Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Coaching Session with IM Frizz

Yesterday I discussed some of my Winterthur Chess Week Open games OTB with IM Frizz, current leader at CTS. Very instructive. My goal was to find out not just where I or my opponents missed better moves, but to find out why I play weak moves. In particular, if there is a systematic false thinking that leads to the same mistakes over and over again. And yes, we found out seven mistakes of a higher order. So the session was worth the money. Of course I cannot afford to hire a coach over a longer period of time, but I hope that I can get enough from this crash course to help myself getting better in the future.

1. Overprevention against Knight Pin to the Queen
Playing h3 to prevent this pin does not fit my gambit style. Loses too much time. Pin can be allowed and countered by queen attack moves. No fear of doubling the f-pawn. Opens g-file for rook attack. Black's attack vs the open castle can be met in most cases. Same motif when I play black, for example in a Guoco Pianissimo.

2. Overprotection against Bishop destroying castle
More than once I moved Nh2/h7 to prevent a B sacrifice for 2 pawns. This was over-cautious because the sac would have been unsound. The prevention resulted in ugly postions with zero activity, once I won only because my opponent did not punish it, and once I lost. Such passive knight moves should only be played to prevent mate. Better to allow a sacrifice and try to refute it, even if some of these games may be lost. The losing rate of passive, cramped games will be much higher.

3. Playing book moves when out of book
I missed opportunities to win Pawns or even Pieces only because I continued to play ┬źnormal┬╗ moves that would have been fine in a normal book line. But my opponents had left the book before. This would have required me to take a new, fresh look at the position. This is a new game, boy! So forget about your book! Look for tactics! Take some extra time on your clock!

4. Fear of fast lane to the endgame
My dream is always to win by tactics in the middlegame. So I hesitate to expose my pieces, especially bishops and the queen, to be traded away. This is ok so far. But it is not ok to do so by making passive moves. I must take this as a rule: Better a trade than a passive move! I must follow this rule strictly until I begin to lose games, and then learn the exceptions. But I doubt that this rule will cost me many games.

5. Chasing opponent pieces to better squares
Very frequent in my games. If ever a hostile piece appears in my territory, I feel compulsed to chase it away, even at the cost of pawn weaknesses or worsening of my own pieces or losing tempo. I do this even before I ask myself if the hostile piece is really a threat. And I do not ask myself if the piece, after being chased away, has gained tempo for a better attack.

6. Unsafe King in an open Q+R endgame
I lost a drawn endgame by taking a pawn with my King instead of searching a dry hidden place. IM Frizz told me that not even grandmasters can calculate all checks and threats in such positions, and that winning material was definitely the wrong strategy. I should not worry having lost the endgame even if the computer rates it as drawn. The fault was taking the pawn.

7. Passive King in a N+P endgame
I was a pawn down and moved my N away from a good post in search of a tactic. Very complicated, but still a draw with best play. I did not play best and lost. Instead, I had better and safer drawing chances by activating my King, being the worst placed of all my pieces and pawns. So simple. In a similar N endgame, also a pawn down, I activated my King properly and got a draw.


At 10:04 PM, Blogger Pawn Sensei said...

Very informative post. I have been contemplating point 1 myself lately. At my level the Bishop pin shows up at least once, if not more, in every game I play. I too am working on not chasing with h3 but it's hard to break that habit. It just seems so natural.


At 11:25 AM, Blogger Mousetrapper said...

The bad habit is not chasing the Bishop, but playing h3 before it can show up at g4. Chasing is not bad in many cases.


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