Sunday, September 21, 2008

How to lose a won game

Hi Pilgrims,

Sometimes you play chess really well. Your positional feeling and strategy are so profound, you start to think that maybe you're actually a good player instead of an average trooper making up the numbers. Then your play goes off the rails – you lose the intensity, the tactics overwhelm you. Maybe your mental energy flags or you just ain't that good. The won position becomes dubious then is lost. What happened?

Firstly, the game is never over until the fat lady cries 'I resign!' You have to find a way of maintaining your energy level and attentiveness. If time allows, take a short break from thinking – easier in correspondence or server chess. If not, just talk inwardly to yourself. When you find your thoughts wandering, it's a warning signal to your mind, and talking to yourself can help you to stay focused or recover intensity.

Secondly, the bunny rules are critical (see earlier postings), to which you can now add the new bunny rule I enunciate in the notes to the game below. The content of chess is mainly tactics. Sure, it's built upon positional ideas and strategic thinking, but most of the moves in a game are a product of tactical thinking which is required to meet or implement ideas. The bunny rules help you to manage 'the business of chess'.

Thirdly, chaos happens. The best laid plans of mice and men are as nothing in the torrential flows of an erupting entropy. Wow, I like the sound of that. It seems to be saying something profound but I can't quite work out what that is. Anyway, you are not the master of the universe or even a game of chess. There are the guy or gal sitting opposite you, trying their best to stuff your game up. Then there are your human limitations – even chess-players whose name starts with a K have their limitations. So sometimes you will make errors and get belted in a game. Sometimes it will happen to that masterpiece, which in your innocence, you imagine you are creating. Bummer!

Learn the lesson and don't let it happen again.

The game I am presenting to you dear reader (please print it out; copy and paste it or whatever; never mind saving the trees – this is chess!) is the last in the informal match between Tayhk of Singapore and my good self from Melbourne in Oz. It is game 24, and with it, my opponent managed to square the match at 9 wins each with 6 draws. We played fighting chess all the way. We have now begun our second series of 24 games.

Tayhk V The Palooka (that's me folks)

The opening is a 'funny English'.

