Two weaknesses Vishy and I have in common.

Aug 12, 2015, 10:00 AM |

1. Vishy doesn't like to play on in a drawn endgame. Magnus exposed this weakness in Vishy's make-up in their first world championship encounter. Well, I have the same problem. In Vishy's case, it is probably a lack of patience. My problem is slightly different. I have absolutely no idea how to go about pawn dominated endgames, and I dither, while my opponents usually move quickly and confidently. This unsettles me all the more, and the equal endgame soon turns into a foregone win for him, usually by queening a pawn. On occasion I have even managed to get mated by a knight or bishop and a couple of pawns, considered an impossibility except with the full cooperation of the opponent.

2. In the last candidates tournament, Vishy agreed to a draw in an endgame where he had an edge in material, but was unhappy with his opponent's "knights jumping about all over the board". True he was already well placed, being in the lead, and probably didn't want to stretch himself unnecessarily for a hard-fought win, but as far as his views on knights are concerned, I couldn't agree more. There is nothing as unpredictable as a knight on an open board with a few pawns and a couple of pieces. What's worse, some players positively relish knight endgames, and are full of ideas, and in my case, sooner or later, it turns into a rout.

Whenever either  of the above two situations occur on the board, I feel a distinct uneasiness, and stop playing spontaneously, taking longer and longer to make my moves. Quite frankly, I panic. It is a completely different me compared to how I play the earlier part of the game, when the board is crowded and things don't happen quite so fast; my opponent has to outplay me to get the edge.

I am now taking the lead from Vishy. He worked on his problems and gave a much better fight to Magnus the second time around. Well, I'm off chess until I have licked my weaknesses too, and when I return, there will be no cakewalks all over me for knights, or enemy pawns getting queened without having to fight every inch of the way.