# What exactly should you do in the middlegame?

Hi and welcome! 🙂 This is Igor Smirnov. In this lesson, I’ll show you one simple yet,
very powerful and simply must-know rule about middlegame plan. Also, I’ll show you my complete middlegame
play system. And before that, let me just say a few words
of why this topic is so important. Not long ago, I made a survey in my website
where I asked YOU and the other students to share your main questions and main troubles
with chess with me. And do you know what was the MOST COMMON issue
that chess players experience? It’s about how to play the middlegame! In the opening, it is somewhat easier – you
go and play these moves that you learnt. But once your opening knowledge has finished,
you appear in a complexed middlegame situation with a plenty of possibilities and then, it’s
really not easy to figure out WHAT TO DO next. Let’s go and check some examples. Here is a relatively standard middlegame situation. The opening stage has just finished. Both sides have developed their pieces and
now it’s time to start realizing the certain middlegame plan. It is White to move and please think about
this. How would you play here as White? What do you think? In fact, there are many of the options that
White has. White can move the bishop somewhere to make
it more active or the other bishop can go to g3 or maybe to h4. The e2-knight maybe transferred to a more
active square, maybe to c3 or g3. The rooks can be placed somewhere on the central
files. To conclude, basically, we can play almost
whatever move you wish. 🙂 And that’s exactly where the problem is. It’s not that you don’t know what to do. This is rather that we’ve been taught SO MANY
ideas about chess – that you need to fight for the centre, or occupy weak squares, or
put a rook in an open file and so forth and so on, that in a practical situation, you
have a HARD time choosing exactly what you need to do. That kind of reminds me of this analogy – if
you come to a door and you want to open it, you don’t have a key, so you ask another person
“Do you have a key?” and he answers you “Sure, I have plenty of them. :)” And he gives you a bunch of a hundred
keys with the words “Try them out, something should work out!” Well, in a way, he is helping you but it is
not exactly kind of a help you would prefer to get. Instead, you need something SIMPLE, something
that you can follow, just take and use it. I’ll tell you the solution later but first,
let’s check what happened in the actual game. White played Bh4, pinning the knight. Black played g5 to get rid of the pin. And then White noticed the new weakness in
the Black’s position, so he played f4 to take advantage of that weakness. Black replied with Qf6. Now the d4 pawn is hanging, and White needs
to do something about that. He played Bb5 to protect the pawn and at the
same time, put pressure on Black’s rook. Black removed it and White kicked away the
knight which pressurizes his central pawn, then retreat back with the bishop. Black played Ne8. Okay, let’s stop here. Let me ask YOUR OPINION. What do you think about these moves of White? Were they good or bad or just normal/average? Well, one of the things that I would really
like to highlight here is that, for now, this is a really a middle of the game. It is 25th move of the game. Well, White still has his a1-rook there in
the corner doing nothing – not taking part in the action. And that’s a big problem because you are,
somewhat like, playing handicap chess – you are giving away your rook, playing without
it. Now let’s come back to the starting position
of this example and think what White should have done there. Here is the original position of this example. And by the way, this game is a game between
two players of about 2000 in rating. So, not for nothing, I took the game not between
two of the World’s top grandmasters but between two average level players so that you can
see what happens in the games of mere mortals, not Carlsen, Topalov and the other top players. And you see that, well, White did some moves
which was seemingly logical but they were all in different directions and pursuing different
goals. Like originally, it seemed like White started
to create some troubles for Black on the kingside and then White pushed f4 to pressurize there. it seems like White wants to open up on the
kingside – it does make sense. However, after that, White, all of a sudden,
played a move on the queenside, removing this bishop from the kingside direction. Then instead of opening the kingside, he just
closed it and as we discussed earlier, on the top of that, throughout these all moves,
throughout the whole game, the White’s a1-rook did not take part into action. Now we’re coming back to the original position
once again. So the main thing you need to learn here is
that, at the beginning of the middlegame, you really need to UNDERSTAND that not all
of your pieces are developed. Usually, you still have that rook on a1 which
did not make any moves in this game, and is totally passive. Also, you have the rook on f1 which did make
a move because it was involved in castling. Still right now, it’s doing nothing. Therefore, these two pieces, you still need
to develop. Usually, the best squares for them are the
central squares: c, d or e lines. And you just need to move it there, ideally
on an open file. With this knowledge in mind, what should be
the White’s next two moves in this position? It should be Rac1 and Rfe1. By doing so, you will activate all of your
pieces and you will make sure that you don’t forget about that in the further complications. Here is another example, as you can see the
pawn structure, the opening is very different. Still, it is White to move and please think
about this and tell me what are the two next moves White needs to play. Hopefully, you can notice an analogy with
