Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Chess Log: On Not Wanting To Analyze Games I've Lost. Plus An Analysis Of A Game I Lost

All of the chess games I've written about on this blog have been games I've won, I think. I may have included a long game or two which I narrowly lost, but I doubt it.

I have noticed, in publications such as Chess Informant, that of the games commented upon by one of the players, the winners provide the commentaries much more often than the loser and much more often than either player in the case of ties. I have also noticed that World Champions comment on their losses much more often than other Grandmasters do.

And I've wondered whether this reflects one of the reasons they have been World Champions, one of the things which has singled them out from the herd of Grandmasters, all of whom probably could checkmate me 10 games out of 10 in 20 moves or less: chess is a game of mistakes. Doesn't is stand to reason that people who face their mistakes and carefully analyze what went wrong are less likely to repeat those mistakes than those who angrily turn away from their lost games and gloat over their wins instead?

Someone just handed my ass to me twice and I'm upset about it. I'll take a look at one of those games here. Can't guarantee I'll have any useful insights, because -- I'm upset and I don't want to do this.

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 ♕xd5 3. ♘c3 ♕e6 4. ♕e2 ♕xe2 5. ♗xe2 ♘c6 6. ♘f3 f6 7. O-O e5 8. d3 h5 9. h3 g5 10. ♘h2 g4 11. h4 ♗c5 12. ♘e4 ♗b6 13. ♗e3 f5 14. ♗xb6 axb6 15. ♘g5 ♘f6 16. ♖fe1 f4 17. d4 e4 18. f3 g3 19. ♘f1 e3 20. ♗b5 ♗f5 21. ♘h3 ♖a5 22. a4 ♗xh3 23. gxh3 ♔e7 24. c3 ♘d5 25. ♘d2 ♔f6 26. ♘e4 ♔f5 27. c4 ♘db4 28. ♖e2 ♘xd4 29. ♖g2 ♘xf3 30. ♔f1 ♔xe4 31. c5 bxc5 32. ♖d1 c6 33. ♗d3 ♘xd3 34. ♖c2 ♘h2 35. ♔g2 ♖g8 36. ♖c4 ♔d5 37. b3 f3 38. ♔g1 f2 39. ♔g2 f1=Q 40. ♖xf1 ♘xf1 41. ♔xf1 ♖f8 42. ♔e2 ♘e5 0-1 {White forfeits on time}

I played White. I noticed that Black was rated about 130 points higher than I, and I was thinking that I might gain some big points after 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 ♕xd5 3. ♘c3 ♕e6+, an opening I've seen quite a few times as White and which usually turns out well for me as I am able to develop faster than Black. But in this game, by 9. [...]g5 at the latest, I was already badly constricted by Black's pawn attack. It took me until my 15th move to get a Rook to e1, and I was never even close to checking Black's King with that Rook.

During the game it always seemed -- well, until the 30th move or so -- that I was just a move or two away from mounting a strong attack. But I never did. I wonder whether Black intentionally dangled what looked to me like openings: the diagonal from h5 to his King with 6. [...] f6, for example, or the diagonal from the other side with 19. [...] e3, in order to get me to overextend myself with attacks which weren't quite put together. I wonder whether Black was that far into my head, or if I was merely obliging him by played surprisingly badly.

By 29. [...] ♘xf3+ it was pretty much over, or maybe earlier than that, and it took me that long to become thoroughly discouraged.

We all already knew I was never going to be a Grandmaster. I can't guarantee that I'll do much analysis of my losses. It's really aggravating, just as brutal losses themselves are painful while they're happening. I don't claim to have analyzed this loss at all thoroughly. The next time I see 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 ♕xd5 3. ♘c3 ♕e6 I'll be more aware of developing my King-side pawns. I don't know how much of a difference that would've made in this game. It could hardly have made things worse.

PS, 21. October 2015: Recently I saw Guy Ritchie's film Revolver for the first time, and since then I've seen it a bunch more times. Among other other things, it deals with the involvement of the ego in the game of chess -- the interference of the ego with good play. Several times it's repeated that one must play stronger opponents in order to improve. (Also, the film has a bunch of Kabbalah symbolism. Did Guy get into Kabbalah because Madonna was into it? Or maybe vice-versa?) (It's also the only action-adventure crime drama I know which ends with talking-head appearances by several psychiatrists portraying themselves.)

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