Monday, September 24, 2007

Seeing Ghosts

The difference between stronger players and mere mortals like myself is the ability to see variations and work them out deeper. Often I simply overlook something. (See previous post for an ugly example!) Other times I see something that's not really there. This position is a classic example of seeing things that aren't really there.

We just traded minor pieces with 13. Nxd6, Qxd6. It's my move and I'm looking at 14. Qxb7. Pawn captures on the 7th rank always make me a little leary due to trapping possiblilities. My analysis goes something like this. 14. Qxb7 Rb8 15. Qxa7 Ra7 16. Qb7 Rfb8. Oh crap my queen is trapped! But it isn't because I can play Qxc6.

Because I'm looking at the physical board with the black rook on c8 I'm thinking the pawn is guarded twice so my queen has nowhere to go. In reality there is no rook guarding on c8, so I can pick up another pawn. This is where stronger players have an advantage. They can see the new position in their head much clearer. They would recognize that the rook is no longer protecting c6. This wasn't even deep analysis. Only 3 move pairs.

I looked at other possibilites such as 15 Qxa7 Rxb2 16 e3. I had expended a lot of time and energy on the "trapping the queen" line, that I didn't really look too deeply into having Black's rook on my 2nd rank. After digging myself a time hole that would actually work in my favor later, I finally played the very safe 14 Rfe1. A few moves later we traded a pair of rooks, and the pawn was still there for the taking so I grabbed it.

My opponent in this game is a nine year old girl with a rating in the mid 1300s. I've played her twice before, and she likes to attack. We each have won once. Black has lost all our games. Knowing that she does play aggressively I was cautious. She ended out getting play for the pawn, and she eventually got it back. It was in a wide open position with both kings exposed that I used my "time disadavantage" to my advantage. I had around 45 seconds, and she had over 3 minutes. I find that younger kids will try to blitz in these types of situations in the hope that they can run the opponent out of time. Pieces tend to get dropped in these types of positions. She grabbed a pawn with her knight, and I pinned it to her queen. She could have forced the trade of queens saving her knight, but instead she instantly moved the queen away. I won the knight, and then a few moves later she hung her queen. When she resigned I had 14 seconds she had over two minutes. If she had used a little more time she probably would have found the queen trade, and the game may have ended out being a draw. Who knows. Unfortunately the next round I'd be the one screwing up the time advantage.


Joshua said...


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Icepick said...
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Icepick said...

After 17 Qxc6 then 17 ... Qxc6 18 Rxb6 Rxb2 and the a-pawn will probably also fall, with pressure on the second rank. Trying 19 Rfc1 doesn't look all that helpful after 19 ... h6, creating luft and either forcing White to give up the two Bishops or move the black-squared Bishop to an awkward square.

Samplpe: 19 Rfc1 h6! 20 Rc8+ Rxc8 21 Rxc8+ Nf8 leaves White in a pickle.

I wonder what I'm missing? Still, this (the Qxc6 line in general)seems pretty playable from Black's side, even if down a pawn.

Also, Black could try to be more clever with something like 14 ... Rc7, and then swing the f8 Rook onto the b-file looking for some fun. There's actually a lot of play in the position for both sides if 14 Qxb7 is played.

Polly said...

The other line I considered was Rb8, Qxa7, Rxb2. I wasn't crazy about Black having her rook down on my 2nd rank, and pressure on a2 and e2. That was why I played Re1. That way if she did get the rook down there, the e pawn was already protected.