Lately I have come to realize that there are two issues that are the main cause of my stagnation for the last couple of years.
In order I believe them to be comparative analysis and evaluation of the resulting positions.
Here is an example from one of my games at the US Open. Take a look at this position, with Black (me) to move.
Here I became fixated on the idea of 24…Nxd5. I was looking at the idea of 25.exd5 e4
I was thinking that I would wind up with a much better position after something like 26.Qd2 exf3 27.gxf3.
The problem though was that I didn’t look at any other moves. So I became fixated on this one idea and it became far too east to convince myself that it must be good since it was the only thing I was looking at.
But let’s go back to this:
The problem is that White has a nice intermezzo. Can you find it? It’s at the bottom of this post.
Had I been looking at other candidate moves and comparing them I would have also considered moves such as 24…axb4 or 24..Rc8, etc.
Perhaps I still would have miscalculated and played 24…Nxd5, but I would have had a more open mind. (For the record the real blunder came a few moves later in the game…)
My other issue is evaluation of the resulting positions. Far too often I can’t tell when a position is even versus slightly better or slightly worse.
By “slightly” let’s say like 1.0 in engine evaluation. Of course that can mean a swing of nearly 2.0 on any given move. Let’s say that I have a position that’s 0.00 and one move is +.75 in my favor while the other is -.75 against me. That’s 1.5 in difference.
Sure, most obvious moves I will at least catch. If there is some glaring issue I do tend to notice those. For instance the doubled isolated f pawns resulting in the line I calculated above which my opponent avoided with the zwischenzug. It’s the more subtle things that I need to work on.
I am becoming convinced that the road to 1900 and beyond will be paved with learning to always look at multiple candidate moves.
In order to break 1800 I had to force myself to look at tempo moves all of the time. This seems to be the next step on the path.
I’ve been looking through a ton of GM games lately for various reasons, and in doing so I stumbled across this gem of a game.
The game features a lot of maneuvering with opposite colored bishops until this position is reached:
Here White takes advantage of the opportunity to get queens off while winning a pawn and gaining a mass of center pawns in the process.
After further maneuvering this position appears on the board:
Here Black commits the critical error by playing 69…Bf1, moving the bishop to a square where it doesn’t factor into the defense of the h3-c8 diagonal. After a few more deft maneuvers on White’s part Black quickly finds his king tied to the defense of a pawn and White’s pawns marauding.
This game is a very Carlsenesque example of how to maneuver until your opponent makes a slight slip which then becomes exploitable.
Here is the entire game.
Til Next Time,
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