Sticking to a plan in chess

When reading chess writings, you will be often find yourself presented with the following wisdom:

"When playing, you have to come up with a plan and stick to it".

Now of course this is a general rule - and sometimes it may not work. Many things have been written about it already.

 Meniscus for example wrote a nice blog post about the difference between planning and strategy, and he more or less asserts that 'a plan' often does not exist. (Blog: "There is no plan")

WIM Energia on the other hand came up with articles about planning in chess, suggesting ways in which we can try to do it ourselves. (Article: "Try your hand at Planning")

In this blog I would like to share a recent game I played that is (I think) a good example of planning and following through with it. 

The opening is an Italian and I play black. I get a shot at more than equality, but in the end the situation goes back to 'normal' with white having some sort of advantage around 8. ..Qd8. 

The next few moves are in the 'inbetween' - it no longer is of use to strictly follow opening principles, but the greater plan isn't there yet. A Knight is exchanged for a Bishop.

Then at move 11. ..h5 the 'plan' for this game comes into play: I'm going to try for a kingside assault, probably by means of a pawn storm, queenside castling and building a rook battery. 

As the game progresses my opponent undertakes some action at the queenside. Holding was not so  difficult for black, and I decided not to react too much but to go on with my scheme. 

While Fritz finds improvements here and there (including a recurrent scheme for world domination that seems to revolve around ..h3), I think the game is mostly interesting from a human perspective.

Even though neither side played only the best possible moves, I was clearly playing with a plan - and it worked. So for now, I'm going to promote the rule again: always try to play with a plan! ;)

Enjoy the game!



  • 7 years ago


    Yeah the opponents moves are there as well, but if your plan is the quicker one he never gets to finish his' before he is mated.

    Often you'll see two players playing their own attack. Silman says (in "The Amateur Mind", which I like very much) it is usually the player who starts reacting first (instead of carrying on with his own ideas) that winds up losing.

  • 7 years ago


    [..] "Otherwise nothing ever gets done." 

    Nicely said. I've read some people claiming that (below the 2300 level) the only important thing is to create complicated positions while getting the tactics right. 

    That may work, but you can try a plan too. I did in this game and it works out nicely!

  • 7 years ago


    "In chess it's important to make up your mind and to stay with your plan, and you shouldn't change plans unless circumstances dictate it. Otherwise nothing ever gets done." From Kotov. I don't remember if it's from Think Like a Grandmaster or Play Like a Grandmaster. But it's still true. Smile

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