"Chess is ruthless: you've got to be prepared to kill people" - Nigel Short

"Chess is ruthless: you've got to be prepared to kill people" - Nigel Short

Jan 9, 2016, 8:04 PM |

Analysing your own games provides the self reflection to pin point the critical moment you missed, and honestly ask yourself ... why? You may get away with such "mistakes" to a certain level, but the stronger the opponent you face ... you may never get another chance.






This is the title to Chapter 4 of Andrew Soltis' excellent book "What it Takes to become a Chess Master". He highlights a major difference between masters and amateurs.

"Masters want more out of a position. They try to win - and find ways to win - positions that seem unlikely to be winnable." - Andrew Soltis


In self annotating this game where I was White and won, I found I missed this critical moment to seize a big advantage.

Critical Moment: White to Move


I recognised White has pressure on the Queenside, and a lead in development. I played 13. Qb3 with a plan to build pressure with Rfc1 to follow. If I have to be honest with myself, I played mechanically and routinely ... I did not seek "more". I was not ruthless enough, and merely coasted with developing automatically.

Seizing the initiative: White to Move

One can calculate up to here, where White exploits the absence of Black's light squared Bishop. It was Fritz that highlighted the next move to me, which I had to replay a few times to convince myself. Yes, tactics flow from a good position. 
See if you can solve the following.

White to Move
A fantastic thematic pawn break, but logically flows from the position as Black's King is trapped in the centre.

Destruction of the Centre
This was another instructive moment I missed. Thematic desruction of Black's centre by a clearance sacrifice. Suddenly White's pieces come alive. This shows me that I don't appreciate the "dynamic" qualities of piece activity as much, and is an area I should aim to improve.

Euwe's Retreating Queen move
I was very happy to find this move during the game. Black has just played 20. ... Nf4 threatening a fork with Ne2.
Retreating Queen moves (a speciality of Euwe) can be the hardest to find, for it is somewhat unnatural to go backwards. My first instinct was to play Kf1, but this was too passive.

My Game Annotations and Analysis
Overall I was happy with my play in this game, particularly with being able to switch back to the Kingside after preparing expansion of the Queenside. Will need to improve on recognising the critical moments of the game, rather than playing routinely through them.

Don't settle to sit on your advantage. Seek moments to go for the kill. Be the first to strike