differentiate between the ideas of strategical play in general and a specific plan. Strategical play has to do with improving a given position with strategical methods, usually without tactics. This play is characterized by the following methods:
a) Regrouping pieces with the goal to improve activity;
b) Improving pawn structure;
c) Exchanges (this we covered extensively over the last year);
What is a plan in a chess game? Sometimes, we cannot do a, b and c at the same time. Thus, we choose one component and follow it, for example improving the position of the knight by transferring it to the centre. The specific choice to move the knight over other strategical options is the plan. When we get a position without tactical play, a peaceful one, our goal would be to maximally improve the position of the pieces. Then, figure out which pawn structure will benefit us and look at which pieces are good to exchange. Of course, there are many methods of how to approach a given position. In my previous articles I described the method given by Dorfman. One can be guided by many signs, for example: seeing a weak square in opponent’s position and injecting one's own piece there. I would like for you to concentrate on the 3 elements presented above. Of course, sometimes the position requires a tactical solution to get an advantage or to defend successfully. Then, the positional methods will be too slow. With time one develops an intuition in which positions to look for what type of solution.
Every week I will present two positions to solve. The goal will be to find a plan for one side. I am looking for roughly 3-move plans. One has to evaluate the given position and find a plan according to a, b or c presented above. You have to identify candidate-moves and choose the one you think is the strongest. Sometimes, the positions will be of a tactical character… because during the game you never know what to look for. You will have a week to discuss the position here in the comments section and in my next article I will provide the thinking process, as well as the solution to the exercise. I will also give two new positions to solve. I think planning is a very important component of chess strategy that one has to work at. I have trouble with planning too while playing, thus these exercises will be beneficial to me as well. The positions are not easy, but they are also beneficial because you will learn typical ideas in middlegames, as well as endgames. So, the two positions are: