Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Me and my once a week OTB friend were playing some interesting chess- both out of element in an obscure and crazy answer to 1.e4.

Lets just say that my answer to e4 has been and will be the French. But just for practice sake; I agreed to deviate from my standard repertoire.  My opponent for his part did no better reacting poorly with pawns.   Eventually I get to the position below;  it is a complex position of pins and the engine says that e5 was a mistake and I can gain a piece by carefully pressuring the pin.

It is in this position that we got into a passionate debate.  White (me) is gunning for a stranded king and is sure that escalating piece moves that checkmate or a disastrous loss of material is inevitable.  On the other hand; blacks demise is far from clear.  Blacks pieces are strong and the double pawn was a definite asset against a efile pin.

Blacks theory is interesting; and my OTB friend now plays off this one idea….

Look at what your opponent is trying to do, and thwart him.  Waiting for the opportunity to gain counterplay when his idea is frustrated.

In short my opponent believes in beating me with my own ideas. He sees chess as far more psychological that I do—He advocates studying an opponents eyes.   The game cooperates with him for a while.  With some inaccurate play on my side, he works his work through the pin on efile, eventually gaining a defensive double pawn that becomes a real problem for the remainder of the game and gaining of counterplay on the queenside.  Bent on checkmate, I hang a piece, trying to bottle up his king.  This game is definitely going his way.   We get to the position below. 


His prospects are definitely better and he is clearly on the verge of grasping an initiative- with moves like Bxg2 and then perhaps big trades that get rid of my fairy tale checkmate.  For my part, I have no prospect of tactical play, I have given a piece in the hopes to make a Re3-Rd1 sequence work.

I don’t know if he is still playing by reading my eyes, or has a moment of passive fear, but Bxe4 is a pretty bad move.  It is the the very kind of pin I have been looking for all along.  So, yet black blundered.

My OTB friend is pretty upset.  He agonizes and then, concedes the whole game.  I try to point out that after the retreat Kd7; the game is far from over.  But he is upset and his fighting spirit is gone.  It casts an interesting question upon his psychological game.

Is it possible that the peril of playing against the opponent is that you can demoralized, when you cannot defeat your opponents idea?   Killing the bishop allows white to crumple the center and sets blacks position into retreat.  Perhaps the thought of what to do once white has chased the black king out of the center was too much.  I know for a fact that a huge streak of losing has badly demoralized my opponent.  He has played and lost each week for something like 10 games strait.  I think an inevitable feeling of defeat has strained the gamesmanship of our weekly game.  it is one thing to fight against my gaze when the position offers counter-play and stiff defense.  It was apparently too demoralizing once the king was in full retreat.

I do not believe my friend is right.  I don’t see chess as a fight between me and my opponents ideas.  Instead I see chess a fundamental struggle to see the truth; and both players have an equal responsibility to understand what is and what is not equal in every move.  Both players will likely fall short of understanding key weaknesses in their own choices.  
Once a weakness occurs- that side must carefully not allow their moves to give the opponent an opportunity to win material or deeper positional advantages. But their opponent must still have the wit to seize the advantage.

Both sides have clearly misplayed the opening.  Nevertheless; while white is far from victorious; black clearly has the greater weakness as his king is exposed and his options are limited.   Whites clearly is given a chance when blacks king become involved in the Nf6 pin.  Unfortunately, white does not capitalize on this weakness, and after some piece development whites weaknesses have grown and are more evident.  Losing a piece to an imaginary checkmate that white never had only creates more weakness in white positions.   It is whites queens side that is not strong.   After the blacks blunder… Black will have to give way, but in mind it is not so clear who will win.  Once blacks king runs away from the center; the game is close to equal.  Black I think ought to aim for a big exchange especially if he is able to grab some pawns.

I don’t necessarily know that my idea of chess is better-perhaps my constant fixation at attacking enemy weakness causes a bit of blindness when it comes to downsides of my own oftentimes-too-aggressive play;  but I think it is cheap and ineffective to play against someone’s gaze and poor tactical advice to only concern yourself with what the opponent is trying to do.  Tactics oftentimes amaze and astound us.  How many times has someone been forked because they were fixated in their attack or so distracted by some kind of subtle pawn position and been blown away with a basic sac and mate?

Of course its not QUITE fair to extend our debate into the blogosphere  (and to illustrate it with a blunder!), and I do admit he has a point.  The aim of the blog isn’t quite so much to win the debate, as to reason through my position.  The title of the blog is meant to convey the main theme; which is that psychology can be used, not so much to merely ‘beat’ the opponent , but to create strength and confidence in your attack.

I also believe it is Very instructive, and good for your whole improvement program to become interested in.. no obsessed with chess weakness….  Both exploiting your opponents and minimizing your own.   I think it is instructive to try to understand the game in the perspective of weaknesses; and what opportunities and mistakes were missed.  

I hope my sparring partner bounces back a little.  I think I’ve won too many times, and his losing has become something of a self-fulfilling prophesy.  The PC says I played that game pretty  badly, so I think if he were to be confident and determined he might win some of these games.

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