Sunday, October 30, 2005

Pattern "recognition" run amok

Tonight I blew a game I would have taken easily if I didn't suck. I was up a rook against an opponent who played coin flip chess on most moves (see the Heisman article on Real Chess to the right). I was in complete control. Or so I thought. I am white, and just captured his rook with my queen:

At this point, I am pumped: I just grabbed a major piece, I am deep in enemy territory, and I "recognize" a pattern from the Chess Tutor. Namely, I see the potential to get his h pawn out of the way and mate with my rook on h4. I sacrifice my white bishop, pulling his pawn out of the way ("Oh, I'll deal with the fact that his queen can take on h4 later, using my g pawn as protection," I foolishly thought).

Yes, I know my move (Bxg6) was stupid. It wasn't long before I lost the game. I'm lucky I didn't wake my wife yelling at myself for my stupidity.

Pattern recognition is great, but now that I have built up a tiny bit of it, I have started to get lazy in my calculations. Note to self: while you may recognize certain aspects of a pattern, it is most likely not the exact same pattern. While it is exciting to see a pattern like one I learned while doing the circles (hell, it would be nice if all this training started to actually pay off!), I need to relax, take a deep breath, and think through the most likely variations. Very subtle differences in patterns (and not so subtle, as in the above) have radical affects on play.

For some reason I feel I should move faster in the end game because the board is so much more "simple" than during the middle game. I have learned, with the Chess Tutor, that even king-pawn endgames are not particularly simple, so I should have no shame when I need to take some time to think. Hell, why should I bother seeking 20/20 games when I end up with 12 minutes on my clock at the end?!


Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

Sometimes things seem so clear, while in fact they are not. It can be frustrating, i know. On the other hand, maybe you learned another valuable lesson from this.

10/30/2005 04:53:00 AM  
Blogger The Closet Grandmaster said...

that the endgame appears simple is exactly why we ought to be more cautious and slow. There's danger everywhere in the endgame.

10/30/2005 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Bxg6 is not a terrible move and is entirely playable. It's not the best move, but if Black recaptures he is in serious trouble after 1.Bxg6 hxg6 2.Qxg6 [any Black move] 3. Qa5+. It's 0-1 after this.

There are no quick mates in this position no matter what you play. Don't be so hard on yourself. You played a good move.

10/30/2005 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I just played your Bxg6 line out on Shredder. It got so bad for Black he had to sac the Queen!

This is the best play line. After the Bxg6 move, Black is done 2 more points. That is how serious the threat was.

1. Bxg6 hxg6 2. Qxg6 Nxe5 3. Qh5+ Kg8 4. Re1 Nd3 5. cxd3 Qf6 6. Rxf6 Bxf6 7. Qg6+ Bg7 8. Re5 c5 9. Rg5 Kf8 10. Bxc5+ Kg8 11. Qxg7# 1-0

10/30/2005 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Jim: thanks for the analysis. I feel good about that move now: in fact, I think that was my first well-conceived sacrifice in a real game! I see my real mistake now wasn't Bxg6, but my next move after he took the sacrifice, g3 (trying to protect h4 when his queen moves there). I hadn't considered his response, Nxe5, which foiled my plans.

I am slowly pushing up my time in games to give myself more time to think.

10/31/2005 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


No problem. I've been getting a lot of help recently from other Knights (especially Sancho) so it's my turn to give back.

By the way, in my first comment I meant to say 1-0. . .

You're right - the g3 push is the wrong response. Your mistake is very common (I still make it!)- Dan has lectured me ad nauseum about why these kinds of mistakes are made - it's the old "Hope Chess" lecture. You didn't follow the position to quiesence. There was still play.

It just takes time to retrain your thinking process. Dan has really helped me alot in this area - read all his Thinking Cap articles on his site (well, it links over to Jeremy Silman's site). They are spot on for helping you change your thought process.

Anyway, after 5.Qh5+ Black has a terrible game and should resign.

10/31/2005 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger CelticDeath said...

