Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Chess Is A Game Of Mistakes"

That's the most profound single-sentence description of the game I know. A kindly chess player said that to me years ago, a guy who ran a chess club, ran it well, and was close to an unpaid coach to several of us club members. You win by spotting a mistake on your opponents' part, and exploiting it. Or you make the mistake of not spotting that mistake, and your opponent is able to recover. I played White in the following game today, and won against an opponent rated significantly higher.

1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘c6 3. ♗b5 ♘f6 4. O-O ♗e7 5. a3 a6 6. ♗a4 b5 7. ♗b3 ♘d4 8. ♘xd4 exd4 9. ♕f3 ♗b7 10. d3 c5 11. ♗d5 ♘xd5 12. exd5 O-O 13. ♘d2 ♗g5 14. ♘b3 d6 15. ♗xg5 ♕xg5 16. ♕g3 ♕xd5 17. ♘d2 f5 18. ♕f3 ♕f7 19. ♕f4 ♕g6 20. g3 ♕h5 21. f3 g5 22. ♕xd6 ♖fe8 23. ♕xc5 ♖e2 24. ♖f2 ♖ae8 25. ♕xf5 ♖xf2 26. ♔xf2 ♖f8 27. ♕e6 ♖f7 28. ♕e8 ♖f8 29. ♕xh5 1-0 {Black resigns}

After 26.♔xf2 I was in very bad shape, and seriously considering retiring. But "chess is a game of mistakes" is a very useful mantra running through my head as I play, and I decided to hang in and see if I would get lucky by means of a mistake on my opponent's part. At first 26. ...♖f8 seemed very strong to me, but then I saw that I had an opportunity to put Black in check. So, why not. Keep the game going, keep looking for a way to turn the tables. 27.♕e6, check. 27. ...♖f7 28. ♕e8, check again, and I saw that if Black blocked my Queen with his Rook at f8, I could take his Queen at h5. He didn't see it, he lost his Queen and resigned.

Grandmasters often resign positions much more ambiguous even than what I was facing after 26.♔xf2. In fact, often enough when I look at Grandmaster games I have no idea why they resign, or even why someone annotating the game, presumably for an audience much wider than just the Grandmasters of the world, has put in half of those !'s and ?'s, even with the help of alternate lines provided by way of explanation. I'm not playing anywhere near Grandmaster chess, and hanging in in lopsided positions makes more sense.

I think 26. ...Qxh2, check, would have been better for Black. Maybe not. As always, I apologize if I've given brain nausea to any stronger players reading along.

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