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Winning Winning Positions

  • GM arunabi
  • | Jul 18, 2011
  • | 17869 views
  • | 46 comments

Hi! :) Hopefully this isn't too vague a question...

I am a 2000-2100ish rated player and have been experiencing a horrible slump lately.  Despite playing pretty excellently for my first 20-25 moves or so (including a winning pawn up endgame vs. one IM), I find myself blundering in winning positions quite regularly.  I was wondering if you had any advice on how to convert winning positions against stronger players. 

Thanks in advance for any help!

 

This is really a good question. To be more specific this was one of the questions that I had in mind before I became a Grandmaster. To me what was more irritating was I managed to get all 3 GM norms and my rating was 2492 and I had to get just 8 rating points to become a GM. In many of the crucial games where my rating would be somewhere around 2495 and a win would take me to a 2500 rating I would spoil the winning game and would keep trailing. It took four tournaments for me to gain those vital 8 rating points, but when I managed to win the winning positions I crossed the 2500 rating mark with a 32-rating point bound!

To begin with the problem with not winning winning positions arises out of several factors.

1)   Loss of Focus: Some players tend to lose focus once they get an advantage. Imagine how attentive a player will be when he knows that he is on the verge of losing the game. In a winning position you are pushing your opponent into a corner; the more you push, the more desperate becomes. So it is very important to focus on the game and probably concentrate even harder once you get the advantage. "It ain't over till the fat lady sings."

2)   Fear or Pressure: When this mistake keeps happening again and again you will lose confidence in yourself and even when you get into a good position you will be really scared. I faced this problem myself in one of the tournaments against a GM. I had in my mind that once I got the advantage my opponent is going to give stiff resistance and I was scared to play then. Thinking of these things during the game will definitely not help and will make things more complicated.

3)   The ability to calculate well: In chess in most the positions, if you are able to calculate 3-4 moves without a mistake you will not lose the game unless the position is extremely complex. So try to improve your calculating skill. This will really help in finding the right moves and you can still outplay your opponent even if he is putting up stiff resistance.

4)   Time management: This is one of the vital factors. In many of the games we will manage to get an advantage but we will not have enough time on the clock to convert it. So having enough time is also necessary to get a positive result.

5)   Analyze top players' games regularly. Try to figure out the moves played by yourself and see how they are doing things differently than you do. Blunders can be avoided if you are much more alert during the game.

6)   It will also be useful if you can talk verbally to yourself about the position. This is an important point told to me by my coach. Tell yourself the advantage you have and the problems your opponent has, how you can convert your advantage or pressurize your opponent further, etc. Remember this is not calculating moves but telling yourself verbally.

I would like to show a couple of my game where I missed my winning chances.

 

 

When I played this game my rating was 2499 (including the rating increase in other tournament not yet listed). If I won this game I was crossing 2500 and I would become a GM. This placed a lot of pressure on me in this game which obviously did not help. The mistake on my part was getting into time trouble when I was nearing the winning line. My calculating ability was so slow that I had problems in finding 38. Qxf5 followed by Nf6 39.Bh5 Ke7 40.Rg7 Kd8 41. Qxf6. and I played 38.Bh5?? and suddenly landed in a losing position.  

 

The position I agreed a draw is winning for me. The reason is fear. The main problem was I was defending my king for so many moves and when it took longer than I thought I was not defending patiently. If I could calculate any furthwr moves I could have won. But I was not in the state of mind of play as I was scared witless!

I hope this is helpful! If you have further questions on this subject, let us know. We are here to answer your questions, after all!

Comments


  • 3 years ago

    milestogo2

    Sure it can.  Would you rather call it "Actually winning a game in which the the position indicates that there is a high probability of winning?" That really has a ring to it. Most chess players call it "Winning a Won Game" and we know what it means. Are you an English major or a chess player?

  • 3 years ago

    _36darshan--

    This article is informative.

  • 3 years ago

    karthick2229

    thank u .., am also a chess fan and i have a question? As a engg, student how to prepare myself for both chess and my carrier ?  

  • 3 years ago

    Bronir

    woody, use your opponent's time :D

  • 3 years ago

    JuanMatius

    Just so so i think

  • 3 years ago

    sryiwannadraw

    Great games , thank you!

  • 3 years ago

    woody_wood_picker

    GM Arun

       Your article is very nice!

