Optimism and Pessimism

…leads to time-trouble.

Round 1

This game was too many whipsaw emotional changes for me. I didn’t coldly analyze without taking far in excess of time on the clock.

In the opening, I thought Nf3 instead of f4 was really strong, but I figured that I win so much against him with crazier positions, I may as well keep that up, but I knew it wasn’t as strong, and his ..e5 was expected, and yet it still stumped me on the clock and I went wrong.

It took me forever to find the Ne2 move defense after he had played ..Nxe4. His sac wasn’t entirely unexpected, and yet I couldn’t find the simple defensive move until after I had seen that everything else is losing. For example, I had seen that Qg4-Qxg7 loses to Qf6, but I couldn’t stop looking at aggressive continuations rather than passive ones. I even kept looking at it until I found ..Nd6-f6, Qxg Rg8. Talk about going psycho! Of course Nf3 is too passive after Nxc3, Qd2, Nxd5 at the least least and has three pawns.

When I played 17.Re1, I was trying to trap him, hoping he would play a Re8 instead of ..Nxc4. He did fall into my trap, but that wasn’t good chess on my part.

I didn’t even look at 19.Be7, which wins. I was already low on the clock and only looked at 19.Rxf7 KxR, 20.Qh5+ Kg8 winning my rook, which made me think I should simply play a “normal” move there and stop looking.

Perhaps I should simply describe the end of the game, it is much like the rest of the game, I could caught up in my flights of fantasy and emotions. I saw that his ..Re8 was obviously much weaker than ..Qxc, which seemed winning for him and is around +1. I played ..Qb8 thinking it was my last chance to go for a win. I calculated that trading pieces to king and pawn looked winning, and if he plays ..Kf8, I can also trade rooks and play Qxd6+.

So, it’s not that I wasn’t calculating, it’s that I had 3 minutes left when I played ..Qb8 (thinking I still needed 3 minutes to win the game), and when he simply took my queen (I thought I had a pin, naturally), it was a daydream-crusher.

He had around 46 minutes left and controlled his emotions and clock much better than I. He was going to draw me with perpetual check, and said that he should have offered me the draw before.

Tactics are big, I miss the weird sort of moves that others wouldn’t miss, particularly simply retreating a piece (Be7, and even RxQ were both “retreating” moves). After the game, I realized my weakness is finding “simple defensive moves”, although I sort of knew this already, but this is what it leads to, both time-trouble on defense, and an aggressive blunder on offense. I have missed this same blunder in post-mortems before, yet not in a real game. So, there is definitely a type of defensive move that I miss, or more likely several.

The best way to find simple defensive moves is probably blitz chess, and RollingPawns is good at finding these moves. But there are no puzzle-books on finding no-brainer simple defensive moves, or retreat for the win. Everything is attack, attack, attack with defense not being worthy of mentioning unless it notes how some heinous sideline attack is stopped beautifully by it. There is no book on how to “unscr*w” yourself” during the middle of a chess game, only how to win those from the winning side, so it comes as much more of a shock when it happens.

I didn’t even feel too bad about losing, simply left. I mean, I simply never saw the move ..RxQ, and thought I was winning. Certainly more time would have helped, so I could easily blame it on clock-management as well.

I can’t say that I was in the proper emotional state going into this game, I wasn’t. I am simply playing to improve my chess, and OTB experience.

I should add that the move …Qc6 came as a shock as well, since we had both presumably seen that White was winning, and he makes a retreating move which I hadn’t considered! I think even he saw Be7, because he looked like he had missed something, but the fact that he had spoiled the win that I had seen left me in disbelief. Anyhow, I point this out because it is another retreating move that I had missed.

Once I lost a game to Isaac because I had missed a simple bishop defensive retreating moves much like this Be7 move, and it was completely obvious to everyone but me.

Here’s another example, foreshadowing my result:

I missed the last move of this game this morning. Fischer plays Ne2, retreating his knight from capture, and Benko resigns. I completely missed this idea of retreating his knight from capture. One moment Bobby is offering his rook, the next moment he is retreating his knight from capture. This is the sort of psychological shift which a great player can handle.

Here’s a great example of what Mark would call a “strong retreat”. He has conceptualized this, and I have never heard anyone but him mention such a thing (although, again RollingPawns is very good at these, too).

17.Rad1 instead of 17.Re1 (I had sensed Rad1 was correct). I had seen that 17.Rad1 Qxc4 and if I trade queens, Black is winning, up two pawns. But, 18.Qf3! is a strong-retreat. Not only does it indirectly threated to take on b7, it also indirectly defends c2 via Rc1, a2 via Bxg7 Kxg7, Qf6+ perpetual, and it directly threatens to win the pawn on d6. So Black is supposed to play ..f6, BxN cxB, Qxb7 and White should be able to turn it into a 3 vs. 2 pawns on the kingside, trading off queenside pawns. I guess what makes this move shocking on the face of it is that White is down two pawns and ostensibly offering a third. But this is how one saves games!

