Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Perfect Example of How I Lose

I had two memorable bishop vs. knight endgames recently on ICC (g/2+12).

One appears to be quite instructive, and I still have a lot of analysis to do. I'll post the results soonish.

The other could be a diagnostic that highlights how my brain is broken.

Earlier in the game I, as White, faced this moment:

If the kingside pawn structure remained fluid, I was worried about Black's king penetrating...something like 28. Nf6 Ba6 29. Nd7 Bf1 30. g3 Kh5, although this specific line is thwarted by 31. Nf8!. I therefore decided on 28.g4.

My analysis was: Black's king will have no way to penetrate into my position (I felt the queenside would be sewed shut as well, or that by the time his king got there my knight would eat whatever was abandoned). His "bad" bishop will become active, but the only targets will be the kingside pawns. As long as my king stays there, this is at least a draw.

Later on, I even manage to win a pawn and gain a protected passer, although it's still probably a draw because my king can't penetrate either:

All through this endgame, I have been thinking "the only way White can lose is to let the bishop take his kingside pawns." This is a very good endgame technique, by the way. When trying to figure out how to win or draw, first determine how you can lose. So with that in my mind, and with plenty of time on the clock, I play the waiting move

43. Ke3??

which of course allows 43...Bf1 and I resigned a couple moves later.

This is akin to repeating the mantra, "look both ways before you cross the street" as you stare straight ahead, step off the curb and get schmucked by a bus.

There's games where you can't understand where you went wrong (a rarity to me), games where the correct moves were difficult to find, and games where your errors were obvious if you had just considered your opponent's response.

And then there's my games, where you clearly see the threat and then simply walk into it.

I am at a loss for how to explain this, or correct it. I think I simply own a defective brain.


wang said...

I feel your pain. I did something similar recently, and it was in an endgame as well. I thought to myself, "well, don't let this happen" and my next move allowed that very thing to happen. I wish I could say that this wouldn't happen to me, but it's happened more times than I care to remember.

Polly said...

Show me a player who reads this post and says "That never happens to me", and I'll show you a bold face liar.

I can't even begin to count the number of times I said to myself "I can only lose this game if I do X, or allow the opponent to do Y", and BAM! a few moves later I do X or allow Y. Sometimes I feel like that type of thinking becomes self fullfilling prophecy, but I concur with GP that we need to be aware of the possibilities that the opponent may have if given the chance.

Grandpatzer said...

Polly: Hi! I'm bookmarking your blogs for future reading.

happyhippo said...

i can empathise with wang and polly.

i myself have been the victim of countless number of times where i consistently tell myself not to do something, only to do it 3 or 4 moves down the road.

if grandpatzer has a defective brain, mine is worse, it's always in short-circuit mode.

chess-news.com said...

The thing is, this is so common during blitz, but almost never occurs (at least for me) in regular time-control games. It must be that we are so stressed that once we get an idea (e.g. "I'll play a waiting move") that that idea just bumps the other factors out of short-term memory. I think the only thing that will get rid of this is practice, as I notice short-term memory capacity is something you can train. That said, I don't think we'll ever be able to completely eliminate these blunders.

Anonymous said...

The real question is how you lost this. 44.Kf2 Bxh3 45.Kf3 still draws.

Grandpatzer said...

anonymous: good point, and I don't know why I didnt'mention that in the original post. I played 45.Kg1 instead, which was just silly.

I was shellshocked from having made such a ridiculous move two moves earlier. So my oversight was the penultimate mistake, but not the ultimate.