And now, the Newb presents... Losing

Feb 21, 2014, 9:28 AM |

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I passed an important milestone the other day - my 100th defeat!

Unless you're one of those expert level players that continually creates new accounts so that they can ambush lower rated players - you've lost a chess game.

Through my exhaustive research, I've found four ways to lose.

1) In the opening
The Game Explorer should prevent this kind of loss but sometimes I'm smarter than the G.E. Sometimes I misjudge my jumping off point from the main line and jump directly into the trap that the main line was avoiding. D'oh!

2) In the middle game
This is my favorite way to lose. I lose a minor piece to a tactic that I didn't forsee and then I begin to see that the end is near. I go down a pawn, OK. Down two pawns; I need to do something about that. Down two pawns and a Knight; this isn't fun anymore. Let's play DiceWars.

3) In the endgame
These are "good games". There was lots of play. There were chances. I'll have a nice lengthy commentary of all my mistakes when I run the computer analysis. There's no shame in losing an endgame.

4) Blunders
Blunders can occur at any point in the game. I have made blunders that made me question the existence of an orderly universe. How can I manage to drive home to the correct apartment every day when I'm not capable of seeing that I will lose my Queen if I move it next to that enemy Rook?

Blunders seem to happen the most in games that I'm winning and games against under-rated opponents. I seldom blunder in games that I play against 1800+ opponents when it takes me 2 days to work out my move on a physical board with my wife offering helpful analytics like, "Bishops move diagonally, honey." I don't often win but I don't blunder much. In fact, I'm amazed at how long I can stay in those games when 1200 rated players are killing me in the opening.

I think it's about focus. When you're winning, or you think you're winning, you don't take the time to double check your moves. You make what looks like a good move and move on to the next game. Your mindset is that if it wasn't a great move, you'll fix it later. I mean, what are they going to do? They're down by 5 points, or rated 200 points below you, or whatever.

When you revisit the game, you've lost your Queen and your mind. You look for the "take back" button. It's not there. You look for the "resign" button. It is there. It makes the pain go away and you swear you'll never play like that again.

So, now you've fixed the problem. You'll never blunder again. After about 10 minutes, you're complacent again. And here it comes...

After the second blunder of the night, things get weird. You trust nothing. You crawl away from the computer because you don't trust that you really have feet. You're wife stares at you. Or is that just who she says she is? Maybe you blundered into the wrong wedding all those years ago. How can someone who loses in 4 moves be trusted to find the right church?

Luckily, the men in white coats will be there soon to take you to a place where you'll have plenty of time to improve your game.