One of the things that chess players often talk about is intuition. Whether it’s a top flight GM explaining in their post game interview that they did something because they “had a hunch” or one of the class players at your local club intuition plays a large role in the royal game.
However, there are times when intuition simply won’t do and precise calculation is an absolute must.
Here is an excellent example that Boris Gelfand discusses in his book Positional Decision Making in Chess.
This is the position after Black’s 20th move in Gelfand-Ivanchuk Dagomys 2009
Writes Gelfand “We have reached maybe the last critical moment in the game. At this point I had to calculate accurately to ensure that the knight endgame was winning. As this was the case I more or less forced him to enter it. You cannot do such things on feeling.”
What struck me quite deeply about that line is that only a few days prior I myself had done just such a thing “on feeling” in my game against Gerlach.
Here is the position with White to move:
My notes to the game say “I felt the need to try to press a little to see if my opponent would crumble at all, which he did not.”
That’s the danger – I “felt” that I had to play 22.b5. My logic was that I couldn’t calculate any immediate danger so therefore this decision was justified.
The problem is that I also couldn’t calculate any advantage. So therefore why was I playing on feeling. At this point in the game I had maybe a 15 minute advantage on the clock, so if anything I should have just played solid, logical moves and hope to nurse my clock advantage to a point where my opponent was more likely to make a mistake.
Instead, I played something that was quite committal.
Clearly this is something that I will need to be much more mindful of during my games.
Til Next Time,