A REAL analysis position

This game was between two local players. White is 1905 and Black is 1958. Despite Black taking a lot of time, Black found no defense. How would you defend Black’s position starting with move 23?


Answer will be given as the first comment below. I spent nearly an hour figuring out whether Black was winning, losing or merely equal. Try to find a line.


13 thoughts on “A REAL analysis position

  1. Defense #1

    Defense #2

    These are the two continuations which Fruit found. A strange and remarkable difference between an engine and a human here. The engine knew before White even lost the piece that White would have an advantage after giving up the piece, with no hesitation. Yes, after spending a while you can see what a terrible positional position that Black has with that ..Nf8, which is almost worse than useless in some sense, and the bishop isn’t far behind.

    I found a hybrid line, I guess you could see. I found line#2, but noted that if Black does not capture the Nc4 and win that pawn, but rather doubles on the e-file with Re7, then Black should play ..b5 and ..Rb8, then ..bxc and now Black’s rook finally has some life along the b-file.

    Crazy endgame, but I think this is where the Masters earn their rating points, in these sorts of situations. 😉

    I consider this to be a big difference between 1900 level and Expert. The 1900 player can attack like a rabid wolf, but defense, oh please no, this is women’s work!

    The funny thing about this position is that most of us would say “Wow! Look at White win a whole piece down like that, he’s a real bonafide genius!” But if you look at it for a short while, the mate is relatively easy to spot, but it’s the defense which requires the real chess skill, not solving the little White to mate puzzle. Of course any bonehead would search for mate as White, he’s a piece down for crying out loud. You think he planned this sh*&? lol.

    Actually, in the game, White spent the first 5 minutes deciding whether or not to resign, but then spotted this mate.

    I can’t believe this, I just finally went over a game where this 2100 player (that bead me badly in the last round about a year ago) lost to an 1800 player. I wanted to know how this was possible. Easy answer! The Expert made no less than 8 major defensive gaffes, and missed only one optimal attacking move. This guy just couldn’t defend unless it was in an attacking way.

    Twice he allowed the QxN QxN, N+ forking king and queen picking up free knight. He missed this on two consecutive moves, they both did! On the second move he simply moved the queen to a different defensive square, but the QxN was still on, doh! I truly cannot believe this horsepucky. Yes, I knew it, but it’s still surprising. People cannot defend as well as they attack. Jason basically defended well, that’s how he won, nothing earth-shattering other than that.

    There are a lot of shooting star 1800 players that got their overnight based on attacking skills and all kinds of “cheater” attacking moves that should be refuted. But on defense, they psychologically fall apart.

    This is why I think RollingPawns has so much success against higher-rateds, he knows how to defend, is able to, and generally doesn’t mind doing it enough to not do it.

    I thought that was bad, I think this one is even more of a crime against humanity. Two Experts, one from last game, one from the game in the post that lost. Sicilian defense, g3, one guy pushes ..e6-d5 (a mistake) and drops the d5 pawn. It’s soon close to +2 for White. White loses pawn back, real obvious blunder (Kc5 instead of Kc3). Game now goes back and forth it is a draw, but this game must have been thrown away by either player at least 10 times. Scores like +7, -8, you get the idea. “Passed pawns must be pushed!”, it’s unreal how many times this did not happen by either side. I’m in disbelief. No wonder there are such things as GM games. Common-sense is not common folks, and if you thought common-sense should apply to one area of the game, shouldn’t it be the end game? Nope! Apparently not.

    I guess I should feel comforted going through these games. All Kurt 1900 has to do is take a knight with pawn and instead goes for mate for one move, next move is attacking on other side of board into other guys attack, finally takes the piece once he is looking busted. Obviously they go out of their way not to bring their “B” game when they are against playing me. My dumb bishop sac against Isaac, two games I’ve done that playing him, and now I see another 1900 player who will do that with lower-rated players – at least he knows how to be selective about it.

  2. Hey Linux Guy!

    I didn’t see the mate at all! After Black plays ..Rxe1, I saw the White rook penetrating to the 7th rank but was wanting to try ideas like …Be7 to prevent it.

    I never even looked at …Re4!

    I am a horrible calculator.

    Maybe I need a new hobby.

  3. TommyG, hi! 🙂

    At least you tried it!

    It’s not an easy problem at all. …Bd7 is correct, you got that part right, that took a long time to decide on, too! I looked at Nd7-Nb6, all kinds of junk like that that doesn’t work. Nf8 protects Bd7 which keeps rooks from harming the back rank, that is one of the main key ideas of this position.

