Losing a Won Game
Of all the different kinds of mistakes in Chess, losing a won game is undoubtedly the most exasperating. No other mistake is more likely to rob you of self-confidence. Some players, when they have an advantage in material, seek complications instead of exchanging fiercely. As the game simplifies, the material advantage becomes more telling. Complications just give the prospective loser a chance to turn the tables.
A fault shared by many players is the habit of drifting aimlessly once they have achieved a winning position. Like the man who can't bring himself to say goodbye, they dawdle and delay, seemingly unable to bring the game to a successful conclusion. Even great Masters have suffered from this affliction. Quite different, but equally unsuccessful, is the player who gives way to despair all too soon. He may even go so far as to resign in a position where he has a quick forced Mate.
Most of the faults that turns won games into lost ones, are really aspects of character and temperament. To acquire the ability to win won games consistently, you must train yourself to play with determination, to play at all times the best Chess you are capable of and to give equal care to every type of position.
Observe the position below, a Rook up, Black nevertheless finds White's far advanced d-pawn a troublesome enemy to contend with. However, by playing the careful 1...Rd8, Black can consolidate his position and eventually win the game. Note that after 1...Rd8, 2.Qf8+?? will not do; for after 2...Rxf8, White would find to his horror that the contemplated 3.Rxf8 Mate is impossible due to his Rook being pinned at f2. In the actual game, however, Black's move in the diagramed position was:
(Notes by American Chess Legend Fred Reinfeld)