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To Err is Human, Part 3

  • GM Gserper
  • | Mar 4, 2012
  • | 8621 views
  • | 30 comments

In the previous two parts of this series, we have already established the fact that you really need to analyze your games in order to find your mistakes so you'll never repeat them again. Unfortunately, you don't always realize the true reason for your defeat. Let me show you my own old game which I played in the qualification tournament which was supposed to determine the Soviet participant of the coming World Junior Championship.  My opponent was a talented master (future GM) Ilya Smirin:

 

Now, please replay the game from the beginning and try to determine why I lost the game.
Done? Now let's compare your findings and mine. I blamed myself for missing a primitive combination.  Of course after that I could still fight by accepting the sacrifice, but the major damage was already done.  Is that what you thought as well?
The next year I was invited to attend the famous Botvinnik-Kasparov school, where amongst all the exciting things we played a clock simul against Kasparov. Unfortunately, I managed to lose the complete score of the game (don't ask how I could be so careless, it is a really long story); all I remember is the opening because it made a strong impression on me.
So, as you could see, we repeated the moves and as far as I remember we did it more than the 3 times required to claim a draw. Neither opponent claimed the draw though, so the game continued and I duly lost it. It is understandable that Kasparov would never claim a draw, but why did he accept a chance that I could claim it and why didn't I? I asked Kasparov these questions after the game.  He laughed and said that he used this trick in simuls against masters many times and so far none of his opponents claimed a draw.
Why? The short answer is pride. You are a master playing White in a clock simul and have a theoretical position which is good for you and you know it. Now, wouldn't you consider yourself a coward if you took a draw in such a situation?  On the other hand, by refusing a draw you are saying: "Look , you may be the World Champion, but I am not a patzer either!" and doesn't it feel good? So by refusing a draw you take a risk without actually taking a big risk because you know that your position is good.  If it was a middlegame and the position was unclear Kasparov said he wouldn't bluff, because his opponent would probably accept a draw since there is a big risk to fight Kasparov in an unclear situation.
It was a revelation to me!  Kasparov practically read my mind. I immediately remembered the game against Smirin and realized that I fell for the same trick without even knowing it!  When we started the repetition of the moves in that game I had an extra pawn. I knew that he had a decent compensation for the pawn and in the sharp middlegame position the extra pawn wasn't that important.  And yet this  extra pawn didn't allow me to accept a draw, just like I didn't except a draw against Kasparov in the theoretical position which was supposedly better for White because I would consider myself a coward. Also the extra pawn against Smirin gave me the same false sense of security and just like against Kasparov, I took a risk without taking a big risk, or at least I thought that way.  Boy, was I punished in both games!  The lesson was learned and the next year, when I played the next qualification tournament which was supposed to determine the Soviet participant of the coming World Junior Championship, I used Kasparov's trick myself!
This game definitely helped me to win the tournament, but most importantly confirmed the learned lesson: "Refusing a draw doesn't automatically make you brave just like accepting a draw doesn't make you a coward!"
In the next game the effect of this little trick was much bigger than I could imagine:
As you noticed we started repeating the moves and I would really hate it if my opponent claimed a draw because I really liked my position.  But as I already learned, the risk was very small since Shirov's rating was about 150 points higher than mine and besides his position looked OK, so by refusing a draw he wouldn't take a big risk. Unfortunately, by refusing a draw Black made  serious concessions, which lead to an inferior position and the ultimate blunder. As you all know, GM Alexey Shirov is a brilliant tactician, so I really doubt that under normal circumstances he would blunder like this.  But that's exactly what I did in the game against Smirin!
As you could see, the biggest mistakes are made not on the chessboard sometimes but in the player's head!
to be continued...

Comments


  • 2 years ago

    RCA_U

    thanks cool articleWink

  • 2 years ago

    hasit

    nyc article

  • 2 years ago

    baseballdude

    Great article! five stars!

  • 2 years ago

    g-levenfish

    Nice article!

  • 2 years ago

    halfmate

    Interesting games! I liked Splane's game as well.

  • 2 years ago

    bEastNest

    nice

  • 2 years ago

    gonee

    im confused by the Nxb2 :/  im a beginner XD

  • 2 years ago

    karangtarunasemarang

    Cool article Smile

  • 2 years ago

    Elubas

    Ok, thanks for clearing that up. I didn't think you had to.

  • 2 years ago

    TenaciousE

    <Elubas>  You must claim the draw at the point the position is reached for the third time, not later.  However, if the same position later occurred for the fourth time, you could claim the draw at that point.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threefold_repetition

  • 2 years ago

    Elubas

    Wait just a minute! I thought you could claim a draw by repetition at any point in the game, as long as one occurred that you can prove. Could you not, instead of resigning, claim a draw instead by pointing to the repeated position? Since when is this rule like en passant, where you can only use it the second it becomes available and never again?

  • 2 years ago

    Darthstapler8

    I saw Ilya Smirin play in person once.

  • 2 years ago

    BlueMarlins

    Recurring mistakes don't happen in chess only but even in my favorite NBA team also.Cry

    Nice article!

  • 2 years ago

    thescarletknight

    Also, why play any different against someone just because their ranking is higher? If I ever find myself playing a grand master and have somehow found a way to beat him, I'm beating him right then and there. On the same token, be being not even a name in the rankings, if he repeats a move a lot for reasons I can't see, and we move those three times, I'm assuming he's not liking something he sees and I'm not risking playing further and losing, I'm taking that draw. A win or draw for me against a grand master would be put down on my list of amazing feats in my life. 

  • 2 years ago

    thescarletknight

    Hey so....I'm no Grand Master by any means, I'm a novice player but I've been playing for about 10 years, but I noticed something in your first puzzle, when you sunk that knight in by his king....not sure what you were looking for there to start with, but from what I can see him moving his pawn rather than just snatching the now unprotected knight, which you note as having thrown you off, was best thing that could have happened in my humble opionon. Had I made a move like that I would have been praying for him to make a random move like that. You could have had him right then and there. Here's what I'm seeing, you shoulda went Qc3 to take his knight, Ka4, for backup, then Qb2#. The only thing I'm seeing him able to do to stop that in the amount of turns he had is move Bb5  so he can take your knight. Now....he's a grandmaster so might have done that? Sure, but even so I doubt you would have had to resign that quickly if you approached it that way. Is this the simple combo you claim to have missed? Also....why exactly did you resign? From what I can see you're still in stronger position? I'm always one to play a game out for the end game practice either way but I'm really not seeing what was so horrible about your postition that you decided to resign so quickly. 

  • 2 years ago

    CheckerboardVision

    Biggest mistakes, correct mental attitude first, then worry about pieces on board:  Check!

  • 2 years ago

    NM Splane

    As is usually the case, I really liked your column.

    If anybody is interested, I faced a very similar sacrifice to what happened in your first game (NxNP). I accepted it and managed to survive. Here is that game with my notes. The sacrifice occurred on move 19.  http://www.cob.sjsu.edu/splane_m/chess/Levitan14.htm

  • 2 years ago

    TwoMove

    In one simul game an opponent of Kasparov did take the draw in that Svesnikov line, and was then roundly berated by Kasparov for not playing on, as it was a honour to be playing the world champion. So if subtle psychology doesn't work, can move on to pure itimidation.

  • 2 years ago

    sryiwannadraw

    1. last game, beautiful
    2. Thanks!
  • 2 years ago

    lilAj

    honestly, i'm going to save this to read it over and over again :) 

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