underestimating your opponent"
- The gallant losers
- Lane, G - Rowston, B (89), (1-0, 17)
- Lane, G - Coates, AE, (106), (1-0, 18+)
- Lane, G - Bazley, RJ (110), (1-0, 29)
- Lane, G - Cubbon, R (ug), (1-0, 32)
- Lane, G - Czerniawski, E (ug), (1-0, 33)
- Lane, G - Ehtesham, YAH (84), (1-0, 38)
- Lane, G - Hill, D (160), (1-0, 38)
- Lane, G - Regis, D (168), (1-0, 41)
- A noble draw
- The glorious winners
- What makes a difference? Thumbnail sketches of classes of player
Last year, I led a session on "What makes a difference? How 120-graded players beat 100s", and another following up last year's simul by IM Gary Lane. This is an attempt to do the two at once. The conclusions, but not the examples, from that other session are appended.
Also, last year I tried to stress the differences in quality between classes (e.g. county players play on in endgames); and this time I want to look more perhaps at the differences in degree - like, we all play theory, but the better players play more of it as a rule. It's mostly opening and middlegame stuff this time (he didn't have to play too many endgames...). Gary commented that the play was of quite high standard: he may say that to all the boys, but we did take 3 1/2 points off him which is probably 3 1/2 more than he drops some nights!
He also commented that he was in more trouble when in unfamiliar openings. The most spectacular example of that was in Chris' game, but others also gave him trouble. Now that does not mean avoiding theory at all costs - unfamiliar means unfamiliar to Gary, not unknown to theory or unorthodox . When we played unorthodox (like the Hedgehog) we usually struggled (Robin, Bruce, Eddie, Ray). When we played well-founded openings that we knew a bit about, we lasted longer (Matthew, Dave).
Trouble also arose when the opponent had counterplay - this is almost what we mean by 'trouble'. This is the problem with the Hedgehog - it's solid enough but you never know where your counterplay is coming from. Masters can make use of this system but club players tend to drift. In other formations you know what sort of plans are usually going to be available (French: attack on d4; Sicilian: attack on e4/down the c-file). Our play in the Hedgehog is more hopeful than well-founded; curling up and hoping may delay the end but cannot affect the result!
The second positional theme, which you can see in the games with the Hedgehog and other openings, was share of centre: you need to grab some of it it (easiest: see the games by Hunshank and Matthew) or plan to disrupt it (Bruce, Sean) or have a go at it later (harder: see Dave's treatment of the Modern).
The other problems we had were tactical: one over-cautious and one over-optimistic. Two problems with the same cure: analyse and live in knowledge, rather than guess and live in hope.
I think there were one or two Gary Lane sacrifices which were played more from inspiration than calculation (Hunshank, Robin). Our response was to decline - on principle? This is declining from fear, not knowledge. Analyse and find out if there is a win for your opponent, don't panic and refuse material that you could have for free. You may get it wrong if you analyse, but you may guess wrong if you try to make some overall judgement. You can see some grown-up decisions in the games by Dan and Chris.
The other problem was just the opposite: letting Gary get off a snap attack (Alan (not given below) and Dave). We seemed to hope that we would be OK, but were proved wrong. This may be poor positional judgement, but in fact analysing a couple of moves deeper may have revealed what sort of trouble we were getting into. Again, this is playing in hope, not knowledge.
Player Grade Result Moves Theory W Castled B Rowston, B 89 1-0 17 3B 10 15 Coates, AE 106 1-0 18+ 5W 11 12 Bazley, RJ 110 1-0 29 2B 7 17 Cubbon, R ug 1-0 32 3B/4W 5 18 Czerniawski, E ug 1-0 33 3B 6 - Ehtesham, YAH 84 1-0 38 6B 10 20 Hill, D 160 1-0 38 8B/10B 14 17 Regis, D 168 1-0 41 9W/9B 8 6 Pope, S 156 1/2-1/2 40 5W 6 6 Leigh, M 152 0-1 33 7W 7 15 Homer, S 129 ha! 160 0-1 29 3W 6 6 Bellers, C 162 0-1 25 5W?? 9 -
There is no reason to avoid playing into healthy theory with ...d5, which also insists on a share of the centre. In this game Black hits back straightaway with ...c5, but in other games the challengers were more generous with the centre.
