Hooked on a Feeling

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,

Chris Wainscott

3 thoughts on “Hooked on a Feeling”

  1. Must be me but I would never play 22. b5 in that position. The reason why is that it gives the field c5 to your opponent while if you leave the pawn on b4 the Na6 and Be7 are a little out of play. My “feeling”, looking at the position, is more the need for some sort of counter attack on the kingside. A move like g4 comes to mind but I wouldn’t lash it out but first calculate it since it weakens my king position.

  2. Yes, it does give up c5, but in the process c6 is gained. So maybe that’s an even trade positionally.

    However, in the diagrammed position I could have just sat back and “waited” since my position was solid enough to hold for as long as needed.

    So the real crime was rushing based on intuition.

  3. Oke, you gained c6 but positionally c5 was a more critical square. Black doesn’t need the square c6 to develop his pieces. Square c5 on the other hand … .

    Doubt that you can just sit back in chess. In my 28 years carreer in chess (club play), waiting moves never got me anywhere. Every move must have a purpose. Oke, us patzers (if you dont mind calling us that) forget that a thousand times during a chess game. But still, b5 didn’t improve your position, I would rather say that it helps black more then white.

    Maybe you must put that position (before and after you play b5) in an engine and see how it evaluate the position.

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