Mikhail Chigorin is often quoted as saying, "Even a poor plan is better than no plan at all." Kotov tells us that a plan is essential and that "Every master makes a plan for the middlegame after the first six to eight moves." but what is a plan and how does one make effective plans during a chess game?
Kasparov defines a plan as being "a well-considered order of operations aimed at achieving a definite and concrete objective, the order taking into account the situation on the chessboard and constantly modified by the opponent's actions."
He continues, "The plan is built up on the basis of a concrete evaluation of the position and its peculiarities. Therefore, it is important to be able to analyse the fighting formations of both sides and to understand all the subtleties of the position."
Evaluating the Position
So, if we are to believe Kasparov, the plan we eventually chose will be based on our evaluation of the position. Therefore, we need to begin by analysing the position on the chessboard in front of us, examining the strengths and weaknesses for both sides.
We need to look at:
Space and the centre
Piece placement and mobility
Control of important files or squares
When assessing the relative safety of both kings we need to take into account the following things:
Space and the Centre
Piece Placement and Mobility
Control of Important Files or Squares
"The files and diagonals act as pathways for your pieces, while squares act as homes." - Silman
It is important not to overlook the small details which may, at first glance, seem insignificant (As Kasparov says, "the subtleties of the position"). For example, a pinned enemy piece may be all that is needed for a successful attack.