Wednesday, February 17, 2010


A friend started out his phone conversation to me last night with "I know you aren't going to wanna hear this, but I lost a won game" followed by "If I had..."

He then went on to talk (after his game was over) about how everyone said to him, afterwards, "You had him!" I asked him if they offered any moves as proof. He said, "No, I got a phone call from a friend and we didn't discuss it any further."

He came over this afternoon and we looked at the game.
1. He definitely had Black bound up, but there was no obvious win (I am not using ChessBase here). Black was out of moves, sort of. He could move his K back and forth.
2. The problem was, White confused this position with a "won" game. I didn't see a win. The onlookers were wrong.
3. He failed to investigate an innocuous-looking move. Then Black unleashed his B to attack White's B and at the same time Black had a Rook attacking White's Q. Depressed, White sacked his Q and B for a couple Rs. Not good enough but an interesting try. Before he showed me the move which "cowed" him he defied me to find the move (since if I didn't see it how could anyone expect him to?). I suggested ...Bb4 and slowly he nodded his head. Finally, he said, "That's what he played."

Where White really went wrong was that it didn't occur to him to retreat his attacked Q back to where she came from and protect the B which was attacked by Black's B. Black then has no advantage. None of the other guys saw this either. I call it "group blindness."

What happened was White "blinded" himself. How? He told himself he had a "win" though if he did it was some moves away and nothing clear. By having to retreat when it looked like he had a "win," which wasn't really there, his Big Edge would evaporate. I've seen a lot of people do this. Once they have made up their mind they have a win they can't let this idea go even if they should. Regroup, try something else. One doesn't have to give up, but his way led to defeat. So he didn't get 1-0 and he didn't get 1/2-1/2. He got a zero for over-the-top thinking. His emotions made his moves, not his head. He had played well enough most of the game. He was almost 400 points below the eventual winner. If he had won he would have been 3-0.

Harkening back to Purdy who said to look at each position anew, as if you are seeing it for the first time. I am not saying this is easy to do, because I am sure I have violated it myself. But if you want to win more games you have to cut down on the panic. Because White felt he had Black in a vise he went after a meaningless pawn, and that's exactly what Black was hoping for. Black was in trouble and invariably this makes the "weaker" player (in position, not Elo) more vigilant, more rascally, and more "mean." It paid off as it probably has other times.

My last comment was: "If you were playing me you would have seen the Queen retreat because you fear me more and the opponent you lost to you fear less because you used to beat him like a Persian rug." Treat these guys with respect whether you like them or not.

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