I played this game on ICC the other day, and I thought that while not perfect, was a good demonstration of how to plan in the middle game.
leika (me) – kentaur (ICC G/15)
1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. d3 d6 6.
7. e4 This move doesn’t really go with the Nf3 system. White needs to commit to a Botvinik structure, or a reversed Accelerated Dragon.
Nf6 8. Bg5 O-O 9. Qd2 Ne7 10. h4 c6 11. Bxf6 Bxf6 12. h5 Qe8 13. hxg6 Qxg6
14. Rh6 This attack looks scary, but this is too soon for white.
Qg7 15. O-O-O f4 16. Rdh1 fxg3 17. Rxh7 Qxh7 18. Rxh7 Kxh7 19. fxg3 Bg4 20. Ne2
20…Rg8 This is the first critical point of the game. White has a queen and a pawn for a pair of rooks, so it is important to understand that I must keep the position closed. More open files allows for more play for Black.
21. Kc2 Raf8
22. Qb4! Not a brilliant idea, but this move is essential to finding winning play. Black will play on the kingside, I will weaken the queenside pawn structure. Failure to find this move may mean that I can only hope for a draw.
Bxf3 23. Bxf3 Bg5
24. Bh5! The idea behind this move deserves some sort of praise (or maybe I’m just egotistical). The idea is to close off the queenside. In order to keep material even, I must hold on to the g–pawn. To do this, I will push g4–g5 and follow with Ng3–Nf5, closing the files. Black’s rooks will not be able to find effective counter play.
Rf2 25. Qxd6 Bf6
26. Kb3 Getting my king out of the way. Rxf2 is met with Qxf6, with a clearly better position for white.
Rg5 27. g4 Kg7 28. Ng3 Rf3
29.Nf5+ The plan is complete. Notice how following the plan was more important than calculating complex variations. When fewer pieces are on the board, play to an over–arching goal, not to an unclear position.
Nxf5 30. exf5
30…e4? Black’s first major error in this game, neglecting the idea of Qd7+. There is not much for black to do though, the blockade is simply too strong.
31. Qd7+ Kh6 32. Qf7 Rxd3+ 33. Kc2 Bg7 34. Qe6+ Kh7 35. Qxe4 Rd4 36. Bg6+ Rxg6 37. fxg6+ Kh6 38. Qf5 Bh8 39. Qh5+ 1–0
Notice how this game was broken into several small plans. In the opening, I played on the h–file. When the game opened up, I created a blockade on the kingside to constrict my opponent. Then when the blockade was complete, I improved my position and used my blockade to create a mating net.
When playing a game, while calculating individual lines, it may be beneficial to identify a plan and then find the supporting variation rather than vice versa.
Feel like I missed something? Feel free to comment below!