4.Bd3 c5! 5.dxc5 b6?! [5...Na6 6. Be3 Qa5] 6.cxb6 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Qxb6 8.Nf3 Bb7 9.Qe2 d6 10.0-0 Nbd7 11.Be3 Qa5 12.Bd2 Nc5 13.e5 Bxf3 14.Qxf3 Nd5 15.exd6 0-0 16.Rfd1
16...Nxc3 17.Bxc3 1-0
...that's fatal. This three-mover is a characteristic type of error: after the forced sequence which I want to make, can my opponent then spring a trap? This three-mover is also the sort of thing that I expect we would all come up with in answer to: why can't Black take the Pc3?
We all make mistakes in calculation (in consecutive rounds of the U170 Paignton congress this year my opponents missed mates in one, and I missed a disrupting check at the start of a combination one round later!).
It is plain that better players make fewer errors. This is partly experience (better players often play more, or played a lot more as juniors) but there are some habits we could all adopt. Kotov's recommends "Blumenfeld's rule" - before you play a move, write it down, and have another, fresh, look - "through the eyes of a patzer" - what have I missed?
8.Bd3 Bg4 9.c3 e6 10.h3 Bh5 11.0-0 Be7 12.Re1 0-0 13.Bf4 Qd5 14.g4 Bg6 15.Bf1 h5 16.Ne5 hxg4 17.hxg4 Bh7 18.Bg2 ... more? 1-0
8...b6 score says ...P-QB3 [8...Nd7] 9.a4 Bd7 10.h3 a5 11.Bf4 Qc7 12.d5 Bxc3 13.Qxc3 e5 14.Nxe5 Rh7 15.Nxd7 Nxd7 16.Rad1 c5 17.Bb5 0-0-0 18.Qg3 Nf6 19.Qf3 Nh5 20.Bh2
Same problem: Black cannot curl up and hope, he needs space and counterplay.
21.e5 dxe5 22.d6 Qb7 23.Bc6 Qa6 24.Bxe5 Kb8 25.d7+ Ka7 26.Bc7 Ne7 27.Bxd8 Nxc6 28.Qxc6 Qb7 29.Bxb6+ 1-0
I don't know who was avoiding what here; 3...Nge7 (Cozio Defence) is (just) known to theory but 4. Nc3 is not considered a testing reply. However, in response to an unknown variation a solid response is most practical.
4...d6 5.0-0 a6 6.Ba4 Bg4 7.h3 Bd7 8.Re1
In his Art of Attack, Vukovic blames late castling for most of the slaughter that goes on at simuls. That's not really true for most of this simul., but Black here is a bit too shy of it. The opposite fault is also seen ("castling into it"), but usually you can and should castle as soon as possible - not just to protect the King, but also to connect the Rooks, so you can contest open files.
14.Nxf6+ gxf6 15.Qh5 Ne5 16.Bxh6 Bxf5 17.exf5 Qd7
I can see a check on f7 coming, I can see Black in trouble, but I can't see the mate. Accepting had to be tried in the absence of a forced win, because declining is a forced loss. Also, a sacrifice to get at the King is a Frying Pan where both sides feel the heat, but giving up material is a Fire where only Black burns.
[18...fxe5 19.Qxf7+ (19.Bxf7+ Kd8 20.Be6 Qb5 21.Bb3 Qe8 22.Qxe8+ Kxe8; 19.Be6 Qc6 20.Qxf7+ Kd8 21.Bg5 Qe8 22.Qf6) 19...Kd8 20.Qg7 Re8 21.Bf7 Nxf5 22.Qg5+]
19.Qxf7 Melodramatic; retreating the Rook was OK too. 19...fxe5 Mistimed! 20.Be6 Rxh6 21.Bxd7+ Kxd7 22.f6 Re8 23.fxe7 Rxe7 24.Qf5+ Rhe6 25.Re1 c6 26.Re3 Kc7 27.Rg3 b5 28.Rg6 Rxg6 29.Qxg6 a5 30.h4 e4 31.h5 e3 32.fxe3 Rxe3 1-0
Again, I think the hedgehog approach is giving White just what he wants.
