19 December 2007

Practical Play / Correct Play

In a recent game I had White on move in this position.

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I played 41.Qxe6!? to create a simple winning king and pawn endgame. At this point in the game I was spending minimal time and effort despite the time control of three days per move. Had I spent a little bit of effort, I might have concluded the game more rapidly. I overlooked a forced checkmate in seven moves from the diagram position.

Earlier in this same game I overlooked another forced checkmate.

White to move

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26.Bxf5?! seemed simple enough, but it led to an imbalanced position where White's decisive advantage required demonstration of some technique, and there were pitfalls.

The black queen is not going anywhere, and in the meantime the white rook is well placed. Some attention to the aggressive posture of White's pieces might have revealed the forced checkmate in ten moves. It was a practical decision to capture the black queen and continue with a decisive material advantage, but it was not a decision fully thought through.

The heart of this game begins with the combination I found earlier in the game. Once I achieved a clear advantage, I became lazy and no longer sought out the best lines. In the position below, Black has just captured a pawn.

White to move

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Black's 20...Re8xe5?? was the game losing blunder, although it appears to win a pawn. Black should have played 20...Ba6, winning the exchange.

Winning material often seems practical, but well coordinated pieces might facilitate a better process towards victory.

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