Getting better at chess is more than just learning to make good moves. That’s part of it. But what is it that makes good moves? That comes from your chess understanding. Many chess battles have been lost solely because a player fails to understand the principle ideas of a position. For example, basic chess principles teach us that we should never offer to trade a good bishop for a bad one and yet, we do it anyway. Only through lots of playing experience can we begin to have these principles sink in so they become second nature.
This next game is a Sicilian, Alapin’s Defense. Normally, this is a quiet opening that leads to peaceful play. Not in this game. It is quite the chess battle. This is a good example of how my lack of understanding led to poor decision-making that resulted in a loss. Note: It is important to recognize how we assess chess positions and call out misjudgments during the post game analysis.
Post-game analysis – c3 Sicilian chess battle
When to grab material. Taking the a2 pawn is more than just going up a pawn. It complements my pawn majority on the queenside and sets me up for a better ending. This thought never occurred to me. Before taking a pawn, ask yourself if your opponent has counterplay and if this will help you once material is exchanged.
With his pinned knight on d4, White would have a difficult drumming up any kind of meaningful counterplay. The best he could do is moving his king to safety with Kh2 or playing Be3 to deal with the pin.
Work with what you have. With a nice pin on the knight, playing 24…b5 made little sense. It simply pushes the bishop to another square. Instead, 24…Nc6 makes all the difference in the world. It participates in pinning the d4 knight and brings pressure on the e5 pawn too.
Be flexible in your thinking process. Once we have an idea in our head, it’s hard to get rid of it. That’s what separates a strong player from a weaker player. Strong players abandon their ideas once their opponent properly defends their attack. Amateur players like myself, have a hard time letting go of a good idea.
Qd5 is not a terrible move by itself, it’s the fact that I missed Qe1 followed by Qf2, winning. Perhaps, I couldn’t see the influence of the bishop on b7. The mate threat on g2 is too much to meet without giving up material. It should have been game over. My stubbornness cost me the game right here.
Simple trades are not always so simple. Offering to trade pieces when you are up material makes sense but be careful. Note the position below. I quickly played Be4 assuming that after Be4 and Qe4, I am up a pawn and probably winning. I did not see the strong reply of Qc3!, hitting the a5 knight and threatening mate on g2. Then, it’s time for Black to resign.
Leave good pieces on good squares. I am the best example of an amateur player who wants to win in grand fashion. My opponent has to hang material, and preferably checkmate for me to feel fully satisfied. Well that’s great but that isn’t how most games wind up. In this game, I consistently miss the idea of playing a5. Looking at it now, it’s a very obvious move. White cannot move his queen and has to watch as I start marching my a-pawn down the board. Instead, I start shuttling my queen around, defending a mate threat that does not exist.
Any amateur blitz chess game is filled with errors and this game is no exception. I made lots of mistakes, some small and some big. The recurring theme in this game was my inability to adjust my thinking. I was so focused on getting my queen and bishop on the long diagonal, I never missed several winning opportunities.
Chess is a microcosm of war. When ground conditions change, the commanders need to take note and adjust their strategies accordingly. This has to be my approach as well. For future chess battles, I will make it a point to look at each position with fresh eyes and adjust my strategy when needed.
Do you have any blitz chess battles that went from winning to losing to a draw? Please share below.