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When Both Sides Try to Lose

  • IM Silman
  • | Sep 12, 2012
  • | 10642 views
  • | 26 comments

Black (newble) shared this game and asked, “Please tell me what I did wrong.”

Well, Mr. newble, it won’t be pretty, but if you insist, I’ll obey! Keep in mind that it’s not just what you did wrong, it’s what you both did wrong.

9.Nxf7?! 

Instead of forcing the draw with this tempting Knight sacrifice, White should have played 9.Qh5: 

9…Kxf7 10.Qf3+??

This badly thought out Queen check gives Black a clear advantage because White is literally forcing black’s King to run to safety on the queenside. Instead, 10.Qh5+ doesn’t allow a queenside dash:

10...Ke8??

This walks into a deadly check on g6. Instead, 10…Ke7 avoids that check and ends the attack since 11.Bg6 can be answered by 11…Be8.

11.Qh5+?? 

Instead of forcing black's King to run to safety, the insanely obvious 11.Bg6+ (which is begging to be played) wins immediately:

11...Kd8 

12.Qf7 Be7?? 

Instead of hysterically giving away your pieces, 12...Kc7 (or 12…Nge7) hangs on to everything and would have placed White in a hopeless situation. When someone threatens to eat one of your pieces (with check no less), defending that piece is usually a good idea.

13.Qxg7 Nxd4 14.Qxh8 Kc7 15.Bxh6?

Instead of chopping a useless pawn, allowing ...Qxb2 in some lines, and sticking the Bishop on the wing, both 15.c3 (kicking away the active enemy Knight) and 15.Nc3 (developing) would have led to an easy win. 

15...Qa7?? 

Pouring hope down the drain. When you are behind in material and getting crushed, you need to play sharply, make sure your pieces are as actively placed as possible, and hope for a bit of luck (active pieces often create their own luck). Retreating and defending your Rook just won’t get the job done in such a situation.

Instead of black's passive resignation to his fate, he should have demanded active play by 15...c4: 

16.c3 Nf5 17.Bxf5 exf5 18.e6 Bxe6 19.Qe5+ Kd7 20.Bf4, 1-0.

This game went back and forth on every move! Why? Because each side faced a situation where a clear problem had to be solved, and in almost every instance, they failed to find the solution. Thus we saw random checks that actually helped the opponent, and the giving away of pieces that could have easily been avoided. This kind of game, where both sides seem to be trying to lose, is typical of players who are just starting out. So please don’t feel ashamed, since we all go through this stage. Fortunately, with a bit of experience and work, both sides will be able to avoid checks that don’t do anything, and avoid giving away pieces if they can be easily defended. Once you get through that initial "giving everything away" phase, the sky is the limit.

LESSONS FROM THIS EXAMPLE

* If you’re attacking the enemy King, don’t force that King to run to safety by giving useless checks. Instead of allowing it to dash, do your best to keep it in the danger zone.

* When your King is coming under heavy fire and is vulnerable to all sorts of checks, you need to carefully weigh the result of each and every check so you can avoid a life-ending blow.

* When you are down material and getting crushed, you need to play sharply, make sure your pieces are as actively placed as possible, and hope for a bit of luck (active pieces often create their own luck). Passive play in such a situation will always lead to a bloody demise.

* When your pieces are threatened, protect them!

HOW TO PRESENT A GAME FOR CONSIDERATION

If you want me to look over your game, send it to askjeremy@chess.com

I need your name (real or chess.com handle), your OPPONENT’S name (real or chess.com handle), both players’ ratings, where the game was played, and date. If you don’t give me this information, I won’t use your game! BTW: I’ve noticed that many people are reluctant to give me their opponent’s name. This is very strange! Showing the names of both players is the way chess games are presented in databases, books, magazines… everywhere! Permission from the opponent isn’t necessary. If permission was necessary, everyone who ever lost a game wouldn’t allow their name to be on it!

Comments


  • 22 months ago

    CaesarAntolin23

    Nice

  • 22 months ago

    CaesarAntolin23

    d

  • 22 months ago

    Ricardoruben

    Very instructive again, thanks for posting! :)

  • 22 months ago

    g-levenfish

    Great article!

  • 23 months ago

    CaesarAntolin23

     hmm

  • 23 months ago

    Elubas

    To be fair, Silman has written his fair share of articles involving stronger players (one was a game where an expert wanted to know what he did wrong against a titled player).

    Moreover, everyone has their specialty. Perhaps Silman's is the ability to get weaker players to understand concepts that, if explained by someone else, would be confusing. It doesn't necessarily follow that if you are good at teaching weak players, you are good at teaching advanced players (and vice versa! For example, Mark Dvoretsky), as there may be some variation on the skills used.

  • 23 months ago

    NM ih8sens

    @Mr. Silman

    You're a great writer... I've read several of your books and articles, and have almost always been impressed.  Here, however, I have a little request.

    I'm not sure what chess.com has hired you to write/aim for, but I've noticed that you tend to focus on the games of extremely weak players.  I wish you would spend a few articles on games that were decided more strategically, rather than games marred with multiple tactical failures.  

    I consider myself a reasonably strong player, however I can readily admit that there are many on this site who are stronger than myself.  If I find these articles to be consistently 'too weak', then I am sure there are many others.

    Just a suggestion!

    -matt

  • 23 months ago

    nyLsel

    Very Instructive article!

  • 23 months ago

    DutchBagel

    You showed on your analysis of Qh5+ that it was a draw by repetition, instead, couldn't you just win material by Bg5?

  • 23 months ago

    TonyLonnie

    Although Mr Silman's analysis was essentially sound, his put-downs were completely unnecessary. Even if he's not a trained educator, he's a noted author/instructor and should be able to do much better.

  • 23 months ago

    NEWBlE

    thank you very much :D

  • 23 months ago

    Downlikeaclown

    ...and losing the game after 11...hg5 12.Qxh8 Nh6.

    Can't say I perfectly agree that it is as losing as the alternatives

  • 23 months ago

    HeadlessBishop

    I enjoyed that very much. Entertaining and informative.

  • 23 months ago

    Jaylooker

    Good point made. Also the sky really is the limit once you understand not to give pieces away and have a sense for an opponents weaknesses. Then all that's required to achieve more is to understand more.

  • 23 months ago

    IM pfren

    I am surprised noone has mentioned 9.Nxf7 Kxf7 10. Qh5+ Ke7 11. Bg5+ winning quality...

    ...and losing the game after 11...hg5 12.Qxh8 Nh6.

  • 23 months ago

    Downlikeaclown

    I am surprised noone has mentioned 9.Nxf7 Kxf7 10. Qh5+ Ke7 11. Bg5+ winning quality

  • 23 months ago

    mottsauce

    No no no, Elubas, you've got it all wrong!  Fixed it for you.

    "Anyone below 2500 makes large mistakes not uncommonly. Even if they play well for most of the game, and have come up with excellent ideas, they often crack, making a simple mistake that doesn't do them justice."

  • 23 months ago

    Elubas

    You see Liart, once you get through the "giving everything away" phase... you are pretty much 2200 elo already Laughing

    Anyone below 2000 makes large mistakes not uncommonly. Even if they play well for most of the game, and have come up with excellent ideas, they often crack, making a simple mistake that doesn't do them justice.

  • 23 months ago

    IM pfren

    Liart, it is quite clear that you have totally misinterpreted what IM Silman claimed. Read again, more carefully this time.

  • 23 months ago

    Chess_Lover11

    I like the way the tables kept changing and i think they failed to find the problem itself. Sealed

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