3 most important middlegame principles

After the opening stage, when you have developed your pieces, you need to find the right way to proceed in the middlegame stage. Just as we follow some basic opening principles, there are certain principles for the middlegame stage as well. Today we’re going to see the 3 most important middlegame principles.

Our guest coach, FM Marko Makaj (who is also the author of our course “Defending Champion”), has prepared a very instructive video lesson for you. In this lesson, he will show you a few examples to help you understand the most important principles of the middlegame.

You can watch the video lesson below:


3 middlegame principles:

1) Having a plan/idea

The plan depends on the current position on the chessboard and it may change in a later period. Remember the saying “A bad plan is better than no plan”. Therefore, it is always recommended to have a plan to follow in the middlegame. One of the most common and direct plans in the middlegame is to attack the opponent’s king.

2) Coordinate your pieces

Make sure your every piece is active and has some scope on the board. For instance, it’s often not recommended to have a few pieces on one flank and the remaining ones on the other flank. Always try to synchronize your pieces.

3)  Know your opponent’s plan(s) and stop them

It’s important to focus not only on your plan. It is equally important to also understand what your opponent is thinking and planning; and you need to stop it from happening.

About the author

FM Marko Makaj
Marko Makaj is from Croatia. He is a FIDE Master with an ELO of around 2350 and a chess trainer. He has held this title since 2008. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have time to play in tournaments in order to achieve the title of IM or GM. He has been working as a coach for over 15 years and many of his students have achieved great results.


1) Always try to find the way to checkmate (attack) the opponent’s king
2) If you cannot do so, then try to spot the opponent’s weaknesses and attack them. For instance, finding the loose pawns or the unprotected pawn/piece.
3) Always be aware of the safety of your pieces, especially of your king’s.

how to analyze chess games

  • male Gupta

    very new new things are happening on chess world everyday hard to cover everything igor sir.

  • male Gupta

    marko makaj is my faovurite coahc as ever ialways enhoyed his lessons on your webiste igor smirnov you are the best sir.thanks for this lesons pleaese make a course on how to play like levon aronian exclusively by you and marko thanks al ot.

    • Unlike some other authors, Marko explain things very well. I guess that’s the reason why you enjoy his lesson. Thanks for sharing your feedback!

      • male Gupta

        yes youare rifht the new article which is published today on your blog aobut hte opening states of the geame is just fantastic because in isle man of international karmanik sufers a deafesat from james tarjan a 65 year old gm and trent draw with kramnik what do you thhink about the isle man of internaiotonla. event.30 indian players are playing in this event.

  • male Gupta

    marko makaj is the best thanks al ot igor sir you are the est please make a course on how ot play like levon aronina thanks in advance.

  • Christos

    I like very much this lesson. Thank you for this lesson Marko Markaj and Igor Smirnov.

    • Hi Christos,

      Thanks for your comment! It’s nice to know you enjoyed the lesson!

  • thecritic

    can you provide info about games (who plays whom, year etc)? Thanks

    • RCA_moderator

      The first game is between Tarassch and Fogle. Unfortunately, I do not know the players in the 2nd game. But you can see the moves played below “Conclusions”

      Prasaadh | Support

  • Scott Patterson

    heya marko not only was this lesson good for the title but tactics in general. in the first example I saw the idea right away but impaitience exposed me to a loss for white. I rejected the slower re3 idea and the qh3 idea. thanks for the brow beating(head beating if your English is not natural yet). by the way I am very prowd of all you young gms. I play chess much longer then many of you alive and you all play so well and teach graciously. thankyou

    • Hi Scott,

      It’s good to know you are enjoying these lessons, and thanks for sharing your feedback!

      Also, thanks for your appreciation! It motivates us to keep preparing new lessons for you.

      As for “young GMs”, nowadays kids start learning chess at 4 years old, and train & compete rather professionally ever since. Those who don’t plan to make living from chess take it at a much lighter manner. Hence, even with years of amateur experience it’s still hard to get professional results. At the same time, I’m sure you excelled in many other spheres of life 🙂

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