the previous example. White needs to bring his rooks into play. Therefore, he needs to play Re1 and Rc1 – very
simple, is that right? Seems to be right. However, now let’s take a look at what happened
in the actual game and you will see that it was something very different. 🙂 White played Re1, then Ne5, Bb1. I don’t even analyze these moves too much. I just want that you pay attention to the
fact that the White’s rook is always standing on a1, out of game, even though it was so
easy for White to develop it. And you see that so many things happening..the
knight is maneuvering, the rook is coming to the attack and during all of those moves,
it’s already the 25th move of the game, still the rook stands in the corner doing NOTHING. Once again, this example is taken from the
game of players about 1900-2000 ratings. Probably, you never heard about these names
so I don’t even tell you them. However, rest assured that it’s not only for
this level of players. Whenever a new student comes to me, very often,
I see the same pattern in the games of FIDE Masters and even International Masters (IM)
sometimes. They lose a game and still their rook is on
its original place which should never happen to you. This time it is Black to play. As always, please think about the position
and tell me what do you think Black should do. Of course, you may take into account of things
you already learnt from the previous examples. Now before we move on to the right things,
let’s check what happened in the actual game. Black played a6, then after the exchange and
c4, he got destroyed within a few moves. 🙂 So the game didn’t last long. Let’s go back and think what Black should
have done here. As always, you need to think how to bring
your rooks into play. Currently, they are inactive. And you need to activate them somehow. Usually, in the middlegame, we need to castle. This time, it’s more difficult to do that
for Black because the knight is pinned and the king cannot go away, the knight will be
lost. Anyway, Black still needs to find a way to
bring his rooks into play. And there are a number of possibilities how
this may be done. For example. Black can play Rd8 to bring this rook into
play and also to support the knight. And after that, Black may either castle kingside
or the kingside rook may be activated though the g-file because after an eventual exchange
of pawns, this rook can be activated along the g-file. Anyway, the moves that Black really needs
to play are the moves Rd8 and probably, Rg8 or maybe castling. For instance, you can start by Rd8 and on
the next move, you can decide what to do next. For example, you can trade the pawns and put
the rook on the g-file to make it active and even start attacking White’s king. And in this case, Black would have an absolutely
normal position with mutual chances for both sides. You see, it seems very easy when you know
how to play but in the actual game, Black just got destroyed very quickly and again,
this is a player of about 2000 rated, so it’s not a beginner player. Still, he makes these obvious, hopefully now,
obvious-for-you mistake. Bottom line is you need to put your rooks
on the central lines at the beginning of the middlegame. You need to make two moves to activate your
rooks by placing them on one of the central lines preferably, on an open file. And usually, you need to choose from the c,
d, and e-files. This may seem like a simple rule but as we
have seen, by a couple of examples, even relatively strong players violated very often and got
crushed. So you need to make sure that you never fall
into this trap yourself. And also, it gives you a simple hint of what
you should be doing at the beginning of the middlegame so at least two moves, you can
make almost unthinkingly just by following this simple rule. Okay, I hope you will follow it and win a
lot of games. At the same time, of course, it was only one
rule. And, middlegame is a relatively complex thing,
so I cannot explain the whole middlegame strategy within one short video lesson. And also I noticed that based on the results
of the survey, I noticed that students really have a lot of questions about how to play
there and what to do there and how to evaluate positions and so forth. And that’s why to address them, I decided
to share with you my own SYSTEM OF MIDDLEGAME play and I call this new course “Winning the
Middlegame”. It contains a SINGLE SYSTEM of how you should
be playing while in the middlegame, how you should find the right plan and right moves. This is the system I use myself and I was
also present to need to my students. Therefore, I’m sure this is something PRACTICAL
that you can apply in YOUR games. And the main thing here is that instead of
a bunch of various theoretical knowledge that you can get from different tutorials, I wanted
to share with you a SINGLE SYSTEM that you can just take and use. I hope you will like it and I’m pretty sure
it will help you win much more games. This is a paid product and of course, it depends
on you, on whether you need this or not. Some players don’t have any goals in chess
and they don’t care if they win or lose. Sure, that sort of players, of course, you
don’t need to pay money for this course. At the same time, if you like to study chess
to improve and to win more games, then I would definitely recommend that you study this course
“Winning the Middlegame” and relatively convenient you will like it and I’m absolutely sure it
will give you a lot of new victories and a lot of progress. As always, I provide a money-back guarantee
for this course. And therefore, you can try it out and just
decide if this is something suitable for your needs. You can find a link here in the video and
you can check all the descriptions of the course there. Thanks for your attention, I’ll talk to you
in the following videos! 🙂

