Transitioning to slow chess means switching from impulsive decision-making to careful analysis. This was my third classical time control game played on the DGT Smartboard. The game wasn’t terribly exciting but there were a couple of lessons to be learned. First, while I had an enduring advantage for the most of the game, I was never winning. When I reviewed the game during the post mortem I was convinced that the ending position translated to a crushing win for White. I was wrong. The reality is that White is better but the game is probably drawn.
The second lesson is that I shouldn’t be too proud of a tactical piece sacrifice. As it turns out, playing 20. Ne5 resulted in his own piece sacrifice with Ned5 with White having only a slight advantage. The moral of the story is this: just because you can sacrifice a piece to win a pawn, doesn’t mean you should. A more careful analysis of the position shows that exchanging knights helped Black free himself from a crowded position.
Slow chess means careful analysis
Occupy space when you can. The simple developing move of 14. Bg5 seemed natural enough but d5 was the right approach. Why? Because it gives me more space and forces Black’s knight to retreat. Simple chess. It’s important to not play robotically by developing a piece without assessing the position beforehand.
Don’t help your opponent unwind. I mentioned this in the introduction but it bears repeating. If your opponent’s pieces are tangled on the back rank, do not offer trades. My cute Ne5 not only didn’t win a pawn, it allowed the counter of Ned5. This gave Black some breathing room. Better was Qa5 preparing to infiltrate on c7. This is a more comprehensive plan than a one-move tactic.
Passed pawns should be protected. They should be pushed too but first they have to be escorted to their queening square. Rd1 was a very strong and lasting move that needed to be played. Getting behind that d6 pawn is a winning strategy that Black would have a hard time countering. Just because the rook isn’t invading on the back rank to deliver checkmate doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. Sometimes, a piece has to play a supporting role in a larger effort.
Making the shift from blitz to classical chess has been a challenge. I am misjudging many of the positions as if I have only seconds to make a decision. This support my theory that playing too much blitz chess leads to impulsive decision-making. To improve the quality of your chess, slow things down – take ten minutes to evaluate a critical position and see what you can come up with. Avoid playing too quickly. Carefully analyze the position before making seemingly “normal” developing moves. Making these small refinements will lead to stronger moves and better results.
Question – When playing classical chess, do you feel you play better, worse or about the same?