Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blinded by winning

I recently competed at the Eastern Class Championships. First off, I did not gain another 100+ points of ratings. Rather, I walked away with some valuable lessons. One I will share here is my first round loss. It left a big impression as it was a game where I had a won position only to play like a caveman and turn a full point to a zero. As we say, “Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

The game started as a Benoni but quickly transposed the Saemisch variation of the KID where I have some “familiarity” of the position. Out of the opening, I ended up with a Space advantage in compensation for a slight Tempi in development disadvantage. Since the position was closed I was fine with this. As Black counter-attacked on the Q-side, I managed to set up a giant wedge pawn formation with the leader at d5. I think a part of me played for the artistic appeal of the pawn chain rather than the practical nature of it. There were stronger moves, I am sure, with risks. But having a flying geese pattern was “cool”.

As Black challenged my Q-side I was able to drive the menace back as he didn’t have enough attacking forces and I was setting up some tactical traps. An exchange occurred on the queenside liquidating the pawns, one set of rooks and Queens. It gave me a an advanced rook position where I challenged two pawns and won the blockading pawn of the massive geese pawn formation.

Here I was intoxicated with queening and started advancing throwing caution to the wind. Arrogantly thinking my position was so strong and my opponent was so un prepared that winning was inevitable.

What really happened was I stopped calculating as I was “so sure” this was a winning line I was blind to what counter chances my opponent had. ALWAYS consider the defensive powers of the side fighting for their lives as they could be as tenacious as …well.. me. I underestimated my opponent and lost the game with a couple of quick moves that over extended my advantage.

When you inherit a winning position, the first thing you need to do is take inventory of how well your pieces are coordinated. After winning material, the attacker is typically thrown into a square that is not ideal and requires a Tempo or two to restore balance in the position. I forgot all about that rule and thought I could simply “intimidate” my opponent. This sort of emotional rationalization is what blocked me from the proper thought process required to follow through with the right plan.

Do as I say, not as I have done.

Hard lesson shared here.


King and Pawn said...

Thanks for the shared lesson! I've definitely had that lesson before, but the way you've broken it down will hopefully help it stick.

I had the opposite lesson today in my Team 4545 game. I thought I was much farther behind than I was, and missed both a win and a draw. I'll put up a post mortem when the loss is a little less painful, hopefully tomorrow.

*I didn't realize that you could embed the viewer either, interesting! Have to look again, after all the coding work on the pgn4web viewer that's on my site now. Very easy to spend time *near* chess improvement but not actually on it...

ChessClues said...

A great game and post.

I also have a tendency to stop calculating later in the game when I'm a bit tired.

One thing I try to remember is that scene from the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" where the star's playing some other kid and he hears his coaches voice keep saying "Don't move until you see it, don't move until you see it."

Unfortunately it's easier said than done.

LinuxGuy said...

I just lost a long reply because you don't allow anonymous logins and I was on my other computer.

Once winning, Bd4 was necessary on multiple moves. You virtually had to try and exchange so that he would not have a bishop pair.

29. Nd5 instead of Nd4 wins, saw that right away, but it takes some calculation, I understand.

Trading rooks, you needed to play Rd6 and not trade rooks.

The long reply was better, but this was it in a nutshell.

LinuxGuy said...

You were up a pawn, and tried to win with what you were up with, namely the pawn, instead of re-strategize, maneuver, take stock.

That is an uber-classic mistake which I have made many times.

chesstiger said...

I also have problems with the saying "a game isn't over until its over" which means that one has to calculate to the end.

A won position makes us think that the rest of the game will be a piece of cake. However, that piece of cake can be eaten by the opponent easily if one isn't carefully.

Happens to everybody, including me. Going to sleep before the game has a result always turns into a bad result. Caissa is with the brave.

HeinzK said...

After a certain point in the game I stop calculating, thinking I have seen all that's coming... even though that moment of brightness was more than five moves ago

lefthandsketch said...

ooooof... i have lost an important game in the exact same way. An errant knight can be easily dominated by a powerful prelate.

Jim said...

As us under 1200 players (me) know chess can be a cruel game. The ending was a case study of the strength of 2 bishops vs a knight on the edge. Interesting game. I hope you share and celebrate a win as well.

Keep up the good work,


chess tactics said...

I also learned chess at but the beginner stage.interesting learning.