1. c4 c5 2. d4 (This is a weak attempt to be clever which backfires and he loses a Pawn for dubious compensation) cxd4 3. Nf3 e5! 4. e3 (If 4. Nxe5 Qa5+) dxe3 5. Bxe3 Nc6 6. Nc3 Nf6 7. Be2 d6 8. h3 (A useful prophylaxis; Black just develops) Be7 9. a3 (But this is too much prohylaxis and wastes time while creating a weakness which will later be exploited) O-O 10. Qc2 d5 (Black decides to simplify and with this small combination he returns the Pawn for a positional plus. The immortal Capablanca used to do this, and the chessically limited and very mortal Eraclides tries the stratagem as well, and for a change, gets it right) 11. cxd5 Nxd5 12. Nxd5 Qxd5 13. Rd1 Qa5+ 14. Bd2 Qc5 15. Bc3 Nd4 (This was the idea and Black's two Bishops become dominant) 16. Nxd4 exd4 17. Rxd4 Be6 18. Bd3 h6 19. Be4 Rac8! (White's Queen side is weak due to his indiscretion on move 9; Black threatens Bf6) 20. Rd1 (20. Bxb7 Rc7 and Qxd4 or just Qxd4 straight away) Qb5 21. Qd3 (He has to get away from the Rc8 and the hovering threats such as Bb3; if 21. Bd3 Bb3 is safe enough, but better for maintaining pressure would be Qg5 or Qb6. Note that even with 21. Bd3 Bb3 22. BxQ BxQ 23. Rc1 Bb3 Black has the threats of a6 to drive the Bishop away and Bf6 or g5 with Re8+ among other threats; in this line if 23. Rd2 Bb3 24. 0-0 a6 is good for Black with the threat of Bxa3. All of this because of White's time wasting) Bc4 22. Qg3 Qg5! (23. Qxg5 is good for Black: Bxg5 and Bxb7 is refuted by any Re8++. White is desperate to get some King safety and complete his development. Steinitz used to delay his castling because of positional considerations; he was also Steinitz, not Tayhk or Eraclides) 23. Bd3 Qxg3 24. fxg3 Bb3 (Black is winning) 25. Rd2 (25. Rc1 Bg5 or 25. Rb1 Bxa3; either way a Pawn is lost; if 25. Bf5 Rce8 26. Bd7 Rd8 and the exposed check is too dangerous) Bxa3 26. O-O (Better late than never but at what a cost) Bc5+ 27. Kh2 Rcd8 (Black is a well deserved Pawn up and now tries to use the themes of pin and Bishop attack on the Rooks to gain even more. This is based on the principle that when your opponent is drowning, you throw him an anvil. White copes well with all the pressure) 28. Rf3 Be6 29. b4 Bb6 30. Be4 Rxd2 31. Bxd2 Rd8 32. Rd3 Rxd3 33. Bxd3 Bd4 (f5 was worth a try to restrict the White Bishops) 34. Bf4 (Be4 was an option) Bd5 (Centralization, a Bishop swap, and the capture of the b4 Pawn are elements of the plan) 35. b5 (Worth consideration was Bd6) Kf8 36. g4 Ke7 37. h4 Be6 38. Kg3 Bd5 39. h5 Ke6 40. Kh3 Ke7 41. g3 Be6 42. Kh4 Bc8 43. Bd2 Kd6 44. g5 hxg5+ 45. Kxg5 Kc5 46. Kf4 Be6 47. g4 f6 (47...Bc4 was possibly better but I was worried about White being able to win or draw the game after 48. Bxc4 Kxc4 49. Ke4 Bf6 (best) 50. g5 (best) Be7 51. h6 gxh6 52. gxh6 Bf6 53. h7 Kxb5 54. Bg5 B moves 55. Bf4 or Kf5 and White will break the diagonal with his Bishop. Thus I preferred to strengthen my position and minimize counter-play. Alas, dear reader, I go astray, as you shall see) 48. Bc1 (It's a game of diagonal control and White is losing his grip on the position. He hopes to play Ba6+ and Bf8 but he doesn't get a chance. It's hard to find an alternative for him. After f6 Black threatened a series of checks which would improve his position anyway) Be5+ 49. Kf3 Kd4 50. Be2 Bd5+ 51. Kf2 Kc3 52. Ba3 Bd4+ 53. Ke1 Be3 (It's hard to believe that Black could lose from here but he does. A win or draw should have been his reward) 54. Bf8 Bh6 55. Bc5 b6 56. Bd6 Bc4 57. Bb8 Bxe2 58. Kxe2 Kc4 59. Bxa7 Kxb5 60. Kd3 Bf4? (Pointless as Black's strategy in trying to imprison the enemy Bishop is wrong. Better Kc6 and if Black can't get his Queen-side Pawn going he can at least get his King over to attack the White Pawns which can only be defended by the King. For intance, after 61 Bf8 Kd5 62. Bg3 b5 White has run out of ideas and Black will win) 61. Ke4 Be5? (61...Bh6 and reverting to the above idea was correct) 62. g5! (This was the move I missed. I have previously written about the 'bunny rules' which all players should adopt; to them you can add: check all pawn advances!) Bd6 63. gxf6 Bf8 (Perhaps no better was 63...gxf6 64. h6 Bf8 64. h7 Bg8 65. Kf5 wins; the Bishop will be drawn away or lost and the Pawn will Queen e.g. if Kc6 then Bb8 intending Bf4/h6 or any other similar plan depending on what Blak does with his King and b Pawn) 64. f7 Kc6 65. Bb8 Kd7 66. Kf5 Ke7 67. Kg6 b5 68. Be5 b4 69. Bxg7 b3 70. h6 (Not 70. Bxf8 Kxf8 71. h6 b2 73. h7 b1=Q+ and wins. How dangerous are endgames!?) Ke6 71. h7 Bxg7 72. Kxg7 b2 (There's nothing else left but a few petty moves continued by Black due to his shock at losing a 'won game') 73. f8=Q b1=Q 74. Qf7+ Kd6 75. Qg6+ Qxg6+ 76. Kxg6 Kc5 77. h8=Q 1-0

Thus the final score in the first series of 24 games was:
The Palooka 9 : 9 Tayhk (Draws: 6)

The new rule to always consider is: check all Pawn advances.
The battle continues.
See you next time pilgrims.