Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Power of a Better Chess Position

LCCC was back in full swing this Monday. Round Two of our Action Tournament was completed. The Round 3 pairing will be posted as soon as they are available.

Round 3 will be in two weeks (February 6) and we will have Open Chess next week (January 30).

Now for an article written by GM Gabriel Schwartzman in 2003 for Chess Life:

Having a better position is a very exciting feeling. Of course, sometimes you feel too good, forget to pay attention and end up losing the advantage or ......sometimes the game.

Is there a psychological explanation for this phenomenon? Obviously! In chess, the better player is suppose to win. But being the 'best' player in a particular game is the one expending the most energy and concentration.

Unfortunately, once you gain the upper hand, both of these components tend to suffer. The will to continue working has a tendency to slack off grows as you get closer to 'quitting time.' You just don't work as hard with the lead as you do when you are fighting for your life. [Example: How is your work energy level a day or two before you leave for a vacation?]

The other phenomenon is often found in the desire to get things over with. This is especially true in a game where you have been dominating for quite a while. You start asking yourself, "Why haven't they resigned already," instead of concentrating on a way to actually finish the game.

It is important that you do not become obsessed with the quest to wrap things up and in process sacrifice some of your advantage. Here is an example of this:

Yates - Tartakover - 1927 Black to move
[And it happens to the best of chess players. Savielly Tartakover was one of the leading chess players in the 1920's thru the 1940's.]

Of course Black is better. All he has to do is not rush and bring the game to a conclusion. But Tartakover was a bit frustrated and decides to end the game with a bang!

1. .......      Qxb4?

Black gives up his queen. Why? Because in the process he also gains a pawn and a pawn in the endgame can be enough for victory. This is something Black felt was a sure thing after the next few moves. So.....

2. axb4        axb3
3. Kb2         Kc4
4. Ka3         ..........

 None of this came as a surprise for Black. He saw this position, noticed that the only good move with the King was Kc3, which brings about a stalemate. But,

4. ........          b2

White to move

is also available. This was the position Black envisioned and was quite happy with it. Tartakover knew that after 5. Kxb2, Kxb4 is a theoretical win. So this is the perfect way to end a long struggle.

What Tartakover forgot to take into account was what other choices were available to White.

Instead of taking the pawn b2, Mr. Yates just happens to have one other legal move. And it just so happens to be the perfect one!

5. Ka2!         .............

Why in the world would White elect this move instead of taking the pawn? Simple, it's all about tempos. As I said, it is a theoretical win for Black. But that only holds if it is White's move! If it is Black's move - it's a draw! [Oh the magic of chess! This stuff is why we play this game!].

So, what Ka2 does is pass the move back to Black.

5. .......          Kxb4
6. Kxb2

5. .........       b1 = Q+
6. Kxb1       Kxb4
7. Kb2         ...........

5. ........        Kc3
6. Kb1         Kxb4
7. Kxb2

or any other order of moves in which White will not grab the pawn until Black grabs his, the position on the board arises, with ......Black to move. Which is exactly what happened and how a completely winning position became a draw.

So please think about this when you are trying to convert a winning position into a win.

No comments:

Post a Comment