A Cardinal Sin

Last Sunday in my fourth game of the Sevan Muradian Memorial I committed two cardinal sins at the end of the game.

First, here was the position.  I have just played 27…Qe3+

My opponent, who has about 11 minutes left (time control was G/90+30 sec) looks up and says “Draw?” and I shake his hand.  The two sins?  First of all, I should insist he play a move and then I should have spent as much of the 34 minutes that I had left deciding whether to accept or not.

As it turns out, Black is completely winning – at least according to the engine.  The win is simple if White plays 28.Rdc2 as Black plays 28…Qe1+ 29.Rc1 Rb1+ – I’ll leave you work through the lines.

If White plays 28.Rcc2 then the win isn’t quite that easy.  In fact, neither myself nor my opponent found it in analysis and we went over the game for close to an hour afterwards.  Nevertheless, there is a win there.  The sin isn’t that I didn’t find it, the sin is that I didn’t look.

So why didn’t I look?  Why didn’t I get into the mindset of fighting til the last breath to bring home the point?  Simple, because I had put myself in the mindset of needing to survive.

Let’s look at the position after my 21st move.

Here I’m in some pretty serious trouble.  White can play c4 and then my knight is running out of squares.  Instead, White blunders away his e pawn two moves later by playing 23.Rd2 in this position.

Now the emotional rollercoaster of chess is in full force.  It’s been even – no, I’m losing, – no, I’m winning!

A couple of moves later I’ve given back the pawn I’m up and here we are in the critical position.

So now I’m trying to find a win but not seeing anything direct.  The downside here is that I’m having a truly difficult time keeping the thread of this game.  The position has been sharp enough that the thought of making a slip and losing is creeping in, although I’m fighting to hold it at bay.

And now I’m looking at the above position, and I realize that I can take on c3 and pretty much guarantee myself the opportunity for the perpetual since if White doesn’t recapture he’s going to wind up in pretty deep.

So I go for it.  And my opponent offers me the draw.  But instead of insisting that he offer it properly and then evaluate for a long time I jump at the chance.

I’m not mad I didn’t see the win.  I’m mad I didn’t look.

This seems to be a matter of pure psychology, so therefore it should be correctable, although it may require quite a lot of work.

Here is the entire game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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