Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Attacking doesn't mean rushing

About half of my losses lately have come from positions in which I played well, had a crushing attack started, but bungled it because I didn't slow down and take the time to think it through on each move.

During an attack I need to be sure to do the following:
1. Slow down and think. This is the wrong time to rush moves. It is the exact opposite of a quiet position, so it requires careful and thorough analysis. This is the phase of the game for which Kotov's method applies in spades. It is key to think through to quiescence.
2. Think broadly as well as deeply. Consider all possible attacking continuations, even those that seem crazy on a first pass. You have a bunch of material piled up: it is fine to lose some of it if it allows even more to rush through and destroy the opponent. Also, be sure to consider pawn moves and captures.
3. Be flexible. If it turns out mate is not possible, change plans, try to secure other long-term advantages. Or look for a different road toward mate.

Here's an example of a position in a game from last night (my first slow-game Smith-Morra gambit), white to move:
Obviously, white has a huge advantage, and the attack is on! I did a fine job building up to this point, but proceeded to squandor my advantage. Instead of the correct gxh!, I played Bc5, thinking I'd take his rook out and then get a relatively easy mate. Wrong. I ended up losing...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should probably just play gxh5 there, I don't see how black is not gonna get mated. Basically your Bc5 move just takes one of your pieces out of the attack and loses a lot of time.

9/18/2007 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Braden: exactly (I said bxa for some reason in the original post, as I inverted the board in my mind, I meant to say gxh). Fixed now.

9/18/2007 10:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BDK - I like the title of your post. Have been trying to hammer these types of lessons into my own head (post titled Second Gear on my blog), although more as it relates to positional positions. (Follow? :) I think part of the ability to not-rush in attacking positions comes simply from detached evaluation. If you play through some of Tal's annotations, periodically he will just toss in a note like "And clearly Black is lost here." I think that meant that , even though he was the ultimate calculation machine, he could skip a lot of calculation in certain positions by determing something like "Black's king is exposed and his counterplay on the other wing is going to take 6 or 8 tempi," which means White doesn't have to bust out an instant mate.

Braden can probably confirm or deny from a much stronger player's perspective but you get the same gist from "I don't see how black is not gonna get mated."

9/18/2007 11:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had the same problem in the Vienna gambit. It is really hard to slow down with all that adrenaline pumping through your veins. Opening up lines and inviting everybody to the party in a thoughtful way seems to be the key.

9/19/2007 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

after concentration of force, next phase is to open lines.

pawns are the cheapest way to open lines-- i think of them as crowbars.

piece sacrifice is a more expensive way to do so-- i think of them as bombs.

9/19/2007 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

SP and Anon: if I were more consciously thinking about opening lines (especially using pawn crowbars) I probably would have found the right moves.

DS: my intuitions are slowly getting better with basic things...but to a large degree, especially in these types of situations, calculation is essential as my intuitions are immature.

9/19/2007 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah DS is right, in a position like that there is no need to calculate much. The only lines I calculated were (and this was done subconsciously when I first saw the position):

1) gxh5 Qxe5 hxg6+ (losing a piece stop there)

2) gxh5 gxh5 Nxh5 Nxh5 Qxh5+ and mate.

Notice on line 1 how I just stop calculating when I see I just win a piece. Maybe it's mate, maybe not, but who cares. I'll figure it out if it happens. Cutting it short here isn't that important, but in a really complicated/sharp position this technique really gives you more time to focus on the critical stuff.

9/19/2007 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Interesting take Braden. So you'll do a fairly broad but not super-deep take on the position, and based on that take the time to explore what that analysis suggests is most critical?

I noticed you are from NH. I'm a South Hampton transplant, presently stuck down in North Carolina.

9/19/2007 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger takchess said...

Branden I think is the State Champ or close to it.


He is playing in the tournament I am play in Oct but at a much different level

9/19/2007 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tak: I noticed that in my googling. I'm lucky to have him here offering his comments!

9/19/2007 05:42:00 PM  

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