This is is the first blog of a series of blogs on the middlegame aspects of chess. Most of these examples are provided from Silman's books but most of the comments are my own. Please enjoy and leave any helpful comments.
One thing that has become very apparent to me as I have read some chess books and have also seen my own games as well as other people's games is the thought process in the middlegame. I have noticed from personal experience that people just look for moves in the middlegame without actually evaluating the position first. That has happened to me because i never studied chess strategy and learned chess the wrong way. I believe this is many people's thought process (as well as my own) because they learned the tactical side of chess before learning the strategical aspects of chess. Looking for moves in the middlegame is NOT the right way to play chess. You must first evauluate the position before you even consider calculating.
So how do we evaluate the position? Well according to Silman we must look for imbalances in the position. In my opinion greater than 90% of the time there should be some imbalances in the position for both sides unless both sides somehow manage to get a completely symmetrical position (which doesn't occur to often).
What are imbalances? There could be several different kinds of imbalances during the middlegame for both sides. Here are the most important ones to consider when playing in the middlegame:
Minor piece activity (this includes which pieces are more active as well as looking for what minor pieces you own as opposed to your opponent)
Pawn Structure (isolated pawns, passed pawns, backward pawns)
Space (which side controls more territory and how one should plan their attack based on the side they have more spatial advantage)
Development (which side has more pieces out)
Initiative (which side dictates the play of the game)
Files and squares (which files are open and useful; which square are weak)
All these topics will be addressed in far greater detail with examples in my other blog posts. But for now it would be very helpful for your chess development to be thinking about these thoughts during your middlegame instead of just thinking about moves in the middlegame.
Here is an example puzzle of how your thought process could be during the middlegame.
What are the imbalances for both sides using the list of imbalances I told you about?