I'm Scared of Ghosts ... Chess Ghosts

I'm Scared of Ghosts ... Chess Ghosts

Apr 14, 2016, 6:07 AM |

I'm scared of Ghosts ... Chess Ghosts!


That's a pretty embarassing statement to make, but hopefully the first step in recognising I have a problem.


I've seen this theme in half a dozen games of mine. A typicaly scenario will be that my opponent makes a threat which I recognise. I acknowledge it's a real threat and then I will retreat and play passively. In doing so, I fail to see the resources in my position. That I can ignore his threat, and execute a threat of my own. This may be due to laziness of not looking hard enough. More so, it may not even be a Chess related weakness but a psychological one.


The situation reminds me of when I read Jeremy Silman's excellent book "The Amateurs Mind". I recall he writes down the thoughts of 1500 rated players in evaluating a position. "I'm worried he may do this, I'm worried he may do that ...". I recall at the time thinking it was absurd the ghosts that these players are seeing. That is until I realised that I am seeing them to.

I was playing on the White side of a London System when I saw my latest ghosts. But first, let me show you how the position arose in obtaining an advantage.

My opponent has just played 17. ... Rc8. I immediately felt something wasn't right with this move, as it would leave an undefended Bishop on c8 after the exchange of Rooks.

Furthermore, the White Queen can combine with the Bishop to attack h7 via Qc2.

So after 18. Rxc8 Bxc8 19. a3 Nd5 20. Qc2 then h7 falls with clear advantage to White.

Paralysed by Ghosts

White is up a pawn and Black has just played 23. ... Qc6.

I acknowledged that Black has serious threats. Multiple ones. He's creating a battery at g2 and preparing a discovered attack after his Knight moves.

He's also threatening Qc1+ and winning the White Bishop.

I recall during the game that I was engrossed in how to parry all these threats. I did see I can play 24. Qh8+ and win the g-pawn, but didn't "bother" to look further given subconciously I felt I had to deal with the Black threats. A classic case of stopping "half a move short" in calculation.

Paralysed with fear, I retreated 24. Qc2. Black played 24. ... Nc3! and after exchanging on b1 I didn't have realistic chances to win and had to accept a draw.

Believe in Yourself ... See the Resources you Have

I failed to see that I could simply land the first decisive blow. The calculation is not difficult. More so, it's a state of mind. It's about being objective, not being pessimistic or optimistic. This is a trait I must strive for.

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