4.Nf3 h6 5.Be2 a6 6.0-0 Be7 7.Be3 Bd7 8.h3 b5 9.a3 Bc6 10.d5 exd5 11.exd5 Bd7 12.Nd4 Qc8 13.Bf3 g5 14.Be2
Brave but misguided: White is better developed and should be able to shrug off the attack.
15.gxh3 Qxh3 16.Bf3! g4 [16...Nbd7 17.Bg2 Qh4 18.Nf3 Qh5 19.Qd4+-] 17.Bg2 Qh4
18.Nf5 Qh5 19.Ng7+ Kd8 20.Nxh5 Nxh5 21.Qxg4 Nf6 22.Qf5 Nbd7 23.Bd4 Rg8 24.Rfe1 Rg5 25.Qf3 Rb8 26.Ne4 Rg6 27.Nxf6 Bxf6 28.Qe4 Ne5 29.Kf1 Kc8 30.f4 Nc4 31.Qe8+ Kb7 32.Qc6+ Kc8 33.Bh3+ 1-0
16...Bd5 [16...Bb5!? 17. Nxb7 Qd5! and I think Black is better] 17.Rc2 b6 18.Nd3 Be7 19.Nf4 Be4 20.Rc1 0-0 21.a3 Bxf3 22.Qxf3 Nxd4
Black breathes a sigh of relief! And soon picks up another one...
23.Qe4 Nf5 24.Rfd1 Qe8 25.Rc7 Rd8 26.Rdc1 Qa4 27.h3 Qxa3 28.Nh5 Nxe3 29.fxe3 Bxb4
Was this bluff, miscalculation, inspiration, or necessity? White's pieces are good-looking but the Black Pawns will win the game, given time.
The first ? is for declining. Don't take his word for it! If you can't see a mate, make him show you! But the ! is for a move with a good point - disconnecting the Rooks and hitting the e-Pawn. Yet, the Knight can hop out with a threat to come to f6, and with a Rook on the seventh, White suddenly has a winning attack.
[30...Kxg7 31.Qg4+ Kh8 32.Qg5 Be7! [32...Bc5!?] 33.Rxe7 Qxc1+ 34.Kh2 Qf1] 31.R1xc5 bxc5 32.Nh5 Qa1+ 33.Kh2 f5 34.exf6 Rf7 35.Qg4+ Kf8 36.Rxf7+ Kxf7 37.Qg7+ Ke8 38.Qe7# 1-0
You can see from the game and the overall statistics that Hunshank played out of his skin - our visitor may have felt lucky to get away with this.
I'm no expert in this line but the exchanges seem to have helped White.
10...Qc7 11.Bd3 Nc5 12.Bc2 Bd7 13.Nf3 Ne4 14.0-0 f5
15.exf6 Nxf6 16.Ne5 Bd6 17.Qf3 0-0 18.Rae1 Bc5 19.Bb1 Bxd4+ 20.cxd4 Bb5 21.Rf2 Qb6 22.Rd2 Rac8 23.h3 Rc7 24.Kh2 Qa5 25.Rdd1 Qb4 26.Qf2
26...g5! 27.Qg3 [27.Nf3 g4 28.Nh4=+] 27...Qxb2 28.fxg5 [28.Qxg5+ Kh8 opens the g-file for Black] 28...Nh5 29.Qg4 Nf4 30.Nf3 Be2 winning the exchange
...more moves were played; Black is winning but eventually lost. Towards the end, the few survivors get put under increasing pressure!
31.Rd2 Qxd2 32.Nxd2 Bxg4 33.hxg4 Rc3 34.Nb3 b6 35.Nd2 Nd3? 36.Re3 oops 36...Rf2 37.Nf3 Nf4 38.Rxc3 Rxg2+ 1-0
6.Nge2 0-0 7.h3 Nbd7 8.0-0 e5 9.Be3 exd4 10.Bxd4 c5
11.Be3 Ne5 [threat ...Bxh3] 12.f4 Nc4 13.Bc1 Be6 14.b3 Nb6 15.Be3 Qe7 16.a4 Rad8 17.a5 Nc8
Black shouldn't have sat still for this, or should have tried ...Nb4.
