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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Some Typical Errors

      I recently played 5 online games against a player rated 1700 on the site. I’m not sure what his real strength would be, but he lost all 5 games and made a lot of typical mistakes. They weren’t all tactical though. After losing a couple games to tactical blunders he tried a positional approach but still lost because he made the mistake of allowing me more space and control of the only open file. I thought it would be interesting to see a couple of his typical mistakes.

      In this position which we arrived at after some inaccurate play by both sides, we have a common situation where one side has a B and N vs. a R. The question is always which is better? In the opening the two pieces are normally worth a R and 2P’s while in the ending the superiority of the B and N over the R is less pronounced.

      Here the P’s are equal so things balance out. For example, if you examine an ending with a R vs. B and N, it is a draw. Give the 2 pieces a P and they win. Give the R a P and it’s still a draw. You may want to play around with these positions at the Shredder endgame database.
      In this position White sensed the danger from all of Black’s pieces aimed at his K and realized a sacrifice was in the air so he decided to defend his g-Pawn with: 24.Kh2 but still fell victim to the sacrifice. 24.f4 is a typical defense seen in these types of positions, but it doesn’t work here. After 24…Nxg3 25.Qg2 Qa7 26.Qxg3 Bxf4 White loses because of the double attack and pin on his e-Pawn. 24...Nxg3 Anyway! 25.fxg3 Rh4+ utilizing the pin on the g-Pawn to get the R into the attack. White gets mated because of his weakness on the long diagonal.

      24.Rd1 was best because Black has no immediate win. The reason is because there is no pin on the g-Pawn and so no way to get the R into play on the h-file. Houdini gives Black an advantage of 2 and one half P's here (personally I'm not so sure this is the case), but it will take GM technique to exploit it. If White had not walked into the pin on his g-Pawn then 24...Nxg3 25.fxg3 Rh4 isn't playable because there is no pin.
      Finally…in this position

White tried to launch a K-side attack before completing his development and castling with 8.Qh4 and after 8…h6 he sacrificed a piece with 9.Bxh6 Even backing down with 9.Bf4 fails because his B which is guarding c2 is undefended so after 9…Nb4 he will lose the exchange. 9...Nb4 Capturing the B allows White a perpetual check 10.Be2 Nc2+ 11.Kf1 Nxa1 Black is up the exchange. However it turned out that I actually missed the best line because I could have safely taken the B on move 11 and then capture the a1 R.
      Once again, you need to know tactics, but more than that, you need to realize when they are afoot and when they aren’t! In the first position White did not realize the value of 2 pieces vs. a R and under what circumstances the different combination of pieces are better. In the second position he tried launching an attack before completing his development, disregarded the B on d3 that was left hanging and he did not understand the prerequisites for a successful K-side attack of the type he was trying to conduct.      
      Two books would help:  The Art of Attack in Chess  by Vukovic and Attack with Mikhail Tal.


  1. I have worked my way through The Art of The Checkmate and know that at some point I need to dive into a good book on attacks.

    Of the two listed in this post (Vukovic or Tal) Which one do you think is best for a class C player to learn from?


  2. Tough call! The Tahl book is a rather slim volume and contains a lot of nuggets of advice, but the Art of Attack covers a wider variety of positions and goes in to more detail. A lot of Tahl’s sacrifices were intuitive and by his own admission less than sound which makes them difficult to explain. I would lean more towards the Art of Attack. However one caveat: the book is on tactics and was written before computers so it does contain some errors in analysis. I would play over the games using an engine just to make sure the author didn’t miss anything.

    Don't forget to play over lots and lots of master games after you finish the book. You'll find your rating inching towards 2000!

  3. Thanks for the recommendation! I am going to put Art of Attack on my list.

    AND I LOVE playing over master games!! That is one of my favorite parts of studying chess.

    So far my favorite games collection is either Fischer's, Marshall's or Tal's book on his first match with Botvinnik.

  4. If you like Marshall and Tahl you will also like Nezhmetdinov!

  5. Your advice is really worth, and after a long time missing I played a couple of games at FICS using the Eboard UCI. And I'm sticking to your guidelines on how to improve at chess.

    Chess is such a kind of layers of knowledge, it's hard work, but it has a lot of fun too. I think ( at least at this time ) that chess is 99% pattern recognition, subconscious work, so playing over master games over the board, and trying to guess the moves is a good approach to learn the core principles.

    Well, this is the game I played, so I'd be glad to hear your comments. I'm playing white. Here it is :

    [Event "ICS Unrated Chess Match"]
    [Site "?"]
    [Date "2011.02.20"]
    [Round "?"]
    [White "docetrago"]
    [Black "GuestYVCJ"]
    [WhiteElo "1202"]
    [TimeControl "600+12"]
    [Result "1-0"]

    1. d4 c5 2. d5 e5 3. e4 Nf6 4. Bg5 d6 5. c4 Nbd7 6. Qb3 Be7 7. Nd2 h6 8. Bxf6
    Nxf6 9. Qg3 Nh5 10. Qf3 Nf4 11. g3 Ng6 12. Qa3 Bg5 13. Ndf3 O-O 14. h4
    Be7 15. h5 Nh8 16. Bh3 f5 17. exf5 Bxf5 18. Bxf5 Rxf5 19. g4 Rf4 20. Nh3
    Rxg4 21. Rg1 Rxc4 22. Rxg7+ Kxg7 23. Qd3 Qa5+ 24. Nd2 Rd4 25. Qg3+ Kh7
    26. b4 Qxb4 27. Rb1 Qxd2+ 28. Kf1 Bh4 29. Rxb7+
    {GuestYVCJ resigns} 1-0

  6. This game appears quite well played but Black’s loss is unfortunate because he was winning! I think you may have started going astray by weakening your K-side with 19.g4 instead of 19.Ng2 so as to meet 19…Qf8 with 20.f3. After that the game looks fairly equal and it might have been possible to castle Q-side then start throwing pieces against his K. It doesn’t look like occupying the f-file really accomplishes much for Black then because your K appears quite safe. Of course Black also has plenty of defenders around his K so chances are probably about equal.

    Black might have done better with 20.Rxc4 because then White’s d and g Pawns are both weak. The R sac on move 22 was worth a shot especially in a blitz game even though the chances of success were remote and I especially liked 26.b4 because it opened up the b-file allowing the possibility of penetrating with the R. Therefore 26…cxb4 keeping the file closed and attacking the d-Pawn would have been better. Unfortunately 28…Bh4 lost immediately because it allowed the R into play with a check. 28...Qxa2 would have won because 29.Rxb7 is not possible owing to 29...Qa6+ picking off the R. After 28…Qxa2 White would have been down heavy plastic and out of attacking ideas.

    The critical point was after 28.Kf1. Black made the natural assumption is that an attacked piece must move but that is not always the case as here. Following the advice to always scan ranks, files and diagonals after you opponent’s move and before you move coupled with Purdy’s advice to (among other things) examine all checks would probably have made the R check on b7 obvious. In any case alert play in setting Black up by some tricky tactical play!