    The other key ideas is the exchange sac, and then I was amazed at how many forks the knight is threatening from the f5 square. Fruit chose Kh2, which is the quickest way of stopping some forks (Kg1 may still expose to fork of king and bishop later, I think). So the knight posting onto d4 stops the Rg7+ tactics, and Black’s rook can still get out via the b-file opening up, or trade itself on the e-file, should White undouble.

    What intrigued me to this was not just the story behind this – White published it in a local informant, titled it ‘Bolt out of the blue’ – but the fact that this seemed to be about the worst positional play position by Black that one could dream up, and is there a way to save it. Of course, I was distracted for the longest time for a win for Black before realizing that it’s Black that needs to try and save it!

    I think this is the ideal sort of exercise. It’s defense that people fail miserably at, even at 6hr. time-controls. The mate was quite beautiful, and I’m sure quite a few would have resigned, but one only has to spot a mate, which is simpler than defense. White saw that a rook trade would gain him the 7th rank, and White should win in those scenarios, even if Black gives back a piece, because Black will still be stuck for moves, and even White’s king can get into the game (probably infiltrating the kingside), but Black will have king, knight and bishop still stuck for a while until some more queenside pawns can get cleared out for the rook. 😉

  4. I think I need to do some calculation practice and lay off brute force tactics training for a bit.

    I have noticed that I sometimes become a lazy calculator when I am doing to many tactics. Sounds weird doesn’t it?

    I am going to finish the current tactics course I am doing and then I am going to focus on one or two positions a day from the Anthology of Chess Combinations. I will set them up on the board and spend however long it takes.

    The thing I know but don’t always implement is that tactics are not skill.

    Calculating is the skill.

    Tactics are the building blocks that help inform the skill.

    As a music analogy I would say tactics are scales that build technique.

    Calculating is the use of that technique to either learn a piece of music or improvise a jazz setting.

    To do either in music one must practice the skill after acquiring the technique.

    I gotta practice the SKILL of calculating!!

  5. It’s an amazing example how a positional advantage could be worth more than a material. I didn’t see Re4, found 24… Nd7 in order to free f8 square for the king, but it loses anyway. Thanks for mentioning my name.:)

  6. RollingPawns, glad that you checked it out and liked it. 🙂

    Fruit didn’t like his ..Nf8, and who would let their bishop get this bad, but he’s 1960 rated player, Black is. Which tells me my that my main issue is whatever my main issue is, not my opponents’ rating so much. Most players are probably like this, it’s their own issues which hold them back.

    Calculating ability got me to 1800, although even then tactics helped some, and endgame ability. Now that I look at tactics, it’s like TommyG says, I can incorporate them into my calculations. Calculation improves over time with tournament play.

    Regarding calculation, I always tell my friend Alex to look ahead many moves in boring positions, because that is what the pros do and how they can gain an advantage late. When I get lazy and stop doing this, like in that last tournament, that is when the blunders happen. There are NO boring positions in chess (of course there are boring positions, but don’t ever tell yourself this at the board, everything is winning for one side or other other at all times! 😀 ), because boring = yawn, and yawn (bezod?) is blunder in Russian) If you are looking 5 moves deep in an obvious position, you probably aren’t blundering. 😉

    For me, the main thing is finding as many ideas as possible in a position, and then stitching them together. Sometimes it’s not easy to look for the right ideas until you’ve gained a correct evaluation of the position, like a computer’s evaluation (score) with example line. Once I saw that giving up a the NxNf7 after ..h6 still wouldn’t hold well for Black (h7 has to be guarded and White still controls those ranks along the e-file), that allowed me to evaluate that White was better and then I could look for Black’s best save.

    1) Bd7 with Nf8 defends the 7th rank.
    2) b-file can be opened for the rook
    3) Exchange sac opens up f5 for the Nh6, which then has fork threats from f5, so that g4 will take at least a tempo to prepare.
    4) Nf5-d4 cuts off the bishop for a pawn and will give Black another two tempos.
    5) Looking ahead further, which I hadn’t done, that g4 gave Black something to do with the h-pawn, namely an ..h5 counterattack (hitting g4 pawn), and now Black is no longer left with defensive duties for the h7 pawn.

