Chess Dreams Do Come True
Don't let your chess dreams be dreams.

Chess Dreams Do Come True

IM Silman
Feb 23, 2018, 2:50 PM |
44 | Other

As many of you remember, I’ve used "BB’s" games as good examples of both right and wrong ideas and moves. He plays a lot of one-game-a-week USCF rated games, and sometime he also plays two tournaments at the same time (on different days, of course).

Ten years ago he reached an all-time high rating of 1634, but as the years went by he started to shed rating points until his rating was 1400. From 1634 to 1400. Now he’s 56 years old and, to his horror, he realized that the next step was the 1300s.

It’s clear that age isn’t a friend of chess.

old chess book

Nonetheless, about eight weeks ago he entered two tournaments (six weeks in each tournament, 12 games all together). One was an under-1700 tournament (in the Pasadena Chess Club), the other (the Arcadia Chess Club) was under 1800. Of course, he understood that he had no chance to win (he never came close to winning a tournament), but he decided to do his best and, at the least, gain a few rating points as a buffer from falling lower than he already had.

In a way, it was do or die.

After a few rounds he called me and said he was doing really well (BB, a really nice guy, is my student and my friend). I realized that he had, somehow, started to believe in himself (confidence in chess is very important). Then, in the blink of an eye, he was 5-0 and playing for first place in the Pasadena tournament; his opponent was the only guy who had 4 1/2 (in other words, Black had to win the game).

Black got a small plus in the opening, but neither player was in serious danger. Which player would be the first to crack? Both sides made small errors and White managed to get an advantage, though there was a lot of chess ahead.

Then came Black’s 38 move:

Winning the Pasadena tournament was a dream come true for BB. But he was also delighted with his play in the Arcadia event. He came in second with a 4 1/2 (out of six games) score! His draw was against a 1785 player and his loss was against a 1796.

What does this tell us? Well, if you believe in yourself, if you look at your age as a plus (more experience!), and if you keep trying and trying, anything is possible.

Here are some BB highlights (or missed highlights!):


White just played Re1, which looks very logical. However, it’s a serious mistake. Unfortunately, the punishment was too advanced for either player:


A Moment With the Pros


BB played the very strong 35...Rxg2 and won on move 39. However, he missed something that was even better. Can you find it?

In chess, if you are killing an opponent, sometime the right thing is to trade off pieces and win an endgame, sometimes it's correct to turn a sharp game into a positional wipeout, and sometimes (especially if the opponent’s king hasn’t castled) the right thing is to beat the opponent down in brutal fashion.

The following position demands brutality, and BB grabbed that mentality and never let go.

This “death by e-file” actually made me remember two games by Tal where he dominated the e-file. I think you’ll enjoy them.


BB seems to have gone through those tournaments smoothly. But that’s not the case. He and others all bow down to the following disease: RATING FEAR!

Almost all players panic and play the worst chess of their life when they face someone rated 300+ points higher. Here’s a typical example:

White had botched things, but Black started to panic, letting White get one more chance to save the game. BB jumped on the opportunity right away!

Finally, an odd thing happened on the way to the chessboard:

What’s funny is that BB played Mr. King 12 months ago and Mr. King fell for the same trap, getting himself mated in six moves again.

One might think that such traps only occur in low-rated players’ games, and nobody (even low-rated players) would fall into the same trap twice. However, this isn’t true.

The great Rubinstein fell into the following trap:

Two years later, the following happened:

A slightly different position occurred in a earlier game:

There are many different traps in chess, and there are a lot of grandmasters who've fallen into them. So if you fall into a trap, don’t despair; you’ll be in good company!

As for BB's wonderful results, those tournaments were so good that his rating went from 1400 to 1666, the highest rating he has ever had.

Congratulations! You worked hard over the years and now the chess gods are finally giving you your well-deserved rewards.

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