Finding tactics in OTB

Jul 2, 2012, 4:56 AM |


I always knew that solving tactics trainer puzzles are quite different from finding tactics in actual games, and it is even more difficult in OTB than cc, but to experience it was really painful. I'm upset this whole day for missing this tactic but I'm glad that I decided to analyse the game with the chess engine Houdini. 


Houdini found a mate in 3 here:

21. Rh8 + !! Kxh8

22. Qh5 + Kg8

23. Qh7 #


In the actual game, I played the horrible 

21. Qh5 ?? Nxd3 +

22. Kd2 f6

23. Qh7 + Kf7 and resigned.


After the game, I, my opponent and one of my friend were analysing the game and we were in the opinion that 20. Ne5 was the mistake and 20. Ng5 would have been game over. 

Later, a friend of mine, Sanjeev Nair, rated 1833, saw a quick glimpse and found a nice winning sequence

20. Bh7 + Kh8

21. Qc2! with idea of 22. Bg8!! and 23. Qh7 #. Black can delay the mate, but the c6 knight is hanging too.


 Apparently, no human found 20. Rh8.

This problem would be a piece of cake for regular TT solvers, including me. Simple mate in 3 - Rook sac and mate. I would take less than 5 seconds to solve this in TT, that's because you are always finding for sacs and mate in TT. But that is not the case in actual game. A sac gone wrong is no big deal in TT, you solve another puzzle, but losing a round has severe psychological effects.


What is the solution? How are we able to find mate in a TT problem within seconds but unable to do so in an actual game? Suggestions are welcome.


This was a game from yesterday's local team championship. Ironically, our opponents of this round called their team - Fire on Board. Had I found the winning 21. Rh8 +, I would have created a literal fire on the board.