The Secret To Chess

Match Two, Game 2 of 4

In this game, after 30…h5?? I remembered to ask myself the question “What is my opponent’s threat?”, and appropriately moved my rook to d7 (31.Rd7??) to allow my bishop an escape square on c7, since otherwise after ….h4, the bishop is simply dropping.  Unfortunately, reacting to his threat simply loses the game.  The question I should have asked myself after finding the threat is “What is the drawback of my opponent’s last move?” (i.e., “the secret to chess”).  Answer:  Moving Black’s h-pawn undefends the g6 square, or more specifically the h-pawn no longer guards the g6 square.  Now, before every move, MDLM would ask himself “Do I have a tactic?”   In this case, the answer would have been “yes”.

What’s worse is that before my opponent’s blunder I myself didn’t find a good move for him (30…Qe4 holds the position, though), so I should I should have been more on the lookout for such a possibility.  Plus, we were going through a forcing series of moves where it seemed that neither of us should have really seen to the end ahead of time (since I sort of lead him into this maze).

One thing I want to throw out there is that there is a lot of “Quick Chess” in Colorado these days.  In fact, there is Quick chess on Tuesdays this month in CO Springs, as well as on two Fridays each month here.  There was an “Ironman” tournament of G/30, Increment 30 in Denver on Saturday.  One thing that Quick-Chess cannot imitate within a single game is the fatigue factor.  When I missed the tactic on Friday, I told myself I’d figure out a defense and then come back to look for a refutation (I noticed right away that h5 was defended by his queen).  Well, I was so fatigued by this point that I couldn’t think of anything and could only muster a dull, vacant stare at the same final board position (unless I was willing to max out my clock until inspiration struck).  The other thing is that our game started close to 6:45 pm, and the two blunders are happening after 10 pm.  So, in sum, it seems dumb to me to waste a perfectly good, beautiful Saturday morning where a Quad round-robin tournament could take place on an “Ironman” Quick-Chess tournament for $45 in Denver.  I can think of at least one person playing in it that can’t afford to be spending that kind of money on a Quick-Chess tournament which is ubiquitous here in CO.



Another great video by Grandmaster Maurice Ashley that doesn’t disappoint!


I watched another video again by Maurice, which I had watched late one night in a fog and missed what was going on, but followed it more easily this time.  What I find fascinating about this one is that although it contains unbalanced material, the whole video is really about finding counter-shots, and the games are between 1750 type players.  These games have multiple counter-shots back and forth, where say one guy traps a queen but then it’s losing (lots of queen sacs).  He says that chess is wicked like this and that tactics are always hiding in plain sight.  It made me realize that you won’t find this so much in books, where you are being shown a best game (because that person is usually winning the whole time, with the point-of-view that they are allowing all of these tactics because they know they are winning).

This is actually an important lesson when playing this way because many players who are Masters or Grandmasters will avoid a lot of these dynamic types of positions and shoot for endgame advantages straight away – check out a Chessbrah (Master) blitz session video if you don’t believe me.


Here is a great example of a game with a counter-shot that I just played!

It’s a miniature.  His resignation was perhaps premature, but the psychological effect from the counter-shot was not.  Incidentally, I missed the drawback of my own move …Bd6 when I blundered the Nd5.




3 thoughts on “The Secret To Chess

  1. I like your position after the first 12 moves.
    The first possibility for you to get an advantage was 13. Bxc4 Nxc4 14. Nd5 Nxd5 15. exd5 Be7 16. Re1 Kf8 17. b3 Ne5 winning e5 pawn.
    Your exchange sacrifice is good and sound. 29. h3 looks too cautious, Rd7 was better.
    We discussed already move 31, as you noticed even 31. Rf6 was better and lead to a better endgame after 31… Re6. There is nothing you could do afterwards.
    The conclusion I would draw out of this game is that he is human and can make serious mistakes and can be worse after the opening.

  2. Thanks! 🙂

    Yes, I should have spent less time the nothings and saved more time to exploit an advantage. I spent so much time, needlessly, looking at 25.Qh6 (+2) which does win after the surprising reposition of the bishop Bg3-f2-d4. I had only looked at rook lift and h4-h5 ideas there.

    I intentionally chose to “trap” his queen out of play on a2 by giving up that pawn, and saw that 29.Re8 RxR, 30.QxR+ Kg8 would need h3 played now for luft, but you are right that 29.Rd7 Rf8, 30.Bd6 kicks out the rook there for example, so 29…Qe2, 30.QxQ RxQ, 31.Rxb7 should be a winning endgame. The problem was that now I didn’t have much time to spend on these moves and it really lowered the quality of my play.

    I felt that his …h5 was a blunder, but didn’t see the pin, and was kind of fatigued at this point, and half of that must have been psychological since I am now attacking _and_ “defending” at the same time in this position late in the game with only a couple minutes remaining. Best defense is often not a defensive move at all, but just the stronger attack, which is what I missed here.

    I liked your line you gave there starting with move thirteen. OTB, I feel there was very little chance I would see this since the strategy of the position changes so many times in those few moves. I can see that the e-pawn falls now that you showed the line, yes, although at the board that would seem like a lot of “mental-shifts” to make. In reality, though, it’s simply calculating/following one line deeply. I was too focused on the whole b2-pawn issue OTB to be psychologically loose enough to look for that, at the time.

    Thanks again for the comment on my counter-shot. That’s really a nice concept of just looking for those, and the King’s Gambit, as seen in my Thursday’s game, is full of them!

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