# Death by quiescence error

Mar 23, 2016, 8:21 AM |
0
Recently, I played a game that was a bit unusual for me. My opponent made some unexpected choices in the opening, and we ended up in the position shown below. I was immediately tempted to take the knight on c3 and go into a tactical exchange variation. I spent about ten minutes calculating, and arrived at the conclusion that the variation would be good for me (black). Only problem is... I was wrong!
Does Rxc3 work?

Ok, the immediate reaction may be that of course it doesn't work. Black gives up the exchange directly by Rxc3, Qxc3. But there is a follow up. I calculated as far as 16... Nxd1, and thought that after the natural recapture Rxd1, I could take the bishop on d8, and we'd have an endgame where I'd either have a bishop vs knight or a more active rook because of the backward pawn on c2. But white is not forced to recapture on d1 right away. He plays the bishop to safety first, and suddenly I have two pieces hanging (on d7 and d1). I could of course have played on and hoped for a blunder, but I was too upset with my own miscalculation to play on.

So this is a clear example of a quiescence error. I calculated correctly quite far, but did not see the final position clearly, and missed the opportunity for my opponent to move his bishop.
My conclusion is that I have to reproduce Dan Heisman's advice: Calculate until the position reaches a state of quiet (quiescence).

You can read a more detailed account of Dan's advice about this in his Novice nook column, no. 55. Here, I have 'borrowed' a little quote:
 In general you should stop your analysis if: The sacrifice isn’t calculable and your judgment says the sacrifice is worth it (or not), The reward becomes less than the risk, or  There are no more checks, captures, and threats and you end up behind in material.

I broke the rules and paid the price. The next time, I will remember this, and not go into a mirky variation.
You can also learn more about quiescence errors here on the site. The following videos are quite instructional.

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