Mutual blindness

11 Oct

Is there something like luck in chess? Some people might say ‘in other sports yes, but of course not in chess!’ In football for instance a ball can change direction due to an uneven football pitch.

Or, what happened years ago in a football match in Utrecht: a sea gull collided with the ball. There is no such thing as an uneven chess board. And sea gulls are not likely to be found indoors. At least: not that I have seen.

But of course in chess there is also something called luck. For instance your opponent blunders in a won position. In my opinion that’s luck.

What do you think about this position? It is from my game against A. Broddevalk played in the Västerås Open 2014. See the first diagram.

With his last move black attacked the pawn on b2. White defended the pawn a bit careless with 12. b3. Better would have been 12. Qb3 or 12. Nbd2.

Let’s look at the position from black’s perspective. I was not at all happy with my position. It is a sort of Tarrasch defense but with one major difference: the dark colored bishops are exchanged. For my feeling I was worse because I am weak on the dark squares.

Although I thought the move 12. b3 looked a bit odd, I didn’t ponder very long and opted for a developing move with 12. … Be6. Not bad. Houdini gives black a slight edge!? And not as I wrongfully thought that white was better. Black is better developed and has the more active pieces. Besides that he can push his isolated pawn to d4. In doing so he gains more space.

But let’s look again. 12. b3 is a clear mistake. White should lose the game because black has 12. … Nb4! Now it becomes clear why b3 was not only an ugly move, but also a bad one. The white queen is robbed from one of her escape routes. And the Queen doesn’t guard c2 anymore. See the analysis for what could have happened. I guess white was lucky.

A couple of moves later black returned the favor. See the second diagram.

Black had pushed his d-pawn. But he’d done it at the worst possible moment and made a serious miscalculation. White has a clear advantage. The black pawn on e6 is a weakness. The white bishop is in open positions stronger than the knight. Moreover white threatens 22. Qb8+ and black loses the pawn on b7. Now comes my idiotic way of reasoning:

‘Okay, I am much worse and I am probably going to lose material at some moment. Why not lure white in exchanging his bishop for my knight? We will end up in and endgame with both Q + R and white has an extra pawn. Usually these positions are difficult to win!’

It is a naïve way of reasoning. There is a gaping hole in this ‘theory’. Black played 21. … Nd5 and white responded exactly as intended with 22. Bxd5. After 22. … exd5 23. Rxd5 white was up a pawn and had a won position (+- 2.15). Black is nowhere near a position that is ‘difficult to win for white’. See analysis…

The truth of the matter is that both players missed a simple tactic. Of course we can’t blame black. He was thinking about lofty goals such as ‘exchanging his knight for the bishop and maybe saving the game’. Besides he got what he wanted. So how on earth should he have thought about something so mundane as an exchange sacrifice? Yes how about exchanging the knight for the rook? Of course! Black can’t take the rook. If he does he will be mated. So I was lucky. In Holland we say ‘luck is for the dumb people’. How true!

In the end my luck ran out and I lost the game after a couple of moves.

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