Blinded by winning

Mar 13, 2011, 12:49 PM |

I recently competed at the Eastern Class Championships. First off, I did not gain another 100+ points of ratings.  Rather, I walked away with some valuable lessons. One I will share here is my first round loss. It left a big impression as it was a game where I had a won position only to play like a caveman and turn a full point to a zero.  As we say, “Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

The game started as a Benoni but quickly transposed the Saemisch variation of the KID where I have some “familiarity” of the position.  Out of the opening, I ended up with a Space advantage in compensation for a slight Tempi in development disadvantage. Since the position was closed I was fine with this. As Black counter-attacked on the Q-side, I managed to set up a giant wedge pawn formation with the leader at d5. I think a part of me played for the artistic appeal of the pawn chain rather than the practical nature of it. There were stronger moves, I am sure, with risks. But having a flying geese pattern was “cool”.

As Black challenged my Q-side I was able to drive the menace back as he didn’t have enough attacking forces and I was setting up some tactical traps. An exchange occurred on the queenside liquidating the pawns, one set of rooks and Queens. It gave me a an advanced rook position where I challenged two pawns and won the blockading pawn of the massive geese pawn formation.

Here I was intoxicated with queening and started advancing throwing caution to the wind. Arrogantly thinking my position was so strong  and my opponent was so un prepared that winning was inevitable.

What really happened was I stopped calculating as I was “so sure” this was a winning line I was blind to what counter chances my opponent had. ALWAYS consider the defensive powers of the side fighting for their lives as they could be as tenacious as …well.. me. I underestimated my opponent and lost the game with a couple of quick moves that over extended my advantage.

When you inherit a winning position, the first thing you need to do is take inventory of how well your pieces are coordinated. After winning material, the attacker is typically thrown into a square that is not ideal and requires a Tempo or two to restore balance in the position. I forgot all about that rule and thought I could simply “intimidate” my opponent. This sort of emotional rationalization is what blocked me from the proper thought process required to follow through with the right plan.

Do as I say, not as I have done.

Hard lesson shared here.