Game#36 – One opening to rule them all
For those of you who regularly read my blog, you know that as White I meet the Sicilian Defense with the King’s Indian Attack. This is almost always a surprise to my opponent. Most Sicilian Defense players are booked up on White alternatives like the Smith Morra, Wing Gambit and Alapin variation. But once they see 2. d3, I always see a good 5-10 seconds tick off their clock. Some players have experience against the KIA but most do not.
This next game illustrates the importance of focus and composure. When you know you are winning a chess game, it is only natural to ease up the pressure on your opponent. You lose concentration and your mind starts to drift. That happened here. I was up a clean piece and later blundered a piece. I wasn’t losing though. The emotion of the moment led to me giving up the advantage and I nearly lost.
Paul H. – FritzScholz
c3 Sicilian Defense [B50]
3 minutes 2 seconds
Nurture your advantage. One of the most common phrases I’ve read in chess books is, “take your time”. That doesn’t mean playing slower. It means be careful, consolidate your forces and prevent any counter-play. This sideline to the Sicilian Defense led to the position below.
White is winning here. There are a dozen ways to proceed. Moves like a4, Kg2, Qd5 are all good and lead to victory. This is where I got ahead of myself and played Ne3(??) which simply hangs the bishop on h6. Oddly enough, White is still better after that but the psychology of giving up such an overwhelming position was difficult for me to deal with.
Simple moves. The computer has no problem suggesting a4-a5. But for humans, the simple Be3, followed by Kg2 would seal the deal. Remember, this is a blitz game. Simple, accurate moves are what is called for – not fancy, unclear moves that lead to double-edged position.
Whenever you are up material in a winning position, ask yourself, “If I were my opponent, what would I do to drum up counter-play?” If I had asked myself this question, I would have come to the conclusion that Black would like to double up his rooks on the h-file and try to mate me. That is his only real chance and that is what he did. Therefore, Kg2 followed by Rh1 is a simple but effective plan to go with.
Endgames are important. While I lost my head in this game, I managed to regain my composure in the endgame. I wouldn’t call it a master’s class in endgame training but I was able to gain space, create activity and march my pair of kingside pawns down the board. At Better Chess, we always recommend tactics and endgame practice for this very reason. If you make a mistake in the middlegame, your endgame knowledge might be the difference between winning and losing.
Chess weaknesses are difficult to overcome. Once you get into bad habits, it is difficult to reverse them. For me, the best approach is to analyze my games and continue to annotate my mistakes. Only through repetition can bad habits be put to rest. I know many of you are probably asking, “How many times must I make the same f***ing mistake before I improve?“. Understand this: Change happens slowly and not in all the areas we expect. Our ability to absorb information varies between individuals. Keep at it though.
None of us will ever play mistake-free chess. We’re not computers. But focusing on improvement and the commitment to open and objective analysis is the first step in the right direction.
Do you play the KIA against the Sicilian Defense? Do you have recurring problems in converting positions where you are winning? Please share below!