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Thanks for choosing to annotate a game in which your ego could have cost you the full point. With the clock ticking and with the perspective that a grandmaster should be able to outplay a lower rated player by creating imbalances, you chose not to play a move that you knew was the most sound. You even had a second chance to play the move and again chose another. Tournament players are all keenly aware of the pre-game probability of winning or losing based on rating differences. However, if we were blinded to the rating or identity of our opponents and tried to deduce the most sound move in a given position, we would be less likely to "over-reach", or even ignore our intuition (the gut feelings that experience gives us). Later in the video you describe the resource that the engine found and explained why you (a very experienced Grand Master) were unable to imagine its possibility over the board. I feel it is the phenomena of the human ego that essentially precludes a truly objective analysis of a game under tournament conditions. I would like more of these types of videos where the best players in the world reveal their foibles. I appreciate your willingness to reveal to a large audience your weaknesses. I feel somewhat less removed from the often perplexing genius of Grand Master play! Thank You.
Awesome vid and series, i really enjoyed!
These videos by chess.com are awesome. I see where I have made patterns of mistakes over and over through out my life without realizeing it. Watching a grandmaster such as Kaidanov explain why he moves his chess pieces the way he does opens my eyes and my mind up on how to think more effectively and efficently on the chess board. Right on keep those videos coming Grandmaster Kaidanov!!!
A very, very interesting lecture!
I myself have often hesitated to adopt the French with black because I thought of how drawish this exchange line could be against weaker white players.
Now I see that while a strong GM feels the Exchange French to be an unpleasant surprise - probably because he knows it is going to cost him quite some work and may even think that a different opening with black might have given easier winning chances - he perfectly knows ways how to play this for a win with black: look for ways to create some imbalance instead of looking for objectively best moves, and knowing that in some of the resulting "equal positions", a white player heading for a "dead" draw will tend to get in trouble while trying to exchange pieces.
I have the impression that typically, the main difficulty to remain aware of is to make sure not to underestimate white while black is trying to create imbalances. And I am sure that GM Kaidanov was perfectly aware of that during the game.
And looking at this game very concretely and trying to find the decisive turning point, I think that the decisive factor may unexpectedly have been exactly the opposite:
That GM Kaidanov - very surprisingly - maybe even overestimated his opponent a bit at some decisive moment in the game!
When the young opponent boldly played 15.b4, showing that he was not trying to simplify towards a draw, but trying to actively attack, this was surprising and impressive for black.
And analyzing the game a little, I think that the most important inaccuracy by black came directly after that surprise. After the still correct bishop exchange, black seems to have made an inaccuracy by playing 16...Ng6 (removing the knight from defending d5, but being too slow to really be able to carry out Ng6-e5-c4 or so). As shown in the lecture, directly after that inaccuracy 16...Ng6?!, black started to suddenly have a really difficult time on move 17 choosing between moves that were no longer really appealing to him at the board.
Instead, black could have played 16...a6!? with ideas such as:
* ...f6 controlling the center and thereby preparing the option Nc6-e5 in case the knight c6 is kicked by a4 and b5 at some point
* ideas such as Ne7-g8-f6 in some lines, clearing the e-file while using the king's knight from e7 to solidly defend d5
I assume that psychologically at the board, it is most difficult to change pace quickly enough to have a chance to start noticing that continuations like
16...a6 17.a4 f6 18.b5
seem to turn out much less dangerous for the black king than they may look at first sight, for example
18...Ne5 19.Nxe5 fxe5 20.c6 Qd6 21.cxb7+ Kxb7 22.Qb2 Rb8,
and while the black king seems surprisingly safe, it seems to me that black is getting real chances for a nice imbalanced fight, even already starting to have an edge.
In short, it seems to me that:
* while black was trying to find a way to create imbalances,
* suddenly, white boldly played Nc5 and especially b2-b4, creating dynamics on the queenside. This surprised and impressed black, and created a change in pace on the board
* sudden changes of the character of the position are always difficult. It would have required quite a huge effort of rapid adaptation to new circumstances by black to be able to start taking white's b2-b4 as a starting signal for the desired imbalances, and for starting to dare to play actively on the queenside, too, risking king safety and having to dig out the finding that the king surprisingly seems safe enough in such lines.
* But of course, black would have much preferred to dictate by himself when and how to create imbalances. Finding his way in the position after b2-b4 clearly felt like not the easiest way to win against a nominally clearly weaker opponent. Maybe this was the main general reason why he finally concluded his analysis by saying that he would finally have preferred to play the early direct Bf5 and trust in his abilities of allowing his opponent to slightly start misplaying an equal position after that?
