Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The psychology of tactics

Yesterday, again in club championship with Black, I have got on the loser's road with a horrible blunder at move 26, facing a slow and painful death. How long should I struggle for survival? I launched a desperate pawn attack at the kingside, and really, my opponent parried it with a weak Queen move, still up to pawns. This is the position on move 30.

diagram

Black to move: 30.-Qd7(!)

The exclamation mark stands for a good move, and the brackets mean that its goodness is not out of position but of psychology. The d-file has played an important role in this game. My opponent had conquered it in the middlegame with his Rook, gaining a positional advantage and setting me under pressure. Even more, with his Rook he had been harassing my Queen. I immediately saw the pin in the e-file, due to his weak Queen move. I knew that his first intention would be not to give me the d-file back, and to harass my Queen once more. So I played Qh3-d7, hoping he would overlook the pin. Which he did: 31.Rd6 Qxd6 and I won.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Six missed reasons for a counterattack

In my last club championship game, I had Black and in the 11th move of an English opening we came to this position.

diagram

Black to move.

My center pawn is attacked, and this post is about why on earth I played a weak move (c5) to protect it.
  1. The first and most important feature of the position is the uncastled white King. He needs a full three moves to castle. This alone would have been enough compensation to give a pawn.
  2. I do not even give my pawn but gain it back with my counterattack d6-d5.
  3. My e-file is already half open to the opponent King.
  4. The Knight, grabbing the pawn, exposes the King.
  5. After having taken the pawn, the Knight is unprotected.
  6. With my counterattack d5xc4 or d5xe4, I launch a discovered attack on the unprotected Knight.
Yeah, instead of «oops, my pawn is attacked, I must protect it» I should have looked at the whole position. Even the simple rule «checks, captures, threats» would have done the job. By the way, after my weak move, the position was dead drawn and I, trying to force a win, ran into a counterattack and lost.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

In Memoriam Kurt Riethmann

Kurt Riethmann
I have the sad duty to report the most important chess related event for me in the year that just has begun: My old chess club pal and our teammate Kurt Riethmann has died last Thursday at age 87. Not only our team, but also our chess club in Winterthur and the Swiss chess scene, especially the promotion of youth chess, are greatly indebted to him.

For me as a freethinker, the words "may he rest in peace" do not come easily over my lips. I am about to leave for the funeral this afternoon, and I have posted some thoughts about the Final Checkmate at my Med Journal Watch Blog.