Jim, after 1. Bxg6 it's not 1. ... hxg6?, but 1. ... Nxe5! and then Black is in the driver's seat (2. Qf5 Nxg6 and now White's rook is attacked and also the discovery 3. ... e5 is threatened.

I think the simple 1. g3 renews White's attack by securing h4 for the rook transfer.

10/31/2005 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger CelticDeath said...

There is another way for White in my variation. After 1. Bxg6 Nxe5 2. Qe8+ Qxe8 3. Bxe8 Nc4 4. bxc4 Bxc3 and I still like Black's position better.

10/31/2005 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger CelticDeath said...

Ok, cut me some slack. I'm doing this all in my head w/o Crafty or Fritz to check me out. Now, the whole line looks unclear to me, but probably favorable to white. The main line I see now for my variation is:

1. Bxg6 Nxe5 2. Qe8+ Qxe8 3. Bxe8 Nc4 4. bxc4 Bxc3 5. Raf1 Bg7 6. Rf8+ Bxf8 7. Rxf8+ Kg7 8. Rf7+ Kh6 9. Bf8+ and now the chase for the Black king is on.

10/31/2005 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


I looked at your response to 1.Bxf6 and I can't see that it does any better because White just answers 1...Nxe5 with 2.Qe8+ and Black is forced to trade or lose the Queen - both are the wrong thing to do when you are already down material as Black is in this position.

The killer move here here is 1.Bf8 forcing the simplification, but 1.Bxf6 still works.

In my opinion 1.g3 is way too passive and loses the e pawn. Black would meet 1.g3 with 1...Nxe5 and you lose a pawn, the initiative and a tempo. Now White would be forced to make the trades - personally I like having the initiative and deciding the outcome [grin] so why let Black back in with a pawn move?

I've looked at this position about 3 times now and as far as I can see the best way to win looks like simplification - which to my knowledge is generally the overriding rule of thumb when you are ahead material.

But hey, what do I know? [grin]

Sooooo. . . .I ran it out on Shredder again and tweaked the hash table and the analysis mode and he came up with this:

1. Bxg6 {0} Nxe5 {48} 2. Qe8+ {36} Qxe8 {24} 3. Bxe8 {2} Ng6 {21} 4. Bxg6 {25}
hxg6 {2} 5. Raf1 {17} *

White is so winning after this that Black should crawl under the table.


10/31/2005 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger CelticDeath said...

Ok, Shredder and Crafty would know better than I, but at least I got to exercise my calculative skills with that position. Very interesting!

10/31/2005 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

Back to the original post, I think it's great your catching your calculation error. Improvement seems to be about honing ones approach and attitude with the calculation you can do.

This position is very similar to several TCT problems, but the devil is in the details. If I don't see enough of a tactical sequence, I usually make a note of the move, play something solid, and examine it later. Otherwise I am being speculative, which is fun but risky at my level.

I usually think that there is something wrong with most of my moves. A doubting approach might be worth considering.

10/31/2005 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Hey BD. Hang in there. It will get better for you real soon. Especialy with all the experience you are getting. You started playing in only April but you have almost played just as many standard games as me. I better get cracking to keep up with your pace!


11/05/2005 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Pawnsensei said...

BTW, are you taking lessons from PTrajkovik too?


11/05/2005 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...


Thanks for the encouragement.

I am not officially taking lessons from PTrajkovik, but last night on a whim I did pay him 5 checkels (i.e., dollars) for a brief game/analysis. We played a 15 minute (per side) game, and he spent about 15-20 minutes going over it. I figured, if I'm gonna get my butt kicked, why not do it with a 2000+ player who will explain my key mistakes?

I am not sure if I'll do it again. It was OK, but he played a variation of the Sicilian defense against me I had never actually seen in a real game (the Scheveningen variation). Going through a bunch of opening variations in this case didn't seem all that helpful to me. If I pay him for a game again, I will request something I actually see/play a lot, like the Guico Piano.

11/05/2005 09:52:00 AM  

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