    TommyG, yes, I know what you are saying, studying tactics made me worse tactically at first because the first thing it makes one feel is cocky, and then “I dare you, go ahead and try to find tactic in my position!”, and of course their is one inevitably, if we don’t look for and sidestep them at each turn. Kind of like a lawyer when the first thing they want to do is a bunch of stuff that the average John Q. Citizen wouldn’t try to to, because they are lawyers and they think they know the law. My last opponent is known for his tactical skill, but instead of sacking a pawn and castling queenside, he dared me to find the combo.

    So what I am saying is “Don’t stop studying tactics!” (unless maybe you’ve finished your 1,000 or so problems).

    This Timman book really got me into looking at long variations. Mentally has gotten me into that habit, even if there aren’t so many long variations in my own games, but that’s mainly because me and my opponents are only around 1800 or lower, usually.

    Here’s another curve-ball, what if White plays g4 a move earlier? as in 23..Re4, 24.NxR fxR, g4?

    At first, I didn’t know. Then I think well Black now has time to play ..Nf7, Rxe h6, NxN KxN, Rfe1 Bd7, Re7+ so that no, Black has no time for this, and don’t want to take on g5 (NxNg5 is still bad positionally). So I think, there must be an answer, not just because the computer didn’t try this but that this exchange sac looks very “answer-ish”. Do not be afraid to follow an answer-ish plan, even if you don’t fully see how it works. Try to never, never, never spend so much time on a move, not quite see how it should work, and then play some other crap move instead. Not only can that eat away at your rating, but you’ll probably never improve your chess that way. I’ve made this mistake countless times and it has cost me probably 100 rating points.

    1800+ players, particularly 1900+ usually have a strong belief in a position at times, they will simply “know” that something must be there, particularly when closing out a decisive line. When I played my combo the other night, I realized the knight sac didn’t work in the obvious way, but it looked very “answerish” to the position and I wasn’t going to let it go just because the solution wasn’t simple. I suspected that it did work in some way before I even saw the right line. That’s what lead me to look for that line, “the sac must be winning” belief.

    Oh, to finish, I think if g4 a tempo early, then maybe ..Nf5 anyway! gxN gxN, and now Black has two pawns for the exchange, plus an open ..Ng6 square for that previously bad ..Nf8, from where it also defends the e7 square now from rook invasion. I could check it out with Fruit and see what it says.

    BTW, a simple trick to keep in mind when calculating is to always calculate the most forcing moves. It doesn’t help to calculate a nice variation for yourself if your opponent has more forcing threats such as a one move attacking refutation by threating your king, for example. In my last game I thought about ..Qd7 (nice var.) instead of ..Be7, but then realized I can’t allow ..Nf6+ forking queen and Rf8.

    Nope, I was wrong, my defensive plan loses, but not because of material considerations. The Ng6 is pried away by h4, h5, and even though the knight can reach f3 protected post, and even to d4 to stop the bishop, the rooks double on the g-file and mate in conjunction with the passed h-pawn.

    BUT, If I play gxN Bxf5!, Black has created this fortress where Black’s knight should make itself felt. It’s nearly equal here. -.3

    HOWEVER, this is still not Fruit’s choice for this position. Fruit prefers g4 Bf5, and if gxB NxB, Kg2 (Rxe would fork with ..Nxg3+) Re8, Re2 Nf8-d7 (finally), Rf1e1 d3 -.15 for Black.

    WE ARE STILL NOT DONE with this plan. hehe. Why can’t White stoop to pick up the pawn on d3 with bishop? First, White would need to play a4, else ..b5 and ..bxc, bxc Nb6 and Black can lop off the hanging, backward c4 pawn. So, a4 Kf7, Bb2 Nd7-f6 (the once sickly knight grows healthier by the move!), Bc1 Nf6-e4 (he’s coming for ya!), Bxe3 Nf5-h4+! and now White’s king has 4 legal moves Kf1, Kg2, Kh1, and Kh2 all of which lead to one of the knights forking the king and rook! Therefore, Fruit’s original move was not my humanesque plan on winning this e3 pawn right away, but playing Kf3 instead of a4, and I am not sure where this is going, but I’ll trust it’s -.15 evaluation (essentially equal) for now.

    The lesson here is don’t assume you need to calculate everything before you make a move. If you feel in your gut that a move is “answerish”, but you are deterred by it’s complications, don’t let that dissuade you, keep trying to figure it out as you go. Sometimes players will say, as Grishuk said of Kramnik in one instance “He is playing very principled”, which usually involves some sort of sac. In that case, Grishuk caught him, but it usually works out.

