12 June 2012

Long Think

Certain positions require deeper calculation, whether they are tactical or positional. Sometimes there is the need  to find a plan. Other times one must find an only move in a critical position. Then, there are efforts to find the most convincing continuation in a superior position. In a 15 0 game on Free Internet Chess Server this morning, I reached the following position with 9:57 remaining on the clock.

White to move

r3r1k1/pp2bppp/4b3/2pN4/2N1B3/1R4P1/q2P1P1P/3Q1RK1 w - - 0 22

My opponent might have suspected that I abandoned the game. After several minutes, I saw the message "hello" pop up in the chat box. I replied, "I'm thinking," and he left me to my work. When I finally moved, I had 3:51 remaining on the clock. That's slightly more than six minutes in a fifteen minute game.

After the game ended, I brought up the game in ChessBase 11, navigated to this position, and opened Rybka 4. Rybka favors the move that I actually played +3.41 to +3.00. When the game was over thirty-one moves later, I had 1:58 remaining on the clock. That is just over five minutes for the first twenty-one moves, six minutes for move twenty-two, and less than two minutes for the rest of the game.

It is satisfying to go into a long think and come out having made the strongest move.


  1. Excellent job, James! :-)

    Six minutes is worth it if one is to find a game winning move like you.

    The most natural continuation in this position seems to be 1.Rxb7 Qxc4?!, 2.NxBe7+ Kf8, 3.Bg2 (3...RxN opens the way for BxRa8).

    But you say there is a move with a big advantage, so I look again and see what we don't usually see, a "strong retreat" move, as a fellow chess colleague calls such moves. 1.Nc3 Qa7, 2.Bxb7, trapping the queen. It is difficult to spot these traps in live games at anything short of classical time-controls. Looks as though all of that tactical training you've had is paying off. ;-)

    1. I spent considerable time looking at the move 22.Rxb7. Then, my mind kept coming back to ideas like Qh5, which leads nowhere. However, the threat of Qh5 protects the d5 knight. Trapping the queen seemed my most promising line. As moving the rook exposes the c4 knight, I played 22.d3! My opponent missed the danger to his queen. Play continued 22...Rad8 23.Ra3 Qxa3 24.Nxa3 Bxd5 25.Bxd5 Rxd5 26.Qf3. I was then ahead a queen for a rook and two pawns.

      Some of my play after trapping the queen was suboptimal, and my advantage slipped to a mere +2.50. For example, I should have played the in-between move 24.Nxe7+. My move 26 also placed the queen on an inactive square. It was better to move the rook to the e-file, setting up a pin on the bishop.