Blundering away winning positions

Mar 9, 2010, 12:08 AM |

I post here my two most recent OTB tournament games. They have very little in common as far as gameplay... one is a French, the other a Scotch gambit. One is a middle/endgame with RRN vs. RBBN, one is a four rooks endgame. One I play as White, one as Black. In one, the position is unclear for the entire game. The other starts with me clearly not for choice, slowly becoming a won game.

What both these games share is that, near the end of the 90 minute time limit, I lose my nerve. I blunder away both games, one of them a theoretical draw, the other a clearly won position, then a draw, followed by a premature resignation. What I hope to make clear here is that one must be ready to play a game through the entire time control, be in an intense two-minute blitz game online or a 5 hour OTB game.

The first example shows how one can lose focus at the end of a time control... and how a mental exhaustion creates a blindness to threats you aren't looking for.

This second game shows how you can get inside your own head... how you can overstate the mistakes you make. I thought I turned my win into a draw on my 48th move, which DIRECTLY affected my ACTUALLY turning the win into a draw on my 53rd move, which had a direct affect on my perceiving myself lost on my 57th move.

So, what to take home from these games?

(1) Ignore rating differences. In these games I played opponents 600-700 points above me, and played them to equal positions. People do not play at the same level everyday, and style differences count for a lot in the game psychology. Don't think yourself lost before the game starts.

(2) Put the past behind you. A blunder two moves ago does not make you lost... and dwelling on your mistakes can easily create more of them. Despair feeds on despair, and things may not be as awful as they seem...

(3) Play through the end. Be prepared to play the entire 3-4-5 hour game. Take breaks if you must, but make sure every move is safe. Always consider the opponent's next move, and why he made the last one. Don't rush just because you have less time than your opponent, or because you have single digit minutes left on your clock. Ten minutes is longer than it seems, and one bad move will end your game much faster than a 5 minute think into combinations.

Good luck to all. May you learn from my mistakes.