02 March 2016

Unheeded Warning

Good chess players analyze their losses. Better chess players critique their wins. My first round game at the 24th Collyer Memorial Chess Tournament was a win in twenty moves. Winning a miniature inspires confidence, but sober analysis of this particular win should have provoked concern.

My decision making process and calculation errors cultivated unnecessary vulnerabilities. In round two, an error even more serious than one in my first round game cost me the game (see "Don't Be Clever"). After my round three bye, I continued making errors of judgement and of calculation in round four. Round five was a better game, but even then, poor decision making gave my opponent too many chances. In the end, I practically forced him to beat me.

My round one opponent played a King's Indian Attack, which I opted to meet with a Dutch Defense set-up. Both of us were on unfamiliar ground with equal chances for both sides. A few small inaccuracies gave me a slight edge with Black.

Black to move
After 11.Nce5
My opponent thought for three minutes before playing his knight from c4 to e5. My initial reaction was that I should instantly snap off the knight. The vulnerability of my rook on a8 gave me pause. After two minutes, I decided to support my knight.

11...Bb7?

White now has a clear edge.

12.Nxc6! Bxc6 13.e5

13.Ng5 is even stronger, but 13.e5 was the move that I showed my opponent after the game. He discovered that 13...Nd7 would be horrid for me due to 14.Bh3.

I survived my error because my opponent played 12.c3. Eight moves later my opponent resigned because he faced a forced checkmate in two. Despite a quick win, my error should have alerted me to mental weaknesses that required attention before the next round. Rather than spending two hours in the skittles room, I should have taken a long walk to refresh my mind and body.

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