Planning for novices.
There are 2 ways to improve your planning.
One is analysing your games and try to understand what you did wrong .And the other is to study good books.
I will try to give some practical advices so that will alow you to do planning mistakes(wrong plan is better than no plan).
The key in understanding planning is understanding how to read the pawn structure.
Here is an example:
Let's focus on Black.
First let's see which of the pieces are good and which are bad for now.
Bd7 and Be7 are not especially good.
Rd8 , Nc6 , Qc5 are good , Rh8 is bad.
Some thoughts of the position.
Black's king is not so safe.Maybe a precautious Kb8-Ka8 would be useful.
d-file is open , e-file is semi open for white , g-file is semi open for Black.
Nothing available for Be7 and Bd7 for now.
What about Rh8?
hmmmm , it would be quite good on g-file attacking the white king, no?
Obviousy yes but just a rook on a file can't do much.Maybe doubling the rooks?Yes , but again he has defense.How can Black increase the pressure?Advance the pawns?Yes , why not?
Which one?f5 or h7?If Black pushes her f-pawn(14...f4) , she surrenders e4 square and helps Ng3 to improve(15.Ne4).Yes Black can push that knight back with a later...f5 but that will create other problems(e6 weakens and it's on a semi open white file).It's an interesting plan if Black is able to massivelly push the pawns(...f4-f5-e5) but she decides to reject it.
Let's recap:Black decided to create a pressure on g-file by advancing her h-pawn and doubling her rooks.She also wants to improve her bishops.It is quite obvious that since the attack on the king is the goal , the best is to find a way to point all her pieces on the white king if possible.
Let's see how she proceeded:
You see that in the above game Black accumulates small advantages.
First creates a pressure on g-file , then improves her bishops , then double her rooks and voila , the position is winning.It looks simple when a good player does it but it's not.We all know that.
When you try to find a plan and there is nothing you can see look for open or semii open files.Try to find possible targets.Think of pawn advances that might create more pressure.Check for possible piece improvements.Target your opponent's good pieces and exchange them or push them back if you can.Try to be realistic with your goals(that might be the most difficult part in planning). You might want all your pieces in the best possible positions(we all do) but that is not always attainable.You might want to attack the king(we all do) but that is not always viable.A simple realistic goal is much better than a complicated unrealistic one.
I will try to show more exaples in my next posts.