    I watched another video by Kramnik, and he does make a principled move, pawn sac, and the complications were virtually unfathomable, depends on responses, but it still became a draw with winning chances.

    Just checked it, Fruit actually sacs the exchange for the e-pawn right away after Kf3. and now it’s even material, White has the bishop but pawn islands, f and h pawns. Frankly, Black can play for a win in this position, and someone like Fischer would almost surely win it for Black, I should think! Fruit says it’s even, but computers don’t have a human’s endgame intuition, which is useful this far out in an endgame, they can only calculate. This is where the supercomputers become handy, they can play out practice games from this position in the background to build up a sense of intuition, artificially. Nope, the endgame is even and Black seems to lose if Black plays for a win.

    Basically, in the bishop vs. knight endgame, Black can’t go for a win, because White’s king can infiltrate and trade a kingside pawn, should Black push there. Then the White king cuts back to toward Black’s center. White can also push the a-pawn up the board for either zugzwanging the knight, Black’s pawns or exchanging for outside passed pawn, or simply isolated a-pawn island for both sides in which having a, h, and center pawns is simply too much for Black to cover while also going for a win.

    I just analyzed last weekend’s Round 4 game. That was the most complex one. He played into a bad position which could only be resolved tactically.

    It made me realize something when I read comments about ageism in chess, having to start young. I think the most important thing in chess (besides calculation) is tactical fantasy. Some tactics have to be setup, as that as you are putting your piece here, when you do finally sac, all of the lines are opened up and everything works. The tactical setup moves, improving pieces or pawns for it. One has to be one’s own tactical setup-man and closer. Can’t expect the opponent to be overly complicit.

    In my Round #4 game, I did not play 12..g5 or 12..Nh5. It’s weird how OTB, you could eats gobs of time pursuing a single-minded strategy such as “Go after this badly placed bishop”, when it will either lose or give up 3 pawns (mostly pawns in front of your king) to win a piece at best. I can’t believe I analyzed that wisely OTB. A major pothole Black could have fell into. I waited until I was developed and had to resolve the situation, and by then it was all winning for Black (my side). OTB, it would be too unfathomable of complications to pursue such a premature strategy as trapping that bishop.

    13..Ne4! in Round 4 was insightful, subtle, yet practically wins by force. I saw a lot of it’s subtlety and even Fruit didn’t choose it, or at least not right away it didn’t. It’s the best move on the board, no question. I’m glad that I waited for something like that to appear, since it virtually refutes White’s entire position. This game will probably be lost by the fact that it was only against a 1400 player where I had multiple wins to choose from later on. Of course, in the game I felt that White should have prevented this move with Qd3 instead of the weird Qd2, and that is what it allows it to happen. I think that RollingPawns would find this move, too, as it is a pure positional crush, where no unsafe moves are required to gain the advantage. 🙂

    There is something which I am doing very wrong, and that is not saving enough time and energy for the “resolution phase” of the game, where one side has an advantage or it has been determined to play for a draw. I should save at least 1/3 of my time and energy for this phase of the game. This game-strategy error is just as much a blunder as dropping a piece, it simply doesn’t show up as directly in the game-score. I shouldn’t be loading up for something big by this point as much as using technique and judgment to bring the game to a successful conclusion, whether for a win or draw; after all, who knows how it will go.

    For me, it’s not about getting better at calculations so much, although who wouldn’t want that? It’s about being wiser and more judicious about what to calculate and how to quickly snap away from spending time calculating a dubious strategic line. Efficiency of judgment would be a better goal for me at this time.

    I finally prepared for one of my opponents. Never done that before. I picked a point early in the game where I know he wants to try a standard idea, and then look at a few replies deeply with sub-replies, so that he will unwittingly be walking through a minefield as Black, even if it is only a += position at first. Well, now I know what that’s all about. I didn’t use a database, though. Let the GMs suffer under that level of paranoia.

    I had to go early enough into the game where he still hadn’t made a mistake, and should probably repeat previous play, then lead the game into a different sub-variation.

    Having strong technique in simple or complex positions is also a big deal ratings-point wise; Sorry if I seem to have disparaged it by ignoring it. That is something that even a Class C or D player can possess.

