More Inexperienced Player Mistakes

More Inexperienced Player Mistakes

| 34 | Tactics

In last week's article, we saw that breaking the classical rules of play in the openings is one of the cardinal sins of less experienced players.

Another common problem that you can find in their games is missing basic tactical ideas. Don't get me wrong, we all miss tactics in our games. Give me a couple of hundreds games of any chess player (including the world champions!) and I'll show you dozens of missed tactics.

It is easy these days to follow any super tournament having a silicon monster at the tip of your fingers. It gives you sometimes an impression of superiority because you see a tactical shot and it looks very simple after your chess engine showed you how it works. You start wondering how come this super-duper 2800+ GM doesn't see it?

Of course it is very deceptive and let me assure you that unless you have a computer chip installed into your brain you'll miss many tactics in your games.

But when I talk about tactics missed by players rated below USCF 1500, I usually mean really basic, textbook ideas. Look for example at the next position and try to figure out what's going on there:

It cannot be more basic than this one. It is really "back rank checkmate 101." In all the following examples taken from the World Youth Championship 2015, one or sometimes both players were unfamiliar with typical tactical patterns. Judge for yourself:

You can argue that I am too hard on these poor little kids under 10 years old. But I am talking only about the most basic tactics here. For instance I am not going to blame Momchil Petkov for missing the next combo of his opponent, because, as we already know, this is the tactic frequently missed by super-grandmasters!

Moreover, I wouldn't blame Konstantin Popov for the next horrendous blunder:

You see, Black's move 25...Nxe5 was a start of the combination and he simply missed that White can recapture it with his rook first, not the bishop. Yes, it was a blunder, but sometimes chess players get blindsided by the possibility of a combination. Unconsciously they want to make it work so badly that they forget little details that make all the difference. Who can forget the following famous game?

This game knocked out Vassily Ivanchuk from the world championship. Just like Konstantin Popov, GM Ivanchuk got excited about his combination and missed the simple response of his opponent. But you are not going to accuse the super-GM Ivanchuk of the inability to calculate two moves ahead, are you?

Nevertheless, if you want to see steady progress in your chess, the blunders should be eliminated or at least reduced. The following game was a true blunderfest:

It is difficult to explain what Black missed since besides 18. Qd2 almost any other queen move (18. Qc4, 18 Qd3, 18. Qc2, 18 Qe1) would lead to bad consequences for him. But now it was White's turn to blunder. What should Black do in the following position?

But look what happened in the game:

Not only did Black miss the golden opportunity on move 23, he also got a second chance on the very next move and missed it again. 

In conclusion let me repeat the well-known cliche about chess being 99 percent tactics. So, if you want to get better in chess, at least get familiar with the basic tactical ideas!

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