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Ideas for situations when no move seems good.

  • #1

    In some of my chess games, I encounter situations where no move seems particularly "good". This usually happens in the middle game. The position normally seems about equal in these situations.

    At my level, I have a hard time thinking very deep, so I try to come up with good, solid moves on each turn without thinking too far ahead. Many times this is not difficult ... look for something that creates a threat, seizes a tempo, or maybe just develops a piece to a useful square.

    Occasionally this is difficult. Nothing seems particularly good, and I have heard many times it's not good to waste moves or make pointless moves, so I look for something sharp that seems to create initiative. Many times it's just not there.

    So, what should I generally do in these situations? A lot of times I think "well, having doubled rooks on this file would be good" but it might take 3 or 4 moves to accomplish this. I feel like my opponent can really take control in that many moves, so I'm unsure if I want to use that much time. Is there anything that strong players do in those situations as to not waste time?

  • #2

    Somebody said: tactics is what you do when there's something to do, strategy is what you do when there's nothing to do.

    So, I guess the answer is Strategy :)

  • #3

    A few  general recommendations:

        1. Improve your worst positioned piece.

        2.  Restrict your opponents mobility.

        3. Better coordinate your pieces.

        4. Move your king to h1

         5. Create luft.

  • #4

    A fairly zen-like answer is "play a move that maintains your position" (worst case) or improve the worst placed piece (best case).

    If you really believe this position doesn't scream out loudly for a move to be played, let your opponent initiate a threat or act with force.  He's more likely to be wrong than right.  Don't ever be the guy who "forces" things (unless there's a tactical reason!)

    Dr.Steinitz (and game theory in general)  clearly says you can't play winning moves UNLESS you have something on the board worth exploiting.  So if you feel the board is quiet, don't ever do something rash.

    This idea works wonders at club-levels of play where weaker players are always forcing a trade, making stupid threats that actually help you or the ones who break tension first ... often with disastrous results (giving up a piece, a pawn or even with stronger players => creating some color/square weakness on their end by doing so!).

    Some of the strongest bullies at our local clubs just play solid and wait for you to do something forced/stupid like those mentioned above.  Wouldn't hurt to emulate them :)

  • #5

    Or figure out what your opponent wants to do, and prevent it.

  • #6

    One of the best threads I've read for a while on here. I can totally empathise with the initial question; some really good advice as well! Thanks all.

  • #7

    Time to offer a draw and go home.

  • #8

    I guess it depends on the position.  Do you have an example?

  • #9

    This happens to me sometimes too, I'm not very good yet but I've figured out if you just sit and think and develop a good plan that may require the sacrifice of a few pieces then you can break through some of the defences made. 

    Anyways I know this is old but this is just for anyone who needs help later on. Stop, think about a plan, make sacrifices and you'll do well. Sacrifices for a reason obviously. 

  • #10

    I am no way near the level of being able to advise you, but the waiting move comes to my mind.

  • #11

    1When in doubt centralize

    2When in doubt improve your last worst piece

    3 When in doubt make no pawn moves

  • #12

    I know this is an old topic but here are a few ideas:

    1. Improve your worst placed piece.

    2. Identify any useful pawn breaks you can work towards.

    3. Instead look at it purely from your opponent's point of view.  Find what they want to do and then find a move to make that more difficult / not as effective.

    4. In general distrust de-centralizing moves and pawn moves in front of your king when you're feeling unsure what to do.  These are almost never good waiting moves.

  • #13
    If you can't find a productive move to equalize or give you an advantage, then you have to either liquidate material and or position. So, in that case, calculate what would do the least damage. Or you could opt to try making your opponent have to choose between two or three choices. In a timed otb game, it could perhpas give you a time advantage, inspite the potential loses otherwise, but also help to cause him/her to make a bad choice, regardless of the type of game.
  • #14

    Thanks for the responses everyone. A lot of good suggestions.

  • #15

    I would suggest you getting a few books.  I would recommend you read the following:

    The 3 Orange books from the Yusupov Series:


    When you finish those, do the Blue next, and while you are doing the Blue, read "Chess Lessons" by Victor Popov

    When you finish those, do the Green next, and while you are doing the Green, go thru the Predecessors series by Kasparov

    When you finish those, do the "Grandmaster Preparation" series by Aagaard, and while you are going thru those, read "The Grandmaster Battle Manual" and "Advanced Chess Tactics".

    This is probably a 10-year project.  So don't figure to do this all in a month's time.


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