This article is a follow-up on How to Deal with Mistakes in Chess – Part I
Reason 3: You did not play sharp enough yourself and/or did not believe enough in the strength of certain moves
Closely related to the previous phenomenon is the seeing of so-called “strong” defensive possibilities or the dissatisfaction about the measure in which a position is winning after the calculation of an otherwise correct move. In such a moment intuition has come up with the right move, but it is frustrated by the always controlling, critical and often greedy brain. In such a moment it is important to have faith in your intuition and to wonder if you’re not asking too much of the position.
For a chess player it is understandable that, after he has held the advantage for the better part of the game, he may feel that the win should come his way sooner or later, but reality is different and tough defenders may seize their opportunities . You must be willing to go into a technical phase or to exchange down into an endgame if that is what the position requires, even if the win seems further away.
Look upon the chess board and the pieces as an expedient that will give you insight into the battle when more and more moves are played. Especially the shouting moves will later show why they are so strong! Add to that the fact that a mistake once made, not taking into account immediately losing blunders, usually doesn’t screw up everything and you will realize that nothing is lost yet. It is impossible to play chess without a certain measure of risk. Another example:
In this position Black had just played Rd8-c8. Now, you might expect White to go ahead and play 1.Qxg7. After all he put his Queen on g3 to threaten the pawn on g7.. But strangely enough it would not happen in this game, despite three opportunities! The only excuse I have is that I was in mild time trouble, but nothing too serious yet. But maybe it was enough to start seeing ghosts and to play all kinds of safety moves that in fact took all the sting out of the position.
There followed 1.b3?! As mentioned 1.Qxg7 was good: after 1…Rg8 (yes, I saw “counter play”) 2.Qxh6 Rxg2 3.Qf6! White would be winning because of his control of d8, the protection of f2 and the free h-pawn. It was this final move 3.Qf6! that I apparently did not want to see or discover in mild time trouble. Nonetheless, some “faith” in 1.Qxg7 would have been proper. After all, if it would have come to that, I would have discovered 3.Qf6! without a doubt.
Sometimes it pays off not to calculate, but to have faith. It would have been even better had I applied myself and during my analysis of 1.Qxg7 searched for an Aha-move such as 3.Qf6!, without getting distracted by supposed needs for safety on the white squares. If you can reap the fruits of your labor, you should take responsibility and wrestle with the position, even when in (mild) time trouble!
The game continued: 1…b6 2.Qd3?! (White gives up on the idea of taking on g7 and threatens 3.Rd7, but sometimes the execution is stronger than the threat, and 2.Qxg7 was still called for) 2…Re7 (Black defends easily). 3.Qh7 (White tries another time) 3…R7e8 4.f3?! and in a strange way is consequent in his fear of “counter play”. Again 4.Qxg7 was possible.
Of course White’s last move is understandable. If possible he’d rather play Rd7 than Qxg7. However the former constantly falls a move short: 4.Rd7 Qc6 and Black does have counter play on the white squares, let alone the possibility of a capture on e5. Well, if you keep seeing counter play all the time you will never get round to winning!
And so, after 4.f3?! 5.Rd7 may be threatened again? There followed: 4…Qe7?! 5. Rd7 Qg5 6.Rxf7 Rc7 and fortunately White could now win with the nice move 7.Qg6!, but had all that been easier and simpler than 1.Qxg7? This brings to mind another nice example:
As in the previous example this position also originates from a Caro-Kann. White has managed to win a pawn on h6, but is now confronted with the usual counter play.
White is winning, but has to win the game for the psychologically difficult second time. Of course the power move 1.Qxf6 comes into consideration, a move that was also effective in the previous example. But doesn’t Black get too much counter play after 1…Rd2? The black pieces menacingly shift to the second rank and the white king has no “luft”…
Hmm, maybe we should start looking for alternatives. That is by the way the right method: first gather all the candidate moves; this is yet another important moment! Ok, 1.Qe3 is also possible. After all, I already have a free h-pawn, so I don’t need the pawn on f6, besides it will remain weak in the endgame, and if I manage to exchange queens my king will also no longer be in danger. That is a safe (uh oh…) alternative.
Ok, and now let’s calculate these candidates! And yes, the lingering started once again and for a change took another half hour or so! One of the most exciting lines I found after 1.Qxf6 was: 1…Rd2 2.Qxf7 Rxb2(?) 3.Qxe8+ Kc7 4.Qa4 (protects a2) Qe5(!) and White is faced with a dangerous discovered attack! Oops, what now?
It is strange but true that I did not find the following solution: 5.f4 (conquers a5) Qf6 6.Qa5+ Kc8 and now 7.Qe5 or Qc3 is curtains for Black. Also 4.Qe7+ (immediately on a black square) 4…Kc8 5.Qa3 Qe5 6.Qc3 and again curtains was possible af course. I remember that this line strongly contributed to my false sense of safety first and that I used the supposedly dangerous line as an argument for Black’s counter play.
Didn’t I want to win? No, that was also not the case. No doubt I also looked at 1.Qxf6 Rd2 2.Qxf7 and now: 2…Red8 when White has to be precise: 3.Rb1? …Rxb2! 4.Rxb2 Rd1+ 5.Rxd1 Qxd1 6.Rb1 Qd4+ leads to a draw by perpetual check. However after 3.Rhe1 Rd1 4.Rexd1 Rxd1 5.Qg8+! (not: 5.Qf4? Qc2!) 5…Kc7 6.Qh7+! (thus White reaches the vital diagonal b1-h7 – by the way 6.Qg7+ with the idea Qc3 is also possible) White comes out on top. A motive to remember!
The conclusion is that 1.Qxf6 would have lead to a rather simple and quick win, strictly speaking in accordance with the earlier stages of the game and the previous example in which the queen also plays the main part. I played however, you have guessed it, Qe3? and in a rook endgame luckily managed to keep my extra pawn, which only reached the other side of the board thanks to a mistake of my opponent (objectively speaking the position was a draw) after a long struggle.
(To be continued…)