Holiday Invitational Round#2 – From winning to losing

Losing a won chess game

With a draw in game one, I felt comfortable enough with my skills to play for a win in game two. I was confident I could apply several chess winning strategies to beat the silicon beast. Playing with the black pieces is a disadvantage but given the Turk’s random play, I was certain I would gain an advantage. That is exactly what happened. Chessmaster(CM) XI’s passive play led to me getting a crushing initiative early in the opening.

What happened? The same as with most games I play against it. I got a very early advantage and by the middlegame, things started to take a turn for the worst. I traded down material and realized that my opponent had equalized. After some more trading, I was down a pawn and hopelessly lost.

Chess winning strategies

Chessmaster XI (Turk)– Paul H.
c3 Sicilian Defense [B21]
Bellevue, WA
Holiday Invitational Round#2

Post-game analysis

Keeping your advantage. It has often said that when you are worse, in a cramped position, try and trade pieces. These are well known chess winning strategies. But when you’re better, you should avoid trades. I got excited that I had such a grip on the position that I allowed piece trades. I assumed my positional advantage would be enough to win the game. This is normally true, but only if I keep material on the board! So, unless you are up several pawns or a full piece, avoid trades in positions where you have an advantage.

Play good moves when you see them. I missed 10..Nxe3. That would have made life much easier for me. I would have opened the f-file and brought havoc to the White king. Instead I ignored that idea and played a long-winded plan that didn’t amount to very much. Sometimes you just need to keep placing pieces on good squares and wait for events to develop.

Decide where to attack. In “How to Reassess your Chess“, Jeremy Silman writes about chess winning strategies and planning an attack on the chessboard. There are three places to target: the kingside, the queenside or the center. In this game, I chose the center which was not a good choice. With White’s pieces huddled on the kingside, I should have expanded on the opposite wing. You want to attack where your opponent cannot defend. The queenside is the area that has the least protection and that CM would have the hardest time dealing with.

Focus on strategic domination. Pieces on good squares, limiting the mobility of your pieces. These are all chess winning strategies that I should have focused on more. Winning chess games should be built around command and control of the board — not some cute combination your opponent walks into.

Computers are great sparring opponents. They don’t allow cheap tricks that you might get away with playing a human. This is a good though. It forces you to actively fight for control of the board and make sure your pieces dominate your opponent’s position. That is what strategic domination is all about.


A loss is a loss. It taught me a valuable lesson. The post game analysis showed a recurring problem I have – relaxing my grip on a positional advantage. Watching for counter play is another problem I need to improve on. Ne5-d3 is a good defensive resource I should have seen it. For game three, I am white. I plan to focus on clamping down on squares and watching for defensive resources. Can I do it? We’ll find out shortly!

Holiday Invitational Round#2 - From winning to losing

Have you gone from winning to losing in a chess game? Do you need to improve your technique? We’ve had heartbreaking losses so feel free to post your game or a comment below!

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