Winning with chess tactics – Game#37

Chess tactics

Chess tactics can play an important role in any chess game. If you spend time studying tactical puzzles, your mind starts to look for similar patterns in your own games. All it takes is one misstep from your opponent and you can launch a tactical combination that wins the house. This is what happened in this game. My opponent failed to see that one of his pieces was overloaded and wound up blundering a piece.

Never underestimate your opponent’s will to win. Playing a winning tactic doesn’t mean the game will win itself. In many cases, your opponent hunkers down in an effort to drag things out and make you play accurate chess. Not only did my opponent not give in, he refused to resign and forced me to checkmate him. Sometimes you have to admire a players determination even if he has no chance of saving himself. Attitude is no substitute for competence but it puts the pressure on the winning player to secure the victory.

There is a lot of debate in the chess world about when you should resign a chess game. While it is true that no one ever won a chess game by resigning, there comes a point where the game is no longer competitive and thus resignation makes sense. Then again, some players feel the game is not over until one side checkmates the other.

Game#37 – Using chess tactics won’t win a game

Paul H. – ryszard52
Closed Sicilian Defense [B25]
Play by e-mail (3 days per move)

Post-game analysis

Attacking phantom targets. I’ve written a lot about the downside of playing passively in a chess game. All moves you play should have some meaning behind them. Related to that are moves played to attack something that is not valid. For example, I played 10. Nb5 played to apply pressure to the d6 pawn. The problem is that this helped my opponent. If he had simply played d5, he would have liquidated his weakness and I would have to justify two uncoordinated knights that would soon be under attack.

10. Nb5?! makes little sense

Even a move like 10…Rb8 works nicely for Black. If I take the d6 pawn, depending on which knight I used to capture it, I walk into b5 or a6. Calculating chess tactics has to be done carefully. I should have seen that Black has several resources available to him. If you make a move like this, make sure you spend time working on your opponent’s ideas, not just your own.

The will to win. Playing good moves is not always enough to win a chess game. You have to want to win too. The drive to defeat your opponent is what keeps you focused and prevents mental errors from happening during your game. In this game, my opponent probably knew he was lost but he continued to apply pressure in the hopes I would crack under pressure. Fortunately, I was able to restrain his counter play but there were a couple of moves, one in particular, that nearly swung the balance his way.

Winning with chess tactics - Game#37
White to play and win.

Bg5 was the only move to save the game. Qc1 is an alternative but after Qxc1, Rxc1, Black captures on f6 and the game is roughly equal.


Hitting your opponent with a tactical shot is a great feeling. This is especially true if the combination wins material. Still, chess tactics need to be played with caution and I don’t mean this purely from a calculation perspective either. Once you are up material in a game, it is only natural for you to become overconfident. And why not? After all, if you just won a piece and your opponent has no counter play, what is there to worry about? Plenty. Just because you are up in the material count, always respect your opponent’s resourcefulness.

Remember, your opponent is down a piece so the pressure is off of him. He knows he’s lost. That means that he can now calmly sit back and prepare the craziest counter attack he’s ever played without the anxiety he might feel in a game where both sides have equal chances.

It is this throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude that is often liberating to a defeated player. So, if you find yourself in a winning position, spend time evaluating what your opponent can play against you. Ask yourself, “If I were my opponent, what should I play to turn things around?” Then spend time taking away these chances by activating your pieces, putting them on good squares and preventing any counter play.