I think what’s happened is that I am so used to walking over lower-rated players (it’s not my fault this happens!) that by the time I get into a situation where I have to play defense, I have much less experience. Clock time is also best saved for defense. With the killer-move, you usually find it right away or you don’t, and this is largely based on your training away from the board. Defense requires time for me.

Fruit just showed me a mesmerizing “strong retreat”.
11.Bb5+ Kf8, 19.Ba3 a6, 20.Bc4 b5, 21.Qe1!! stepping out of the pin. 21..bxBc4, 22.Ng3 NxN, 23.QxN Qxd5 (BxNc5+ was threatened), 24.QxBg4 Kg8 and it is roughly equal

BTW, I did look at Be7 for a moment, I remember now, and thought he plays ..Qd7 and wins my bishop on e7 instead, so what’s the difference. That is when I looked at Rxf7 sac because the queen couldn’t retreat to defend that one. Yes, time pressure botched this move.

My problem is my emotions. ..Qc6 was a complete shock. Isaac, or maybe little kids in general, I think their big advantage, hadn’t thought of this before, is that they don’t get emotional over a move for more than a few seconds. Kids “get over it” really quickly. The faster, unemotional calculator of tactics should win at G/90. I suppose one could win at positional play, but then avoiding open positions would have to be a top priority. Actually, for me, closed positions are not my game, but I play some of them to remain balanced.


5 thoughts on “Optimism and Pessimism

  1. fxe5 weakens e1-h4 diagonal, so Qh4+, Qxe4 works in some lines of King’s Gambit (usually Falkbeer or Nimzowitsch countergambits) or French.
    You should be very careful with it.
    Bg5 instead of Bd3 neutralizes Nxe4 threat.
    Even Ne2 is not much help as you are at -2 already.
    Simple 22. Rxe8 Qxe8 23. h3 was leading to an equal queen endgame.
    3 minutes left after 22 moves made … you know what I will say.
    I think you are going through some crisis, you should simplify your play, how they say in hockey.
    Starting from opening, don’t play the lines that you don’t know well. And maybe these tactics exercises didn’t sink into you yet, you are looking for complicated stuff and missing the simple one, so start with the simple one.

  2. Yes, you are right in all these respects.

    I never thought of fxe5 weakening the e1-h4 diagonal, but it does, now that you mention it. I was only thinking of attacking with this move. Great point.

    Actually, Bg5 is losing, although it is also Fruit’s choice at first – follow it through for a few moves in conjunction with ..c6!, which allows ..Qb6+ and attack with knight on f2. After …Nxe4 I am okay, it seems like White is losing, but it’s actually equal after the whole Ne2..Bg4 stuff. Black should play ..Nf6 as I thought at the time. He was playing with fire with …Bg4, but I didn’t bite back, and should have lost.

    After …e5, I should have played Nf3 exd, Nxd4 and okay I have a backward pawn, but not accepting this backward pawn tactical middlegame is to question then why I would even play f4 in the first place if I weren’t looking for that type of game? I’ve looked at this position a lot, never seen a more tactical position in all my life. e4 is not backward, e5 is coming, and that is where the mind-boggling complications begin, but much prefer White. I think Waitzkin used to play like this as White, and I can see where his calculating ability pays off.

    I have to either accept that I am playing for a crazy position, or play positional right from the get-go. I should try positional at G/90 where I can, for the sake of rating points.

    I am getting my tactical, and new positional sea-legs under me. The one thing I was happy about from this game is that I went for the win, even though I was down to 3 minutes and blundered. It’s a lot easier to blitz for a draw in that situation and pass up a win. I was trying to find both, still.

  3. I repeated the same thing you did, blundering mate in 1. The boy was 1600+ rated, underrated definitely, he played on 1900 level at Canadian Open.
    I played OK, though overestimated my advantage by much, and then it looked like he blundered (I think he even made a little grimace) and when I took his rook and thought that he would resign … You can guess how I feel.
    Will post the game tomorrow.

  4. RollingPawns, don’t feel bad, at least you made a mistake by making an aggressive blunder rather than a passive one.

    I played Alex about 20 games of 8 minute blitz chess until 2 am, won about 17 of them. He’s a 1650 player. I drew my main game of the night vs. Dean, who is usually around 1600 or just below. You can’t be too hard on yourself in what happens in the main game. All of the study does pay off, it just doesn’t always come out during the 90 minute game. 😉

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