## 32 thoughts on “What exactly should you do in the middlegame?”

1. André Lundin says:

THANK you for doing such videos I really appericiate it its really helpful thank you!

2. prince girish says:

awesome

3. Mostafa Aboouf says:

thanks a lot , what is the system you use in thinking in each move , you see your opponent's move first or see your plans first or search for tactics or strategy … can you make video on this system .

4. Megumi says:

It's great to see GM Smirnov back in these videos

5. VidyVid says:

Mr. Igor, if I already own your courses Grandmaster secrets and Your winning plan and if I think I've mastered them, do you think this course would be needed/good addition?

6. chess games hub says:

I read this system in ur previous book..least active piece in work ..

7. ibrahim elsherbeny says:

جيده

8. Myint Lwin says:

thanks

9. Myint Lwin says:

thanks

10. saed knani says:

Great.. !!

11. Ronald Allan Bañares says:

i watched a lot of your videos. great stuff!

12. Jeff Green says:

At time marker 7:47, why not BxN or a3 and then BxN? That would win a pawn and also free up the a1 rook.

13. Joseph FERDINAND says:

He repeats the samething in several courses and the price is too much!!!!!

14. Vittoria says:

I-am-a-robot-Igor-Smirnov-,-and-I-speak-like-one-too

15. Bob Langevin says:

Thank you for the video. I often stall in the middle game without a plan. This video helped me move forward and it became easier to decide what to do after my rooks were developed. I won my next couple games against a computer level I have struggled with. Cheers.

16. Black Flash says:

So you need to develop your rooks and develop an attack while also defending the king with some of your pieces.

17. Dave Humphreys says:

I appreciate your use of sub-titles for those with hearing difficulties, but, they are interfering with the chess board image. Since the board is on the left of the screen, could you, perhaps, arrange to have the sub-titles displayed over on the right of the screen?

18. MikeJillGames says:

I think the answer to the question did white make a good move is no I think it was bad

19. MikeJillGames says:

Rc1 then Re1

20. Jeff Sol says:

2000 elo is not average, but 1600-1700 is at 4:55

21. Smart Medico says:

how can i buy ur lessions packages in nepal

22. vaidehi Mishra says:

thnks very nice trick

23. Joseph FERDINAND says:

119 dollors! this is called fleecing! absolute nonsense!!!!

24. Parth Iyer says:

For the third problem: How is the move Ke7?

25. Sanjeet Singh says:

looks you did mistakes on middle game …….when all the pieces are developed called a middle game …..and you still developing rooks all the time that's not the part of middle game….

you should make a videos that answers qustions of the people that went on the survey you said and you should make a video that says what to do in the middle game and more ideas about what to do in the middle game.

27. Crack 2 Hack says:

Opening ends generally when all the pieces are developed in the most active square possible and rooks are connected. Middlegame is about Finding key weaknesses in opponent's position, creating more weakness ( Backward pawn, Isolated pawn, Dark and light square weaknesses, shutting down their active pieces in opponent's position and then trying to attack the weakness. One of the key idea of middlegame is manoeuver the pieces to the best squares and then preparing to attack opponent's king. Activating the rooks is the part of Opening.

28. Abhinav Asthana says:

Thank You 🙂

29. glenn paul santillana says:

On position no.3, why didn't he explain 0-0-0? Did he forget?

30. Meme Abhiyaan says:

In a nutshell, this video only explained to keep your rooks on the open file which i believe everyone is already aware of but still thanks for the info !

31. Bagher Habibi says:

The first 6 minutes is waste. Just get to the point instead of keep repeating yourself

32. J Smith says:

This video should be called "How to position your rooks"