(adapted by Herman Grooten)
The following thought process which is recommended by Karpov and Mazukevich is used to detect the important features of an arbitrary position in order to devise a plan that conforms to the positional assessment derived by using this thought process.
This thinking process is based on 7 criteria in which the White position is compared with the Black position.
1. What is the material balance?
2. Are there any (direct) threats?
3. How is the safety of both Kings?
4. Pawn structure questions:
a. Where are the open lines and diagonals?
b. Are there many strong squares?
c. Who is controlling the center
d. Who has more space and where on the board do they have it?
5. Which pieces are active and which are not?
Go through the questions out loud while doing middlegame positions based on Stoyko Exercises. The idea is to practice “talking out loud” with the list in front of you so that when you are in real game mode the questions will be asked subconsiously.
Source: Chess Strategy for Club Players pg. 37.