18.Qd2 Rfe8 19.g4 d5
20.e5 Nxg4 21.hxg4 d4 22.Nxd4 cxd4 23.Bxd4 Bxg4 24.Nd5 Qd7 25.Qf2 Bh3
26.c4 Bxg2 27.Qxg2 Qf5 28.Rad1 h5 29.Ne3 Qe6 30.Qxb7 f6
Again, Black must try this. He eventually gets his pieces out but has shed a lot of Pawns by then. Nonetheless, this is a much better approach than curling up and hoping.
31.exf6 Bxf6 32.Bxf6 Qxf6 33.Qf3 Rxd1 34.Rxd1 Qc3 35.Qd5+ Kg7
36.Ng2 Re2 37.f5 Qc2 38.Rf1 gxf5 (38...Ne7) 39.Rxf5 Ne7 40.Qd4+ Kh6 41.Qh8+ 1-0
Belt that centre!
8.dxc5 Na6 9.Bc4 Be6 10.Qe2 Nxc5 11.Rd1 Nf4 12.Qc2 Qc7 13.Bxe6 Ncxe6
14.Be3 Rfd8 15.Na3 a6 16.Rxd8+ Rxd8 17.Rd1 Nd5 18.Bc1 b5
A minority attack based more on opportunism than exploitation of a file; the Rooks in fact soon come off the board.
19.h3 b4 20.cxb4 Nxb4 21.Rxd8+ Qxd8 22.Qb3 Nd3 23.Qc2 Nec5 24.Nc4 Nb4
25.Qe2 Nxa2 26.Bg5 Ne6 27.Be3 Nb4 28.Ne1 Qd5 29.Kf1 Bd4 30.b3 Qe4 31.Qd2 Nc6 32.Nc2 Bxe3 33.N4xe3 Ne5 34.Qa5 Qd3+ 35.Kg1 Qb5 36.Qa3 Nc6 37.b4 Ncd4 38.Qb2 Nxc2 39.Nxc2 Qe2 40.Qc3
You can't blame GL for offering the draw, or Sean for accepting it, but don't do this in a match, will you?
12.Bd2 Nge7 13.a3 Bxc3 14.Bxc3 Nf5 15.Bd3 0-0 16.Qe2 h6 17.Rac1 Ncd4 18.Nxd4 Nxd4 19.Qg4 Nf5 20.Bb4 Rf7
21.Qg6 Rxc1 22.Rxc1 Qd4 23.Bb1 Qxe5 24.g4 Rf6 25.Qh5 Qxb2 26.Rf1 Ne3 27.fxe3 Rxf1+ 28.Kxf1 Bb5+ 29.Kg1 Qxb1+ 30.Kf2 Qf1+ 31.Kg3 Be2
32.Qe5 [32.Qe8+ Kh7 33.Qxe6 Qf3+ 34.Kh4 g5+ 35.Kh5 Qh3#] 32...Qf3+ 33.Kh4 Qxg4# 0-1
9.Re1 d6 10.Kh1 Nc6 11.Be3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 e5
In all these later games White is not allowed to dominate the centre. White tries again to occupy space with f2-f4, but it is snapped off, giving a situation where both central pawns are isolated.
