Saturday, October 27, 2007

Blowing a won game

Played a Danish again tonight. Great start, great piece activity, and I went up a piece by move 12. Then I proceeded to blindly follow the principle "Trade pieces when ahead", played passively in the endgame, got sloppy, and ended up with a draw. Game is here. If any of you endgame gurus out there have any principles I should have followed, please let me know!

In my first ten slow games after finishing the Circles I went 8-1-1. I'm pretty happy with that.


Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

Nice opening. Some quick observations on the rest...

For one, his pawn structure is better than mine, so it isn't clear that the endgame will be all that favorable if the pieces are all traded off.Dude! You're up a whole piece. Take all the pieces off except for your extra one and it is an easy win.

I should have been much more aggressive. Careful, but aggressive. Controlled aggression is always good.

21. Nxf8. I might take the knight instead, it is a better piece.

24. Kh1. If the king is moving then Kf1 is the right direction. It is the endgame the king needs to head towards the center. The center is not just for openings.

29. Nb5. Why not Ne5; with both b6 and g7 under attack and a nice centralized knight. The center is not just for openings.

35. Ba5. Why tie the bishop to this passive defense of a pawn. a3 instead. Oh, you're gonna push it. I still think I prefer a3 for now. Keep threats on both sides of the board and keeps your pieces free to roam.

29 why not BxN (b6)? It is then a simple win. To repeat from above: Dude! You're up a whole piece. Take all the pieces off except for your extra one and it is an easy win. If you don't see that try playing both sides against Fritz. His king is stuck near your passed pawn.

10/27/2007 05:08:00 AM  
Blogger Dean said...

Something I've learnt is that sometimes the endgame is just a lot of brute force calculation.

10/27/2007 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Dean said...

i.e. in the endgame there are so many different moves you can both make that you need to take more time on each move compared to more closed opening and middle game positions.

10/27/2007 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

I commented on

10/27/2007 08:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very few things suck as losing a won game. It's a good incentive for learning though.

I would have commented on the game, but so many more competent people have done so, so there is no need for me to fill your head with my nonsense. ;)

Congratulations to the great final result!

10/27/2007 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Many many thanks, especially to Glenn for setting me straight that my plan was right (trade down).

Tempo and Loomis also left very helpful comments at the actual post, so those interested should check them out. I'm printing all these out and going over them in more detail. Please don't be mad if I don't comment back right away.

Stressed by all of you: "You were up a piece, why didn't you just keep trading down: you mentioned in your comments that you weren't sure if you could win if all the pieces were traded off. Well, that's not going to happen as you are up a piece you ninny!" Ummm, err, right. I guess I didn't have confidence in my endgame skills. I also think I just wasn't thinking clearly. Crud.

I have one thing to ask: if I had to choose ending up with a Knight or a Bishop as my last piece on the board to help me promote the pawns (and he has no pieces), which would be better? I can see arguments for both in the position: Bishop as there is action on both sides of the board. Knight, as it can hit every square on the board and I don't need to worry about keeping Bishop as he wouldn't have any pieces.

Looking back, I think the Knight should be the last piece and so trading off my B for his N would have been the best plan. Does this sound right?

Darn. I really blew it.

Hey, wait, this is the first time I've legitimately had to worry about which is better in a position, Knight or Bishop. Cool.

You guys are awesome help. I'm going to go back over the game with all of your comments in hand, and with Fritz also telling me what he thinks.

You all kick ass. I should start a pay pal account so I can start paying you for helping me so much!

10/27/2007 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

...if I had to choose ending up with a Knight or a Bishop as my last piece on the board to help me promote the pawns (and he has no pieces), which would be better?
Probably does not matter. But if it does matter, which is better will depend on the specifics of the position. In this position your King can hold his only passer. Then either a K or B could take some pawns or sac itself for a passer far away from the defending King (an often useful simplification when up a piece--sac it for a pawn you can queen by force).

10/27/2007 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Dean said...

Something else that could help is: when ahead in material, trade pieces, not pawns. It's much easier to win a won game if you have a few pawns left to play with.

10/27/2007 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Glenn: thanks.

Dean: yes, that was my thinking. I ended up bungling the execution as I got very sloppy and ignorant in my thinking.

10/27/2007 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Loomis said...

I guess I should ask whether you prefer commentary on your game here or at, and I suppose this is the obvious drawback to posting games on a separate site.

10/27/2007 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What happened in the game has nothing to do with "Trade pieces when ahead." You simply forgot most of those "Things to remember before I play"

10/27/2007 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Loomis: I have no major preference, except what is most convenient for you. You are right that is one of the drawbacks. I'll probably start just posting games here soon enough. I wish would get that done.

10/27/2007 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Antonio: in fact, I left one important thing off that list. The endgame is all about pawn promotion. I'll add it today.

10/27/2007 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Glenn: all points well taken, except comment on 35. That Bishop needs to move somewhere!

10/27/2007 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

I agree with a couple of Glen's points. In fact I wrote my comments before reading Glen's more carefully.

