How To Save A Losing Game, Part 3

  • spassky
  • | Feb 8, 2010

In this game, White plays the initial phase of the opening well enough, but then he starts to drift with some questionable and unnecessary moves, which allow Black to work up a strong queenside initiative.  At that point, White: recognizes the problem, evaluates its severity, examines options, chooses one and implements it.  All of this is done without panic or self-recrimination.  It's more of a self pep talk: "It looks like you may have messed up here, and you have to do something about it right now.   It looks like you can't stop what he's going to do, so let it go, think of your best shot, and keep your fingers crossed."  The good thing about this game is that it helped me defeat a master 13 years later from the exact same position this game had after move 11.  I eliminated the unnecessary moves and played much more directly.  That game can be found on under the title "Playing On Both Sides Of The Board", which has the game Till-Collier (2005). The link is

So once again, the steps for saving a losing game are: A) Realise you are in trouble, B) Stay calm, C) Solve real problems, and D) Look for counterplay.  The sooner you realise that you have made a mistake, the more options you will have for dealing with it.  Just burying your head in the sand and hoping your opponent won't capitalize on your errors won't work.  A bad plan is better than no plan at all.  So just go for it.


  • 5 years ago



  • 6 years ago


    'Sweet, sweet open lines' !! :)

  • 6 years ago


    Oh the irony! Blocking check with a discovered check. I might have to show the guys in my chess club this position. Thanks!

  • 6 years ago


    Thank you for the wise advice which applies beyond chess.

  • 6 years ago



  • 6 years ago


    so what does bishop g1 aim for???

  • 6 years ago


    What a coincidence. I'm in the midst of two games in which, up till a move or so back, I had winning positions. In one game, I had spent a long time analyzing a definite winning move, and then left for work. Upon returning, I spotted what I though was even a better move, but didn't thouroughly analyze its consequences. My opponent's next move was to pin my queen, which I then had to trade for his rook. Wanting to kick myself where I sit, I pulled myself together. I'm down in material, but have have a passed pawn on the 7th rank. What happens next depends on how clever my opponent. is.

    In the other game I mentioned, I had a clear winning position, and analyzed how I could win my opponent's rook free of charge! But I had to prepare this with a couple of pawn moves. Again, I hadn't analyzed deeply enough and moved a pawn in the incorrect sequence; my opponent was now able to win the other pawn and ruin my combination. I wanted to down a full bottle of cognac! But what do you know - he wouldn't take the pawn, perhaps suspecting it was poisoned. So, no rook, but still what I think is still a won game. 

    Spassky's advice is very sage, indeed.

  • 6 years ago


    Thanks for this and your other great articles sir!  And yes I also saw the bishop move and said "oh no, thats going to hurt some feelings!"  ouch indeed!Surprised  LOL


    thanks again!

  • 6 years ago


    As usual very instructive article with great notes....many thanks.

  • 6 years ago


    "So once again, the steps for saving a losing game are: A) Realise you are in trouble, B) Stay calm, C) Solve real problems, and D) Look for counterplay."

    Or you can play well from the begining.

  • 6 years ago


    Good article Smile

  • 6 years ago


    Poor kid. Interesting game though...wish I get to see some of your defeats XD

  • 6 years ago


    To Galateau:

    After a little research, I found out he ended in a 3-way tie for first in the 8th grade section of the 1992 National K-12 Championship after winning his first 5 games and losing in the last round to one of the kids he tied with.  He also won the Utah Scholastic Championship the year before with a 4-0 score.  And he won the Utah 9th-12th grade championship in 1996 with a perfect 7-0 score.  So I guess that would make him about 13 when he played me.  No wonder he played so well!

  • 6 years ago


    How old was the kid?

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