  7. I just won a blitz game with a nice little double piece-sac at the end. Black has to play …BxR, QxR f6, exf and if ..Qf7 then Qh8 mate, so ..Rc8 (if ..Kf7, Bh4 Rc8, Qh5+ Ke6, f7 with Qf5 mate next) f7 Kxf7, Bh4+ Kg8 (or ..Ke8, Rf8+ followed by Qe6 mate), Qh8 mate. Look ma, no computer!


    This is called getting in your sacs when they are warranted.

    700 combinations completed, not saying I didn’t get many of them wrong, I got a lot of them wrong. It’s mostly for pattern recognition.

  8. Yeah, that was a nice little double-bubble 🙂
    Your individual preparation is a long time overdue, I couldn’t understand how if you know exactly whom you will play not prepare for that. Your analysis also will be useful next time you play this variation.

  9. RollingPawns, thanks! 🙂

    In the past, I didn’t study openings and prepare for people because I didn’t want to give myself any undue advantage. I didn’t want my opponents to quit chess because I had outbooked them, so sort of guilt reasons.

    My preparation that I did the other day for Kurt was realistic, an early deviation with a sort of novelty. At first, I was going to prepare for Paul, but then realized I would be playing the first 20+ moves from a game where a Master beat him, and then I felt guilty because if I simply tried to remember the 20+ moves, even the intentional mistakes, that would be embarrassingly easy for me to do. Even Fruit couldn’t gain an advantage the way the Master did. The Master is willing to make a third-rate choice because down the road that move will allow for a lot more playability and advantage, although computers are too objective to realize this. This is where the Master is better than the engine, they can make mistakes on purpose, which maybe like +.15 for the moment, but will become insuperable when the game is taken as a whole, not just that one move. So, I purposely didn’t memorize that game, but maybe I did on accident. hehe. IOW, people may play for the initiative, but engines still don’t have this down as a concept unless it leads to a concrete advantage line. Engines will play more sterile.

    I am not even prepared for Isaac, the main-line Scotch, I simply figure it out OTB or really they mess up before they leave my knowledge base. That is very bad. I may even play the Spanish to see if he really does play the Berlin Defense, and then not even prepare for it ahead of time, but rely on outplaying OTB due to more endgame savvy.

    Yes, it’s really dumb what I have been doing. I am still on this combinations kick because I don’t want to quit it. I am done with the endgame stuff, but really my last and huge hole in preparation are the openings. Most of the books I have left to study are on openings, it’s next up on the agenda.

    Really, if I stop trying stupid sacs during games, I should be able to ignorantly win games just based on experience at G/90. It’s enough time to think things out, unlike in online games. The biggest problem with not preparing openings is that it kills me on the clock to figure out openings OTB at G/90. 😉

  10. What about your opponent playing a “pet” scheme you are not ready for, is there any undue advantage for him? If I lose I can only blame myself for that.
    Berlin Defense is difficult, you can’t play it without preparation.

  11. Good points, RollingPawns. 🙂

    Next time I play Isaac, I want to take it to an endgame if I get that sort of chance. I’ll play the Scotch again, though.

    Spanish would be so fun to study as White because I think I could outplay Black if I studied it some. It’s not easy to play Black’s side.

  12. I think I played Ruy for too long, I feel tired of it sometimes. But you definitely should try. Why don’t you play Ruy on FICS ? Quite a few of them will try to play Marshall attack, you can avoid it by h3/a4, or play modern Re4 variation, where White tries to intercept the initiative.

  13. RollingPawns, thanks for pointing out those lines! I would look precisely at those lines then before playing it.

    I played Ruy online a kazillion times (starting with the now defunct KasparovChess.com where I played hundreds of games, then hundreds more at Yahoo Chess, before coming to FICS. Actually, I stopped playing it after you should have beat me with the Marshall on FICS – that lucky draw for me). Yes, the Ruy can get old fast. I mostly got positional wins with it, not many draws or losses, although against strong opposition it gets more drawish I understand.

    Look how much it didn’t improve my tactics though. The Scotch was a better chance to implement tactics, so I would recommend that to you. 🙂 I think your opponents weak points, with you playing up, would be that combination of tactical/positional play that the Scotch gives. Black can get a strong, nuanced attack, but none of my opponents have found it yet because they attack crudely. For example ..Qf6, ..d5, and if I play f4, they can play ..Qh6 because the knight on e5 is immune due to the terrible pin on Be3 from ..Qh6. No one has figured this out yet. hehe. White would practically lose because of it OTB. Not too bright! haha.

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