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The textbook division of game phases enumerates three of them:

In the opening, the focus is on development, in the middlegame - on attack and defense, in the endgame - on pawn promotion and realization of the material advantage.

Whereas this definition is good enough for humans, coding it in a straightforward manner would introduce evaluation discontinuity in many places. For that reason many programs define several game phases, based on the amount of material on the board.

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