        My problem is about time management. I'm slow but I can calculate if given enough time. Each time we have club tournament here is that my opponent and I have only 30 minutes each to finish the game. So, everytime I played in this kind of tournament, I hardly win with an opponent I easily beat in long games. How could I improve calculating in a 30-minute game mode? How can I overcome the fear of calculating each time I glance to the chess clock and find out that I have only few minutes left. It seems that 30 minutes is so short for me. Thanks

  • 3 years ago

    Thesaint8x

    Really great article on something that troubles me always.I have little doubt that I have an attitude problem once I am in a winning position.I feel over confident and do not look at the minute details of the positional/tactical elements.

       Henceforth,in a winning position I will follow GM Arun's best advise-focus.I shall seek at that point to win at any (reasonable)cost.Also  I note that in my younger days I had less chess knowledge but was quite adept at winning from an advantageous position.

  • 3 years ago

    dartking

    let me give an exampole of what calculating means. after a series of exchanges which you thoughtr was winning material you overlook that the last exchange occurs with a double check that requires aking movetherefore negating any material gain! one should also remember that not only must one calculate 'one must be able tio evaluate the resulting posyion. did i win a pawn but have a worse as aresult? i once had an over the boeard can where my opponent checked me. i interposed with check and sacrificed 2 pieces and my queen. i sat for 45 minutes looking at all the moves my ooponent could make before i made my repl. the position was such that all of my opponents moves were forced and at move ten of the combo he saw he was about to be mated with pb3 and resigned.this is an exampole that is the exception to the norm. ther are times when i can't see 3 moves ahea

  • 3 years ago

    stringtheoryfanatic

    i am wondering what does it mean exactly 2 calculate and like infinex said how 2 do that

  • 3 years ago

    Webhead

    @zzgloo

    Peace, sir.  Define it anyway you'd like.  I don't enjoy arguing a point that is clear.

  • 3 years ago

    zzgloo

    I do not know what " Dude " means...I am assuming it is a polite and nice  term , similar to gentleman or sir......

    Position and game....make no difference when one uses the term " WON "....

    If a position was " WON ",and one made the mistake, and lost the position as well as the game......then it must not have been a " WON " position...it should have been called " Winning position "..... the third part of the verb to win " WON ", or the third part of any verb..is " Absolute "...that is why " The winning position " and " The WON " positions have seperate meanings......

    what other difference do you thing these terms have in thier meanings ?    

  • 3 years ago

    Webhead

    @zzgloo

    Dude, a position is not a game.  A position is a point in time during a game.  You can have a won position, play badly, and lose the game.

  • 3 years ago

    zzgloo

    English is not my first language....how ever, based on the little I know....

    The Verb : To Win....has three forms.....WIN, WON,WON.........the secound and third form of the verb WIN...which is WON and WON...one has to do with past tense..and the other which is mostly used in "Present perfect tense " ...has the meaning of " Done with,and finished ".....

    A " WON " position or " WON " game...is finished and done with.....

    If a Position is " WON ", it can not , by defenition, end up losing either the position or the game.......How ever, a "Wining position ", is not finished, and is currant and still is being worked on, and can have losing out come. 

    If one charactorize a position as " WON ".....it " Must " end with a Win !..otherwise the charactorization was wrong.

  • 3 years ago

    Webhead

    There is a difference between "winning" and "won" positions.  Also notice it says position, not game.  A won position does not mean a won game because you must convert the position.  "Winning" roughly means there is an advantage that can be converted into a won game with correct play.  "Won" roughly means there is some overwhelming advantage like an extra piece or unstoppable passed pawn and only blunders could lose the game.

  • 3 years ago

    zzgloo

    You can improve on your calcculating abilities....by playing " Slow " chess...such as Postal chess, or 3 to 5 day interval for each move.....then work on every posibilities, and work out each lines up 10 to 15 moves ahead...and compare...and find the best 3 moves...and then choose based on better prospect any one those 3 moves may have.....then practice to do the same on a faster pace !

  • 3 years ago

    infinex

    You say that one of the things we should do is improve our calculating abilities.  How does one do that?

  • 3 years ago

    MusicKnight

    I didnt know chess.com had a 'ask the GM' series, is this a regular kind of thing?

  • 3 years ago

    zzgloo

    It can not be " Winning WON positions ", because, as long as there is a possibility you might lose, then it can  not be called " WON " position.

  • 3 years ago

    Caliphigia

    Am I a purist, or the title of this acrticle should be WINNING WON POSITIONS ?

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