Saving a lost position

Saving a lost position

CM Christopher800
Oct 7, 2015, 5:33 PM |

As competitors we all like to win chess games.
However as we are imperfect we will always sooner or later wind up in inferior or even lost positions throughout our chess careers.

So how to save a half point or win from an inferior or lost position?
First lets talk about methods of salvaging a half point from a lost position.
1. Fortress. A fortress is a position by which a player manages to prevent a breakthrough by the stronger side's pieces.
Here is a classic example of draw by fortress. 

Despite the fact that Black is a bishop and pawn up this is a forced draw. Why? The white King cannot be forced from the corner in front of the pawn because the bishop can't control that square. This fortress exploits the fact that bishops are stuck on one complex the entire game.
Now try to anticipate the result if the dark square bishop were a knight or light square bishop instead. 

If you said black wins you are correct because the fortress defence no longer works since the promotion square of the pawn can be covered and the defending king must step aside.

2. Perpetual Check/Three fold repetition.

3. Stalemate occurs when one side has no moves but can't move.
It is similar to checkmate in that the king can't move but the king isn't in check.
This is the reason why Queen vs f/c pawn or a/h pawn on the 7th rank is a draw and why King and two knights vs king is draw. 


Despite black being one move too slow in the pawn race he saves half a point thanks to stalemate.

Now lets talk about the beautiful part of saving a lost position winning a full point.
So how is it possible to turn the tables on a lost position?

1. Set problems for your opponent. In other words do your best to make the win as difficult as possible. I've been surprised how often an active defence based on setting problems can turn things around by inducing mistakes.

2. Create complications. This is related to part 1 though it has to be added that the superior side wants as few problems as possible to convert to a win.

3. Think about the position from your opponent's point of view. From there find the move that your opponent will dislike the most due to the problems it sets.

4. Be prepared to lose. Even if your opponent spots your trap and manages to convert the game into a win at least you did your best to change the result of the game.

Here is an example where the would be loser actually wins.

The moral of the story here? If there is any practical chance play on even if objectively the position is lost. You'll be surprised how often inferior or even lost positions can be saved or even won. Another chess quote worth remembering by Tartakower is this "No game was ever won by resigning". and also by Tartakower "The winner is the one who makes the second to last mistake".

Thanks for reading my blog.