Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Losing Sucks Scale.

Losing sucks! However there are varying degrees of suckiness when it comes to losing. The lowest degree of suckiness is when you're outplayed and out maneuvered by a higher rated player. You lost which sucks, but you put up a good game. You didn't humiliate yourself so that isn't terrible. My round one loss to Shabalov in last year's US Open is that type of loss. The highest degree of suckiness is getting mated or losing your queen in some book trap in less then 15 moves. This game last fall qualifies matches the extreme suckiness criteria.

Then there are the games that fall in varying places on the losing sucks scale. In no particular order:

Missing a capture or pin from a piece at least 4 squares away.

Missing a simple tactic.

Blowing a totally won position, by falling into one of the above.

Time pressure induced implosions.

Losing on time in a won position.

I've lost my share of games in the ways described above. However one of the most annoying ways to lose that I rate high on the suckiness scale is when you see a threat on one move and then a move or two later fall into the same threat in a slightly different position. My Monday night loss demonstrates this idea.

Mike and I played each other numerous times at the Manhattan Chess Club when it was located on 46th St. We also played in the NY State Championship. Our games were always hard fought even though my record was a measly 1-5. We haven't played since 2002 so I was actually looking forward to playing him again after 6 years. Too bad I couldn't keep the forking pattern in my mind for another few moves.

Sometimes forks and pins involve squares not pieces. I consider Paul Morphy vs Duke of Brunswick & Count Isouard one of those games where a piece is pinned to a square. The knight on d7 is pinned to d8. The decoy move of 16. Qb8+ forces the knight to move and expose the d8 square to the deadly rook check on d8.

In my game in my Monday night game the idea was a fork of a piece and the mating square of h7. Here it is.
What was totally aggravating was that I saw that on move 14 I can't take his e4 knight because he recaptures with the queen which is attacking my bishop on f4 and also attacking h7 which is going to be mate. Two moves later I miss the same threat but instead of losing a bishop it's a rook. Are the two positions so different that I couldn't recognize the same threat two moves later?

Position 1 after 15. Nf3. I know 15...Nxe4 loses my bishop after Qxe4. He's attacking the bishop and threatening Qh7#. I play a different move to avoid that.

Position number 2. I've just played 16...b6 with the idea of Bb7. I wasn't concerned about 17. Nxf6+ Qxf6 18. Be4. I'll move the rook to b8 and then develop the bishop b7. So why could I analyse those moves, but totally miss 18. Qe4? I could see Qxe4 on move 16 with the same idea of attacking an unprotected piece and threatening the exact same mate.

Perhaps two things came into play here. In position 1 I'm the one preventing the queen from getting to e4 by not playing Nxe4. If he clears e4 for the queen by playing Nxf6+ after Qxf6 I'm protecting the bishop on f4, so all I have to do is prevent the mate by playing g6 or Re8.

In position 2 he initiates the combination by clearing e4 with the forcing Nxf6+ I do guard the f4 bishop with Qxf6. However my ill advised 16...b6 allows him a different attack on a newly unguarded piece, namely my rook on a8. Unfortunately the mate threat on h7 still exists. I could have avoided to the problem by eliminating the potential mate threat. It wasn't like I didn't see it, but in my anxiety to try to complete my queen side development the threat got put on my brain's back burner. This game needed a double dose of Tempo's scanning process.


Steve Eddins said...

I posted my own example a while back about seeing a potential threat (
and then forgetting about it a few moves later. Very annoying!

chesschick said...

I had the exact thing happen to me in my state class championships last weekend. I made a move to avoid an opening trap. 3 moves later, the position was such that the threat was renewed. I moved the only piece that stopped it, and lost a rook. :(

I agree that it is very high on the suckiness scale!

Anonymous said...

I've just been analysing a game that ended up being drawn, but which, if I'd been better able to analyse variations, could so easily have been a win.

(Chess Analysis - Looking Beyond the Obvious )

- Mark.