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Understand The Position 12: “Good and Better.”

GM Ján Markoš | July 4, 2011 – 14:58One Comment | 1,362 views
Understand The Position 12: “Good and Better.”

Each strong chess player has a lot of good practices stored in the memory, which are played more or less automatically. Each grandmaster has his own typical style of calculation, the way of “reading” the position on the board and a favourite playing pattern. It is completely natural – people are not machines, everybody has its own style.

Translated by: Dusan Turcer

The problems start when player doesn’t “read” the position correctly, or when some important line falls down through his calculation “sieve”. Then it is necessary to return to this critical situation at home and explore why the automatic mechanisms, that usually work quite well, failed this time.

My observation has proved that I relatively more often overlook moves backwards, moves with the queen and unforced continuations. It also happens very often, that chess players overlook the best option if the second best line looks very good. This is logical: people usually get satisfied with a good things, they stop searching for a better ones – and it results in a mistake.

Position on the diagram is from the game Poobalasingam – Markos, Zurich 2010. White to move. Try to calculate the consequences of the move 20.Nxb3.

Capturing a pawn looks like a quite natural move, but it’s a serious mistake. White played 20.Nxb3? and calculated the line 20…Nxc4! (Otherwise, Black is a clear pawn down.) 21.Rxc4 Rxc4 (The immediate 21…Bb5 is met by 22.Nd2 and White holds two knights for the rook.) 22.Qxc4 Bb5 23.Qc2 Bxe2 24.Qxe2 Qxb3 25.Rc1with a safe and balanced endgame of major pieces. That was absolutely suitable for White – he had not an exaggerated ambitions in the game with a grandmaster.

If you calculated this line same way, you have a solid tactical basis. However, you didn’t hit the nail on the head! Black can play much stronger move than the natural and good 22…Bb5. 22…Rc8!! Instead of recapturing the piece, he fights for the initiative! White queen cannot retreat to d3, because after 23…Bb5 Black gains a decisive tempo in the above mentioned endgame of major pieces and he would control the c-file and penetrate into the opponent’s position thanks for that.

All that remains is 23.Qb4, but the queen ends up far away from the kingside. I played 23…Qf2, and all drawbacks of the White’s position were revealed: the king on h1 can be attacked using weak light squares or the second rank; both knights are „hanging“ and they are not able to be covered easily; major pieces are lost on the queenside. Poobalasingam tried 24.Qd2, but the black rook had another star move at disposal: 24…Rc2! Luring the queen to the uncovered square and prevents the defense Ne2-f4. After 25.Qxc2 Bh3 it is over, e.g. 26.Ned4 Bg2 mate. White yet played 25.Qa5 and after 25…b6 26.Qxa7 Qxe2 he resigned.

At first glance, it looks like I completely destroyed my opponent. Poobalasingam, however, wasn’t doing too bad; finally, his position looks a bit more comfortable when we look at the diagram. He made only one obscure and psychological mistake: he got satisfied with a “normal” and strong continuation and wasn’t searching for the best move.

One obscure mistake – and nothing but debris left.

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Comments (1)

  • Bryan says:

    Maybe if you asked this in the math stiocen someone familiar with Combinatorics could calculate it out.I’m sure there is a mathematical limit on the number of possible positions but it’s possible that it would take so long to reach it that the players would have long grey beards by then.

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