I thought 24 Kh1 was a waste of time, and took your king away from future end game play. It wasn't like he had bishops to hit f2 or check on g1. Usually a move like Kh1 is played to avoid checks after pushing f2. Playing it allowed him the threat of Nf2+ which was easily defended, but loses time.

The other move I didn't like was b5. I felt you should play a3 protecting the passed pawn and trying to eliminate his pawn on a4. Once you pushed to b5 it couldn't be protected by the a pawn.

10/27/2007 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

Glenn: all points well taken, except comment on 35. That Bishop needs to move somewhere!
You're right. I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking or meant (or if I just missed it was hanging).

Yes, 35. Ba5 is necessary. But a3 on any of the two previous moves would have been useful (combined with a Nc3 wins his a-pawn and/or protects your d-pawn as you already noted).

10/27/2007 03:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certainly no expert here, but I agree that 39. Bxb6 would have led to a very easily won game.

Put that position into fritz, you will crush fritz easily. Then put the move you made into fritz, and good luck!


10/27/2007 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

At our club, there is a saying among the lower rated players "a knight can make unexpected jumps in the endgame". Meaning that most of them prefer the knight in an endgame. The reason for that is that when both minds are tired, which is often the case in the endgame, it is easier for the attacker to handle a knight than it is for the defender to be aware of all forks.

For the same reason I prefer a queen above two rooks in timetrouble. Easier to handle and difficult for a tired mind to see where it can go.

Personally I find the knight somewhat clumsy with pawns, especially with a rook-pawn.

10/27/2007 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

you have found out yourself how difficult it was with a tired mind to defend against his omni-present knight.

10/27/2007 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks Polly and Tempo. I have so much to learn...I am thinking a little endgame knowledge will get me to 1500. As long as I maintain my tactical baseline.

Yes, Tempo, he schooled me with his Knight. How embarassing! :)

10/27/2007 08:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many endgame books out there.

My current favorite is Silman's endgame course.

It has everything divided by difficulty level, so it starts very, very easy and works up to hard.


10/27/2007 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Warped: see this review I wrote of Silman's book. That's why I mentioned it in the post. I've read through the first couple of chapters. It is great.

10/28/2007 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On choice of bishop versus knight as the lone piece : as others have said, it depends on the position. If you have only a rook pawn left and opponent has nothing, then the knight always wins, whereas the bishop only wins if it controls the queening square. With a non-rook pawn a knight or a bishop is a trivial win since either one gives you a tempo to reclaim the opposition if you lose it.

On the other hand, a bishop and a pawn can defend each other, so your king can ignore them and go in search of opponent pawns. A bishop and passed pawn mutual defense pattern is especially strong since the king must stay where it can move into the square if the pawn pushes.

Being up either a bishop or knight with pawns on the board is usually a fairly easy win for the player with the piece because it gives him an extra tempo whenever he wants it, which can be used to outflank and penetrate his king into the base of the opponent pawn chain.

One more favorable bishop trait: it can cover the queening or next-to-queening square of an opponent passed pawn from far away.

There are many hands :). On yet another hand, if the pawns are locked it's possible an extra bishop could not make any headway, while a knight can almost always maneuver to penetrate and win pawns, or to sac itself to win a pawn and force an opening.

11/03/2007 02:49:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks, anonymous. A very helpful summary.

11/03/2007 03:16:00 AM  
Blogger waaek said...

Un-anonymousing now (I forgot I had an account) -- Looking at your game: I have not analyzed this in depth, but something I haven't seen mentioned is: 32.bxa4 sort of jumps out at me. This wins a pawn, and creates two outside passed pawns. Yes they're doubled, but I'm thinking: how is black going to stop even one of those pawns? His knight's clear on the other rim of the board! If he moves his king he loses the e6 pawn and you create yet *another* passed pawn he must defend against. Even if he manages to stop the first one, which probably will force the exchange of his last piece the knight (if it can make it back in time), there is the other pawn still to contend with that will lock down or decoy the black king. With 32.bxa4 Black's flexibility is entirely sucked out of his game: he MUST stop those pawns at all cost, and you could probably set up a stable position that lets your king wander the board at leisure, gobbling up pawns. Also, it removes all possibility of Black winning your a pawn and then threatening to queen his a-pawn. Stable positions where pieces mutually defend each other around a passed pawn are very powerful since the opponent's king is locked down stopping the promotion.

And yeah, 39.BxN is pretty much a no brainer Notice how much stronger this would be without the black pawn on a3, and with your d5 pawn on the board, too.!

At the end you write:

"Man did I blow this game. I think that as I hit my tactical plateau, I'll realize I need to study the endgame quite a bit."

But if tactics == "the science of safety", then your tactics also showed some holes: remember, "Pawns Are People, Too!" If you lost 3 pieces for nothing, you'd be quite upset. Losing so many pawns in the ending for nothing was what really sucked the winning chances out of the game.

Very interesting game, thanks for sharing. And I've made my share of blunders, like offering a draw in an easily won posiiton.

11/03/2007 03:54:00 AM  

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