To the Victor Goes the Spoils: RIP Dvoretsky

To the Victor Goes the Spoils: RIP Dvoretsky

NM CraiggoryC

Many people have been seduced by the play of the winner. Sometimes to the point of recommending that the victor played perfectly and to emulate this person's play. This is all well and good, until you find out that many an annotator has been misled to believe that the victor's moves were all first rate. When in reality the victor might have been worse most of the game, and only gained victory because of a huge misstep by the opponent. 

Let's go over an example, so that the above paragraph makes more sense. 

For the following puzzle can you guess the interesting move I played that helped me pull out a victory in this game?

The whole game:

Ok so you might think that 15. Nb1!? won the game if you didn't analyze the game throughly and just took the victor at his/her's word. You might even award 15. Nb1 with a "!" or even "!!". This is not the case however; take a look at the position after 15. Nb1. What would you play for Black? 15..._____________


I was already in the process of writing up this part of the blog, when I heard about the horrible news of Mark Dvoretsky's passing. At first I was going to scrap it, but I came to realize that everything I learned from Dvoretsky was challenging other people's annotations! <--This is a great way to get stronger at chess by the way, even if you come to agree with the annotator at the end your time will not be wasted. When you challenge an assessment of a position you really have to delve deep into the complexities of the position; your knowledge of that position (and similar positions that you may face in the future) will increase by bounds!

Let's first see why I believe that Dvoretsky was all about finding the "truth" in positions. The following position I got from his book, "School of Chess Excellence 2: Tactical Play"

Can you find the way for Black to defend him/herself?

Dvoretsky then spends pages on trying to find a solution, until he comes up with what he thought was the solution!

These last example is from one of my favorite games of all time. Do not be discouraged if you get the puzzles right (they are quite difficult) it is much more important that you understand the answers.

What should White play here? *Hint* the correct answer is both tactical and (more) strategical

What should White play here? *Hint* the correct answer is both (more) tactical and strategical
Tal showed a flashy way to end the game, can you find it? *Hint* This one is almost all tactical
Finally on move 17 Black has a move that I believe was missed by Dvoretsky and Jussupow (Yusupov is another spelling, he was Dvoretsky's most famous student) Can you find it?
Challenging annotations is a great way to understand the position you are going over. There's only two things that can happen when you challenge an annotation. 1. You're right and you just made a cool discovery or 2. You're wrong and you now understand the position (and got better at chess) you are analyzing better.