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The next to last mistake

Nietsoj
Jun 22, 2015, 7:56 AM 0

I read a passage in Jeremy Silman's book The amateur's mind where he states that "the winner is the player who makes the next to last mistake". The meaning is that the loser is the one who makes the last mistake of the game. However, Silman's phrasing is slightly inaccurate. A player can make the next to last mistake as well as the last mistake. So, I would rather say that the winner is the next to last player to make a mistake.

Regardless of my semantic analyses, the game below is an example of exactly what Silman is on about. His point is that players at the novice level make a lot of mistakes. We blunder, and our opponents blunder back. In the game below, the first mistake comes already on move 3.

Black made an opening boo-boo
Although I did not notice the possibilities against d5 on move 4, it started to come to my attention ever so slowly. As the game continued, the pressure against d5 became an issue. Eventually, the pawn fell, and white could pocket some material.


Although white has just won a pawn, his queen is awkwardly placed. The retreat to a4 seems only natural, but it gives black the chance of a deadly continuation.

Can you find black's deadly combination?

Luckily, my opponent did not see this opportunity, and I was allowed to stay in the game. The game continued, and we came to another critical junction. Here, black did not miss any hidden threat, but rather misjudged the situation and trusted his intuition rather than his calculating skills. 

Black is about to make a decisive mistake

The game went on, but it did not seem like black had sufficient compensation for the sacrificed material. There were some opportunities for the white side 
to make mistakes, but things did not go as black had hoped.

Black is all tied up

From this point on, it seemed that black had already given up. So the game finished in a thematic fashion, with massive sacrifices. Once again, I was given opportunities to go wrong, but I did not bite. As far as I can see, my opponent was the player to make the last mistake, and thereby, I won the game. However, I missed a serious threat and could just as easily have walked away from the game with a zero on my scoresheet. 
Just because I won, I am not happy with the way I played. 

If you spot any other mistakes made by myself or my opponent, please feel free to share your thoughts. All comments are appreciated.

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