Game#2 – You’re better – now what?

Winning a won chess game is lot harder than it sounds.

Winning a won chess game

Winning a won chess game is lot harder than it sounds. This is my revenge game with Dave. I lost my first game in only 6 moves.

Note how quickly I found myself up material in what anyone would call a won game. Dave is a fighter though. He didn’t give up . Through a series of blunders and inaccuracies on both sides, I gave back my piece advantage. This is the world of amateur chess. The game is never over until a player resigns, is checkmated or agrees/forces a draw. Therefore, when you are up material, always play like you are behind. This is important because your opponent expects to lose so he will do everything he can to make life as difficult as possible for you.

Watch the video analysis, here.

The key takeaways from this game:

  1. A “won” game is never won. Winning material does not always translate to a won game. Your opponent will always fight! I compare this to a lion chasing a zebra. The zebra isn’t going to cooperate and lie down to be eaten. It will run, kick and fight to the very end. Likewise, you have to assume your opponent will not give up. In fact, most people get angry when they make a mistake and resolve to play out the game all the way to checkmate.
  2. Consolidate your pieces. If you’re up material, don’t forget to place your pieces on safe squares and complete your development. Amateur players often suffer from over-confidence. I know because I do it all the time. When I said winning a won chess game was harder than it sounds, I wasn’t lying. Part of being a good chess player is your ability to convert advantages. At the amateur level, it’s important to be able convert positions where you are up a piece . Trying to grind down an opponent when you are up a pawn is important too but it usually requires more experience. Usually when you win a piece in chess, your opponent has some form of initiative. That’s normal. What’s important is for you to focus on is reconstituting your forces. Consolidate your pieces so they are safe and on strong squares. Once you do that, you will be ready to push through to victory.
  3. Tactics training. At the 1400 level, tactics training is the single most important exercise you can do to improve your chess. Yes, endings are important too but first you need to be able to calculate. You can start by reading my post on tactics training. If you would like to watch a walkthrough of how I calculate tactics, watch my YouTube video here. All the mistakes in this game are directly related to my inability to calculate piece movement on the board. The same is true for my opponent. In fact, I would say Dave had a better sense for tactical positions than I did.
  4. Always bring a fighting spirit. I lost this game primarily because I mentally gave up. Chess is a game of willpower. The more you focus, the more likely you are to have good outcomes. Dave did a good job of that here. I gave back a piece that I had won and I simply lost my nerve. To his credit, the initial loss of a piece never slowed him down – not one bit. He focused on the position and waited to see if I would make a mistake – which I did. Winning a won chess game is sometimes more about composure than anything else. Who will keep their calm and who will let their emotions run away with them? Winning a won chess game means you have to bring a fighting spirit.

The “Dave” series

This is one of a series of games played between myself and my friend Dave. These were played years ago when I was around 1400 ELO. The quality of the games are low but there are a lot of lessons for beginner players to learn from.

I made sure to tag each of these games with #Beginner and #Dave series to help distinguish them from other annotated games on Better Chess.

What are your thoughts on this game? Did you learn anything? Please share your feedback below. Winning a won chess game is a critical theme that amateur players experience all the time!