A Pause for the Cause

GM Akshayraj_Kore
Jun 14, 2014, 4:27 PM |

In last week's blog, we discussed how being familiar with certain positions and patterns helps us in making key decisions on the board. In our analysis, we reached the following position -

As I mentioned in the previous blog, when I was discussing this position with one of my students, it took him roughly 20 minutes to find 2.Kb6 ! after 1...Kd7. At one point he gave up and blamed me for asking him to find a win in a drawn position !  We all often hear players complaining in tournaments -"I was winning... if I had played this move, then he is lost." , "The win was one move away !", "I cannot believe I did not win that position!" . Some elite players like Karjakin might say "It takes a special talent to lose that position" and the now famous 'Sokolov Dialog', "I was completely winning. If I do not kill myself tonight, I will live for a thousand years !!" :-)

 The thing that we should observe here is that, after 1...Kd7 our minds naturally looks for a win after 1.Kd5, the move that was winning after 1...Kc7. And then we look over it again and again..... and again. It takes a lot of energy out of us, we get frustrated and then concede a draw. When we get back to our computers, we shout that we had a win in one move ! Let us look at the following game, which was recently played at the Norway 2014 Tournament.

We see that the best way to proceed here was to regroup and then continue the attack. Lets see, how Bobby used this method of regrouping to a better effect.

During our games, especially in positions where we feel we are better, we sometimes come to a dead end in our calculations. Its important at this point to look at the position with a fresh view. Take a pause for the Cause. And then we can start looking at the position with a fresh approach. I remember one of my professors remarks "When I give you a question for homework, dont google it. Because if you see the answer, then you will get stuck to that particular answer and it will be difficult for you to come with a original solution." What we can take from this, is that our preheld notions and dogmas prevent us from getting to the truth. For a chessplayer, the lines and variations that he sees or calculates should not prevent him from calculation other variations. That way we can see different possible moves in our games. 

This will broaden the set of candidate moves that we see on each move and will help us to select the best possible in the given position. I have noticed that players who perform consistently are able to free themselves from well established rules when required. Coming back to our discussion, of how we can avoid missing key moves in critical positions, we have to rid ourselves of the fantasy and beauty of variations that we calculate. Look at the position as it is and not how we want it to be.