Portrait of the Chess Player as a Young Loser
I play unrated chess because I am scared to lose rating points. I have over 7,000 bullet, and 3,000 blitz games. Atleast 85% were unrated, maybe more. It's as if my height is messured in ELO rather than inches: too many losses and I won't be able to reach the pieces any longer. So quick am I to plug my latest nifty combination into an engine and bask in the glory. I look at my loses too... Sometimes. I played too quickly. I didn't know that opening. I wasn't paying attention. So easy to write off a loss and decide its not worth my time to review. I've created a whole system to protect myself from the pangs of loss, and up to now, it has worked great. There are just two nagging problems:
- There are no unrated OTB tournaments
- My rating just feels hollow
I vow from this moment forward to never play another unrated game ever again.
And that's where this blog comes into play. I am going to chronicle every sad loss along the way. Oh yeah, and we're going to look at puzzles I bungled as well. Never shall you see a braggart, but no longer will I be a coward. Instead I'll be a humble losser, and in this way we'll see what kind of a chess player I really am, and maybe we'll all learn something along the way.
Without further adieu, I present Portrait of the Chess Player as a Young Loser:
Defeat of the Day
I'll start off with a quick defeat at the hands of one of my least favorite openings: The Ablin Countergambit:
Black got everything he could want out of the Albin: Quick development, followed by the old "sac sac mate" routine.
Let's have a look at a game where white actually appears to know what he is doing!
A very nice game by white showing typical Ablin Counter Gambit middle game play with opposite side castling. In comparison, it's clear that Stig Lundholm understood the danger of Black's development and quickly castled to start his own play on the queenside. 7.g3 and 11.Ra2 were both very instructive moves indeed. My biggest failing here, I believe, was lazy calcultion and just assuming capitulation from my opponent.
Today's Tactical Trouble
I feel I have pretty strong tactical skills. I'm currently at 2307 on chess.com and have been over 2300 on other chess sites as well. But just like in my online games, I've gotten to where I like to sit on my rating and mainly solve unrated. Not any more.... I'll still have to do some unrated tactical problems because I like to build custom problem sets, but I'm going to a do at least 3 rated problems per day and I will share the failures with you here on my blog so you can gloat when you prove the better tactician!
Today's puzzle is rated 2093, and is one of those puzzles where is appears there are two ways to achieve the same result. I failed to claculate what the difference was and ultimately choose the wrong path.
I had seen that both Be5 and Qg3+ appeared to work, but instead of calculating the difference, I just choose the Queen check because I assumed it was more forcing and I wouldn't have to worry about any surprising queen threats. Little did I know, that is was the bishop I should be afraid of!
I am starting to see a trend already of failing due to lazy calculating habits both in my games and in puzzles. I know I prefer to make the move that feels right and not look at too many variations.
Here is my plan to combat the problem: Two books on dynamic play both of which are very challenging for me since I can't rely on intuition to find the correct move:
- Art of Attack in Chess: Vladimir Vukovic - A classic that I have dabbled in, but have never seriously studied all the way through.
- Giants of Power Play: Neil McDonald - I really like this book and strongly recommend it. As a side note, Giants of Strategy also by Neil McDonald is very good as well.
Lastly, I've been playing some blindfold games here on chess.com. Amazingly, this has gone very well for me (I recently had a 66 move blind victory), and clearly I can't be a lazy calculator when I can't see the pieces!
Signing off now. I hope you've all learned something and feel a little better about your own loses, or maybe even recognized a simliar weakness in your own game. I'll see you next time, until then, All the best!