Chess defense is the act of preventing your opponent from executing his plans against you. More specifically, it means anticipating your opponents threats and stopping them before they materialize. This next game was the third I had played against dziulek. I had lost the first two in positions where I was either better or winning. Dziulek is a good defender. He understands how to create counter-play and keep the game balanced.
There aren’t enough books written on chess defense. The couple that come to mind and that are worth buying are:
Tigran Petrosian and Emmanuel Lasker are the most known for the stalwart and innovative defensive skills. I would strongly suggest looking over their games. You will begin to appreciate how the power of prophylaxis can help secure future chess victories.
Always look for weaknesses. Find the vulnerable squares in your opponent’s position and apply pressure where you can. My 17. Ba3 move was strong in that it forced my opponent to deal with the weak d6 square which ultimately led to me getting a better position.
Avoid playing moves by rote. The problem with studying opening theory is that we often absorb information in the wrong way. We play over an opening sequence of moves so many times that we just naturally assume that the move we remember must be the best one. This is the reason I played Na3?!. It wasn’t a blunder but it was certainly an inaccuracy. Chess improvement begins when inefficiencies are corrected. The move Na3 did not help my position and therefore should have been excluded from consideration.
Understand the ending you are in. An ending that has wide open files and diagonals favors rooks and bishops. It does not favor knights. The single advantage I had was my light-squared bishop. It was a critical piece that turned out to be fatal for my opponent. Whenever you start to enter an endgame, make sure you have the right pieces to get the job done. Open positions favor bishops while closed positions favor knights.
Think about your opponents plans. Amateur players can sometimes be arrogant (myself included). They focus too much on their own ideas without even considering what their opponent is up to. During this game, I never saw 17…Qb6. It just never occurred to me. Fortunately, the move didn’t drastically change the game outcome – but it could have. Always ask yourself – “If it were my opponent’s move, what would he play?“
Chess defense is not just reacting to your opponent’s moves. Being proactive is also important. You need to see what your opponent is planning, evaluate his idea and try to prevent moves that will hurt your position. This is easier said than done of course. That is because chess defense is difficult. The more you play, the more you will understand that watching your opponent’s ideas are just as important as your own. All of us need more practice on this.
Playing better chess means you need to consider your opponent’s plans alongside your own. For training purposes, consider playing some online chess games where you solely focus on your opponent’s plans. In other words, flip the script. Your primary focus will be on what your opponent will play while your secondary focus is on your own plans. I think you will find that you will hang less pieces and be less susceptible to counterplay.
Ultimately, you will need to find the right balance between chess defense and offense. But when you do, your play will improve as will your ability to calculate.
Chess defense – the key to better playing and better results!