The book I'm reading right now is "Chess Fundamentals" by J.R. Capablanca. The game in exercise 50 (the topic is "Directing Attacks En Masse") has an example of exactly what I was talking about yesterday. Capablanca's opponent makes an obvious blunder that costs the game (although it must be noted that Capablanca says the game was already lost when the blunder was made). Interestingly the game itself is not in chess databases--what does that mean? Who knows when/where this game was played, perhaps against his wife some Sunday afternoon? We don't know who his opponent was. (Of course it is only a guess that Capablanca was playing white, but my impression is that Capablanca is quite arrogant and likes showing off.)
Here is the game. First is the initial position of the example. White plays Bh7, Capablanca's point is attacking the king can be done but it must be done en masse and must never be stopped once it is started.
Commentators have discussed the wisdom of Bh7 in the first place. Chess computers all say no, and yet Capablanca wins (which is the most important point, right?).
But what I want to point out is the last move in the position above. After 23....Ne2, the position is this:
Seems like a great move, one I would have been proud to make. Problem is, there's a rook on e1 that just takes the black knight!
This is exactly the same problem with yesterday's puzzle, discussed in my previous post "Missing the obvious," when many commenters pointed out a move they thought would win, except that it obviously wouldn't.
So the move here was made presumably by a chess master of some sort, and yet in hindsight it was a glaring blunder. This is a stark illustration of what I asked about yesterday--is chess skill anything other than not missing the obvious? Is there anything to a chess master's play other than a better ability to notice the obvious? I still don't know the answer, but it is a strong possibility. When you listen to grand masters talk, or analyses of games, the focus is frequently on mistakes--mistakes are what open up the possibility of a win for the other side. So what is this thing called chess expertise?