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I Have No Idea How I Won

I Have No Idea How I Won

The Chess.com member ostria wrote:

I wonder if you would take a look at one of my games. I won, but the thing is I have no idea how! I made simple moves through the game and I am sure we both made many mistakes, but what was my opponent’s fatal mistake?


Okay, let’s leap into your, "I don’t know why I won!" game.

We have a classic isolated d-pawn position, though White’s dark-squared bishop shouldn’t be on g5 so early in the opening. Usually White plays for a kingside attack by aiming his bishops on the b1-h7 and c1-h6 diagonals. The d4-pawn might eventually become weak, but it’s also quite strong in that it gains central space and also takes aim at the c5- and e5-squares (the e5-square often becomes a nice outpost for a White knight).

Looking at this position from the other side, Black wants to exchange minor pieces (that way White’s kingside attack ideas vanish in a puff of smoke), then take aim at White’s isolated pawn with his rooks and queen.


Of course, there are also other ways to make use of the isolated d-pawn. Let’s look at a game Capablanca played where it seems that White is going after an attack but, as it turns out, he morphs all "attack dreams" into a smooth-as-butter positional slap-down!

The odd thing here is that after winning this game, Capablanca looked at Alekhine and said, "I won, but I have no idea why I won!"

Could it be that Mr. Ostria is the reincarnation of Capablanca?


Photo via Wikipedia.

Okay, let’s get back to Mr. Ostria’s game:

Though both sides made mistakes, Black’s errors were the most egregious. I must also say that very few amateurs play as ostria does, and most of his opponents can’t survive if ostria is allowed to do his magical positional chess.

For those that think pushing a pawn down the board is risky, well, yes, it can be. But many grandmaster games have been won by ostria’s strategy. Here’s a "just-off-the-presses" example:

Here’s another example of ostria’s positional skills:

Note how White played in a purely positional manner (much the same way he played in our main game). He first chopped off the f6-knight (which is one of the protectors of the d4-square), then he plopped his knight on d5 (Black panicked and traded the d5-knight for his light-squared bishop), and then White played the nice c2-c3 (depriving Black’s c6-knight from the b4 and d4 squares), Black (who had no idea what was going on) gave White the e4-square too, and then White took his remaining knight on a little journey to d5 (via Nb3-d2-c4-e3-d5).


Looking at his other games, he seems to hang stuff from time to time (pawns and pieces), and he also falters when tactical bombs pour down from the sky or if the opponent mixes things up (which leads to mutual confusion). If he can stop his blunders, work a bit on tactics, and add a dollop of dynamism to his style, he’ll be a hard man to beat.

By the way, speaking of things pouring down from the sky, I have to admit that every time I see the name shrinkdavido I think of Sharknado!


I just can’t stop the image of airborne sharks dashing about in my mind!

One more thing: Capablanca (I think!) never said, “I won, but I have no idea why I won!” As usual, I was just pulling my readers’ chains.

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