The Evil of Playing Passively

The Evil of Playing Passively

Sep 19, 2015, 12:52 AM |

In the self discovery that is analysing one's own games, I wrote a blog entry on a loss where I couldn't figure out where I went wrong.


After having the game reviewed by GM Bojkov, I can now see the errors of my ways. This is a breakthrough moment for me. It is not one single move that brings me undone. It is playing passively in endgames when it's not called for.


This is such a great irony, for my middlegame errors are often playing too ambitiously, over reaching/stretching and over extending myself. Then in endgames where I'm slightly worse, I'll "buckle down" and want to play in a fortress like manner. I liken this to a common mistake one sees in online poker touraments (I use to be heavily into 6 max SNGs). Players playing too loose and reckless at the start, and then tigtening up on the bubble.


White to Move.

35. Rc2 was played in the game.


What an eye opener for me! Because of my passive mindset in "defending" the endgame, I never considered active defence of forgoing my c-pawn by activating my Rook with Rd2.
Instead I revereted to playing passively with Rc2 to defend my weakness, only allowing my opponent to strengthen himself.

White to Move.

Hypothetical analysis had I decided to enter into an opposite coloured bishop endgame.


My best choice for equality had indeed been to enter an opposite coloured Bishop endgame. However, once more I hadn't realised my active possibilities as I had only feared his passed Queenside pawns.

White to Move.

48. Rd3 was chosen


When one has psychologically been tortured for so long during a game, they can accept their fate and await what they believe is inevitable.
Here I wanted to stop Black's King's activity and drive him away from my c-pawn. I missed my chance at holding this game because I was fixated on this threats, not seeing I had my own.

Endgame Tactics: Black to Move

I had analysed to this starting position as I thought White could draw by keeping the Black Bishop entombed.
I had missed the tactical idea in my analysis that Black can give up his Bishop and take advantage of White's Bishop position to force a queen.
Thank you GM Bojkov for this idea.

Opening lesson: White to Move


In the game I had played 12. Qe2 but a better plan was 12. Rfe1. White's plan is to prepare e4 whilst Black's is to prepare ... c5
Black mustn't be premature with ... c5 for he may end up with isolated pawn or hanging pawns.
White need not fear runing of his Kingside after ... Bxf3 provided his d-pawn is strongly suppported.
Important in this opening not to allow Black the Bishop pair even if he is a pawn down

Improvement to Avrukh-Pelletier, Biel 1997
The improvement to one of the seed games I looked at, where instead of ... Nf8 (allowing White to gain tempo on g7 with Qg4), Black defends with ... g6 but can stave off the Black Queen with ... h5