Nowadays, everyone is super prepped up in openings, you might be too, and you're likely getting good positions out of them, but it's in the middle game where battles are decided. In this magnificent video series, GM Alterman (ELO 2611) carefully takes you through all the key aspects and secrets of middlegame play.
Exploiting open Files - Part 5
One of the things that Steinitz made clear was the importance of controlling the open file: "Move your rook to an open file! Controlling an open file is one of those little positional advantages which could decide the whole game". Rooks are more powerful on open files and often this factor decides the outcome of a game. This is because the side that controls the file has a natural invasion route for their pieces down the file. A common strategic objective for a rook or queen on an open file is to reach its seventh or eighth rank (or for Black, its second or first rank). As we already studied, controlling the seventh rank (or second rank for Black) is generally worth at least a pawn, as most of the opponent's pawns will usually reside there. Aaron Nimzowitsch, writing in his famous book "My System" said that the main objective of a rook or queen on an open file is "the eventual occupation of the 7th or 8th rank". However, seizing an open file is not easy, as your opponent can try to trade off the heavy pieces or take control over the 7th and 8th rank, preventing your rooks from reaching those targets. Control in this instance means the ability to keep your opponent from trading off the heavy pieces, and leaving the file under your control. Typically, this is done through doubling the rooks on the open file, and in some cases, "tripling" on the file with your Queen. This can have the effect of forcing your opponent into a "passive" defense since if the rooks are able to penetrate to the seventh rank, the attack or the transition into the end game will almost always be favorable for you and result in a won game. Don't miss this new and formative series by our GM Boris Alterman!