Combo of the week

Combo of the week


Those Chesscube ratings are pretty inflated, aren't they?

There's something morbidly fascinating about studying blunders. I want to explain what was going through my mind when I played these moves. I had 2:24 and took four seconds to play Ng4. I've just sacrificed a pawn in order to exchange white's Bg2 (or actually in the hope that white would take the rook and not exchange bishops.) Looking at it in the cold light of day, it doesn't look like black has much, or indeed any, compensation. But a pawn in a three minute game isn't very significant, especially if the ending is a long way off.

There are two reasons why I played Ng4. One was that Ng4 was a move I had seen a few moves earlier and wanted to play, but I had played Nh6 instead. So I was already eager to play it. The other reason was that old instinct "Improve your worst-paced piece". I honestly don't know what black's best move was in the position, but to me 1. ... f5 looks about the most promising. Or 1. ... Nf5 threatens 2. ... Bxe3, which white might miss (say he played a plausible move like Rc1.) Actually that was one of the points of Ng4 as well, it's just that the white queen was in the way.

So having lost a knight, what to do next? White is one move away from threatening checkmate, but hey, at least if I can get my queen to the long diagonal I can give check. But wait! Qc8 allows a queen exchange. Is there any other way to get there? Ah yes, Qd7! Fischer played it; how bad can it be? I thought for a whole seven seconds about this one.

Is there anything useful to be learned from this? Well, I did win the next game, which is unusual, since I usually blunder pretty consistently once I get into the groove of things. But in the next game, I decided to think really hard, defend against my opponent's threats, and not take account of the clock. And this turned out to be pretty effective since I ended up winning on time, although I did have a lost ending. But a win on time is still as win (see Tip 3.)

So perhaps a good strategy, if you are blundering, is to take extra time to think and forget about the clock. After all, it doesn't matter if you take twenty seconds over a move or if you hang your queen; you lose either way. At least the first way, you will play better chess!

Now here is one way that black could have won the position in the last post.

Any way you look at it, white loses. If he plays f5 at some point, black plays Bxf5 and queens a pawn. And otherwise white cannot stop both the a-pawn and some other pawn. Crafty indeed!

May I share a game I won now, just to prove that losing a pawn in the opening isn't the end of the world?