13.Be3 Rc8 14.f4 exf4 15.Bxf4 Rc5 16.Be3 Re5 17.Bd4 Rg5 18.Qf3 Ng4 19.Qe2 Bf6 20.Bg1 Be5 21.h3 Nf6 22.Be3 Nh5
23.Kg1 Nf4 [23...Bf4] 24.Qf3 Rxg2+ 25.Kf1 Nxd3 26.Qxg2 Nxe1 27.Kxe1 f5 28.Kd2 f4
5.Bc4? cxd4 6.Nxd4 Qc5 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Be3 Qa5 9.0-0 Nf6 10.f4 d6 11.Nb3 Qh5 12.Qd3 Ng4 13.h3 Nxe3 14.Qxe3 Nc6 15.Rae1 Bxc3 16.Qxc3 Be6 17.f5 gxf5 18.exf5 Bd5 19.Qd3 Nb4 20.Qb5 Rhg8 21.Rf2 Qxh3 22.Ree2 Rg5 23.Qd7 Nc6 24.c4 Ne5
[25...Bxg2 26.Rxg2 Nf3+ 27.Kf1 Qh1+ 28.Kf2 Rxg2+
A) 29.Kxf3 Qh3+ A1) 30.Kf4 Rg4#; A2) 30.Ke4 Rg4+ 31.Kd5 Qf3+ 32.Re4 Qxe4#;
B) 29.Ke3 Qg1+ 30.Kxf3 Qf1+ 31.Ke3 Rxe2+]
A classy combinational finish, some of which Chris saw at the time! The Bishop sac. is more or less forced anyhow, so that wasn't the hard bit.
firstly, Alexander's observation that blunders only occur in losing positions (not always, but more than a grain of truth), and
secondly, that there are other things about their games which could be improved by greater understanding, even while blunders may appear.
In the opening, development is often started well and general rules are followed (e.g. move each piece once) but is at times too straightforward and is not always complete. After this the game may appear episodic, with not all the pieces being used to effect. In the endgame there may be some caution about using the King and theory is often not properly understood, but can win and advance pawns properly.
Chess Openings for Juniors & Attacking the King - John Walker
Logical Chess - Irving Chernev
Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge - Averbach
Winning Endgames - Tony Kosten
Winning Chess - Chernev/Reinfeld
Think/Play like a Grandmaster - Kotov
Rate Your Endgame - Mednis/Crouch
Test Your Chess IQ (Book 1) - Livshitz
The Middle Game (I/II) - Euwe & Kramer
Simple Chess - Michael Stean
There are standard plans and "clockwork" attacks which the Major player understands and plays well. Where a solid formation is adopted there is usually also a view to some flexibility and keeping the pieces at least potentially active. They will seek counterplay and know how to limit the play of their opponents. They usually notice all the relevant featires of the position even if they choose the wrong move/plan.
Practical Chess Endings - Keres
Batsford Chess Endings - Speelman et al.
Secrets of Grandmaster Play - Nunn/Griffiths
Reading as for intermediate players too.
They are beginning to master the art of analysis, being able to sustain assessment of a main line with variations throughout a tactical game, and in complex positions can isolate a theme and crystallise it. They defend much better than weaker players and swindle well.
In the endgame they do know a bit of theory, and can calculate well enough to improvise a strategy for unknown positions. How often I have embarked optimistically on a slightly worse endgame against county-strength players, only to be ground down without mercy. I often feel, as was once said about Alekhin, there are three games to be played at this level before you can secure the whole or half- point: once in the opening, middle and endgame.
Obviously there are still things that separate the lower from the higher (approaching 200) boards of county teams: things like judging positions on their merits rather than by analogy, and the coordination of their pieces. And of course, all the common threads (spotting tactics, depth of analysis, thinking for the opponent as well as oneself, knowledge of theory of opening and endgame) can all be expected to be stronger in the better player.
1. All chessplayers make mistakes all the time. Moreover, you cannot extract a win from a position by effort alone, or the application of only your genius, your opponent must make a mistake.
2. There are some mistakes that everybody makes. These probably include misjudging (or simply failing to spot) combinations and other opportunities, attacking without justification, inadequate technique, and thinking only for yourself.
So, mistakes are inevitable, but to be worked on - for example, try to eliminate one-move mistakes, then two-movers, and so on. I'm sure becoming more efficient or more consistent would for most of us result in a rise in grade without any great new insights being gained.
The Amateur's Mind, Jeremy Silman
The Improving Annotator, Dan Heisman
Thinkers' Chess, Stephan Gerzadowicz (Correspondence games)
Magazines: Rabbits Review, Chess Circuit