Some of these thoughts may be quite speculative, of course. The analysis ideas presented here were found with some engine help; finding them over the board is certainly not easy at all, especially given the described circumstances. But maybe some of the video lecture audience, and maybe even GM Kaidanov himself, may find something interesting in it all the same?
Outstanding lecture. Thank you for your honesty and humility.
I wouldve taken the bishop on e3 with my rook since its not like the rook was doing anything in the game anyways.
Nothing wrong with critical, else how am I meant to learn ;)
@Rainbow -- Yeah, I didn't mean to be so "critical" of your comments, it's just that I have had lots of students make the same "assumption mistake". The main thing to remeber is that an equal position means one thing: The person who plays better is going to win! ... Funny how we all assume that word "equal" wins a draw, when it really doesn't.
So Kaidanov kind of forgot that his experience would have likely been the deciding factor in a more equal position, so compromising it to avoid equality wasn't a good decision. That's all... Good lesson, and a mistake I have made myself many times over...
Danny: Thanks for the explanation, perhaps I confused the true meanings of equality and drawish positions.
Thank you so much GM Kaidanov for your honest and insightful analysis! "You mean top GM's sometimes find engine lines mysterious?! Maybe there are chances even for me!" The lesson of humility (which is really what 'play-the-board-not-the-player' message comes down to) was a valuable one to see expressed in a practical game situation (we've all been there) and the honesty with which you zeroed in on your mistake just goes to show what an important chess skill is self-criticism.
@Rainbow -- Final statements on this issue, regarding Kaidanov's "implied lesson" that you are missing: Does a "drawish" or "equal" position mean the game needs to be agreed to a draw right away, no questions asked??? Does acheiving equality guarantee a draw against a stronger player? No and no.
That is what he is saying: He compromised his position because of WHO he was playing -- and though we all want to beat lower rated players -- making bad decisions and justifying them to ourselves because of who we are playing and what we assume their intentions are (in this case, that the "kid will be playing for a draw") is not good chess.
In hindsight, Kaidanov remembers that even if he did go for those more drawish lines -- experience would have likely told the story in the end. So compromising his position was bad business. That's all...
So yes, as black, against good players, you can't play for a win before equalizing!!! So, he should have kept control of his emotions, made the more rational decision to eqalize first, and then see where the game goes. It would not have guaranteed a draw at all -- BUT you can't go from slightly worse to winning in one move. You just can't against good players!!! You have to equalize (NOT draw) first... He forgot that, admitted as much, learned his lesson, and displayed it beautifully for all of us ... Enjoy!
Thanks for great video
Great video and game analysis. Look forward to more in the series.
Thanks GM Kaidanov.
Good video, keep focus, keep your balance.
Play the board with purpose (not just palying the other guy's game)
Chess is primarily driven by ego in most. People want to show how good they are, how they "outsmarted" their opponent and how they play great chess. Here Gm Kaidanov ( not "just" a GM but a very very strong GM) takes a game against a player that he would beat 499 out of 500 times and shows the one tough game. It shows among other things total lack of ego which is unheard of at the higher levels of chess. Many many helpful nuggets of information in Gm Kaidanov's video's if people are willing to listen.
So, play the best move, and accept a draw where necessary. Don't play a bad move just to get an unbalanced position.
Not advice I would ever need. It would never have occurred to me to do otherwise.
It's praiseworthy to see someone to show his owns mistakes, with clearness and objectively!
How can black avoid this drawish play by white? It is only one example granted, but in the game black tried to do this and (technically) lost. So how would one go about avoid drawish play by white without ruining ones position ?
by GM Gregory Kaidanov
When it comes to identifying key mistakes in your own games, chess players must be completely honest with themselves. Grandmaster Kaidanov sets a good example for us all with his candid remarks and critiques of his own recent game from a tournament in St Louis. See how he should have suffered a defeat to a much weaker and younger opponent, and if you can learn vicariously from Gregory's mistakes this weekend-- more power to you!
Players: Kevin Cao
vs. Gregory Kaidanov
French Defense: Exchange Variation (C01)
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Video: Kaidanov - Facing the French
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GM Gregory Kaidanov
Considered one of "the" premier chess trainers in America for more than ten years, Chess.com is very proud to add Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov to its list of prestigious Video Authors. Arguably one of the strongest GMs never to have won the US Championship, GM Kaidanov's list of accomplishments does however include first place finishes in many other major events, including first place at both the World Open and US Open in 1992. A certified FIDE Senior Trainer, his reputation as a chess coach precedes him internationally. Gregory currently resides in Lexington, Kentucky with his wife Valeria and their three children.
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