The Simple Truth is- Fight!

  • GM dbojkov
  • | Jul 3, 2012

I have a student with whom I work mainly on openings. He is a decent player, has all the IM norms, and understands the game well from a positional and tactical point of view. He knows a lot, and has read a lot of books. And still, while analyzing, if I tell him that he is somewhat better in a certain position, I almost always receive the same old question- “But is it certain that I am going to win it?”

This question always puzzles me, and my reply is always the same- “Yes, you will win, if you want, and if you fight for that win!”

There is much more in these words and he knows it, as I have seen him offering draws against much lower-rated players in positions full of life. Yes, they might be objectively drawn, but please, my dear opponent, prove that first! Chess is a sport like any other in the fighting aspect, and the game should be played until the very last opportunity if you want to be successful.

We are human beings, we get tired towards the end of the game, or we lack knowledge in certain areas of the game. So why not try our chances in the endgame if the opponent was good enough in the opening preparation, careful in the tactics, and skillful in the positional maneuvering? Or why not just test their psychological stamina? There are so many places where they can go wrong!

As the great Emanuel Lasker stated first,"In the game of chess there is a clash of personalities, not only wooden pieces." And a human makes mistakes.

The following position arose at the Bulgarian Team Championship. My opponent, a very strong and experienced IM, an extremely solid player with excellent endgame technique, had just offered me a draw. Indeed, seemingly there is not much to play for. To make things worse, I was already in time trouble, counting only on the thirty-second increment.  However, as the tournament was conducted in a knock-out system, and I had lost one game already, my only chance to qualify for the final was to win this game: 

Nikolay Ninov made a relatively simple mistake. Why? Did he just want to finish the game quicker? Or did he want to play for a win himself? Did he feel uncomfortable?

You know what I will tell you honestly-- I do not care! I tried, and it worked, that is it!

If this sample was not enough to convince you that it is worth playing every position till the last bullet, you can check Robert Fischer’s games. This is what Tal wrote about him after the Zurich tournament in 1959: “Fischer did not like easy draws and he would battle until the material was completely exhausted. Against the Hungarian GM G. Barcza the 16-year-old American did not get any advantage from the opening, but kept on playing until move 103. Even after the kings only were left on the board Fischer made a further two moves! Staggered by such a fanatical onslaught, Barcza could hardly get up from the chair and replied to his young opponent’s request to analyze the game with the words: “Look, I have wife and children. Who would feed them in the event of my untimely death!”"

This game ended in a draw indeed, but the fundamental was there. Just have a close look at the period 1970-1972- those Candidates Matches in which he wiped out such "mastodons" as Taimanov and Larsen with a 6-0 result, as well as the iron Petrosian 6.5-2.5. Check those games carefully; you will see what made the big difference.

And looking at today’s heroes, one cannot help but be reminded of the play of Magnus Carlsen. Here is a most recent sample:

While one can only admire Carlsen’s superb technique, I believe that the key to his success was the fact that he kept on finding good moves, and posed problems until Gashimov erred. Or like he explained the game in his typical laconic way:

I was slightly better from the opening. In the endgame it looked pretty drawish but I had a passed pawn and my pieces were a little bit more active.


  • 4 years ago

    GM dbojkov

    By the way, this student of mine whom I mentioned above had just made a fantastic tournament with performance around 2550 and improved 60 points. He starts trusting himself Wink

  • 4 years ago


    Carlsen have almost always great coordination among his pieces. And the guy hates to lose. He was undefeated at TalMem 2012. Great job!

  • 4 years ago


    The comments on this article are even better than the excellent article itself !!

  • 4 years ago


    This article was a fun and helpful read

  • 4 years ago


    Very helpful as always, thanks!

  • 4 years ago


    Great article for my team, FIVE for FIGHTING

  • 4 years ago


    maybe you are right on this...but ok you seem so possesed....i don't like that...

  • 4 years ago


    I think in dbojkov,s game his opponent made a blunder by blocking his bishop in. it made dbojkov a piece up on the black kings quarters. why not continue in a position that seems drawn? and wait for this kind of mistake!

    In carlson,s it looks to me that its nowhere near a draw at the start of the position but i,m no pro lol.. it seems as though there is too many possible errors to make for black and he has to play more accurately where as white looks comfortable unless time was significant at that stage of the game!

    Nice blog dbojkov!

  • 4 years ago


    Chess is a very fickle game.  You can be good today and play bad the next day.  It is because it is a mind game and sometimes, our mind gets distracted by problems, noise, or even a mosquito bite on your leg.  This is the reason that, it is only in chess that there are no undefeated champions. Here you are playing for good averages.  Even the best cannot even muster a 90% lifetime winning average. So chess is like life, there are ups and downs, and most importantly do not fear losing because there is joy in the struggle particularly if you win. Sometimes, winning all the time so easily can be boring. Lastly, just like in life, you must learn how and when to sacrifice to succeed. 

  • 4 years ago


    yes like bobby fischer say I don't believe in psychology. I believe in good moves.

  • 4 years ago



    that is great

  • 4 years ago


    Great article!

    I often feel a little remorse for wins where my opponent blunders or runs out of time, but it happens (and happens to me), so this is an important lesson for chess players to learn. 

    So, smile, offer your condolences and mark down that win. 


  • 4 years ago



    why is 33- Bh6 not played?


    Because it is not check, so black has 34 Qxe4+

  • 4 years ago


    Another example of a game gone bad.. but something in line with what u said.. i was hoping for one single position to arise for a draw.. and it did happen- miraculosuly or my positive attitude..whatever.. i got a draw in a game where the outcome as nothing but a smothering loss !!

  • 4 years ago


    why is 33- Bh6 not played?

  • 4 years ago


    Nice but not consistent: One can find plenty of examples, when "fighter" rejecting a draw loses. Problem goes far beyond the scope of chessFoot in mouth

  • 4 years ago


    "But is it certain I am going to win it?" This is when you take his head and dunk it in a big bowl of ice water and hold it there for a good ten seconds. Then say, "Ask me that again!"  lol

  • 4 years ago


    Again, really a great article and well thought.   But there is a comparison between games is the idea of probabilities versus possibilities....sure, your opponent might suffer fatigue and blunder, but who wants to win a game that way?   I have plenty of games in my file where I am losing, losing, material down, losing, dead in the water, losing...and I come back to win in time or by mate....You are right.  Fight, fight, fight...but don't continue when you have clearly lost.

  • 4 years ago

    GM dbojkov

    This is a last round game, and my opponent was making an IM norm. I was also sharing 2 place, and it was counted for the team general standings- all in all it was good for both of us.

    But if you seriously intend to ask me about each and every game that I made a short draw, this will be a bit annoying.

    As for treeefingers 36 qualification- I love it Wink

  • 4 years ago


    Great article, I think especially in the 1900s and lower, some people arent as good in the endgame and you can definately try to beat your opposition then.

    I am dissapointed in this game, you chose such an aggressive opening, but then chose to draw.. why was there no fighting spirit? Was it because it was probably the last round and a draw was good enough for something?

    I would like an explanation.. thanks!

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