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I'm trying to improve, as all of us are, and have a question:
Do you have a list of questions you ask yourself after each ply? I know the basics, "what is the threat? Is my king in danger?, etc.", but I would like to know what other questions you may ask.
When the middle game is under way, I take a minute to determine what the imbalances are: is material even? if not, who has what? who has more space? who has a lead in development? are there any weak squares?
So I try to determine which of those things are an advantage to me and which ones are an advantage to my opponent. Then its just a matter of maximizing my advantages and minimizes my opponent's.
For example, in our last game, by move 7 you had a good space advantage on the queen side and were cramping me. I had to do something to minimize that advantage. My knight on c3 was all but worthless and there wasn't enough room for me to manuever it to get it to the weak square on c5. So I just sacrificed it, ended up getting three pawns in the process, which meant that we were technically still even in material. That took away your space advantage and left the queen side open for my pawns to take over that side. The major imbalance then was our difference in pawns and minor pieces. Everything after that was based on trying to push those pawns up the board while limiting the effectiveness of your minor pieces.
A book that I read that helped me a ton was "The Amateur's Mind" by Jeremy Silman. He explains how to determine what the imbalances are and how to exploit them.
Hope that helps.
Considering pawn moves in particular... I think a question that's very important is:"What holes am i leaving behind by moving this pawn?"
Many times a simple pawn move can create a nice place for knights and bishops to hang out.
I second "The Amateur's Mind". I have it and it is very helpful.
Sounds like the slim classic old book "How Not to Play Chess", by Znosko-Borovski. I remember he advises a full assessment of material and non-material elements at key positions, such as the start of the middle-game. Not so easy in the rush of battle. I'm sure lots of modern books cover the same ground that old teacher Z-B did.
Well, since this site has a nice 2-step process for making moves (first move then press submit), I like to make the move on the board and then look at it before I press submit. I am surprised at how many times I miss something obvious.
Do you use the "analysis board" under the moves tab? That allows you to work out any number of possible moves - it's really helpful.
In fact, I work out many combinations that I find favorable, save them to the notes section, and then hope my opponent follows these continuations (or force him to if I can!)
Thanks for the comment about the "analysis board". I'd seen the link but didn't know what it was for. What an awesome tool.
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