Monday, March 02, 2009

A Bad Move

Black to play

Last week I mentioned that I'd fluked a win with Black after having a highly dodgy position earlier in the game.

I'd been very comfortable coming out of the opening but went badly astray in the early middlegame. In fact it was in the position above that I first started to go wrong.

The move I actually made - it's not a case of complete fuckwittery like this one, more a question of lack of understanding - will appear in the comments box later on today. In the meantime you may wish to think about ...

  • What you think the bad move was

  • What you would play here

  • How you would assess this position

As ever, all contributions gratefully received.


Anonymous said...

e4 looks tempting...

Adam B

ejh said...

..if you don't mind being a bishop down...

Jonathan B said...

I wanted to play ...e5-e4 but did not blow the bishop.

I actually played ... Qxd5 which I think deserves at least a "?" and possibly a "??" or even a "???" for reasons I'll explore over a few posts.

Will said...

Qxd5 gives white a protected passed pawn and forces the Knight to a poor sqaure, is this the poor move?

I'm not sure what I would have played, probably by now I would have blundered....

Jonathan B said...

Will, our posts crossed over but yes ... Qxd5 was the lemon.

Come back on Wednesday for (the start of) the explanation. Working out my process for coming up with this monstrosity has been quite enlightening.

ejh said...

By the way I'd want convincing that you first started to go wrong in the position above - White looks very handily placed to me, two very nice bishops for instance. Also compare the major pieces of the two sides and perhaps relative king safety as well.

poisonedpawn said...

Interesting position. Black is obviously structurally better, but white has some activity.

My first thought is that the white queen looks good but is short of squares, so why not restrict it more with a6? Qc5 can be met with Qe7, and Qf7 with Bg6. I'm not sure what else white can do constructively, which should give black time to rearrange his pieces.

My second thought is to just get the black queen out the way by Qc8, moving to e6 later.

I think I like my first thought first. Play a6 and ask white what he's doing. We can follow with Qc8 or Be6 later if we want.

Of course I may be barking up the wrong tree, I'm a bit drunk.

John Curtis

Jonathan B said...

Interesting point of view EJH.

I'll get back to the assessment of the starting position after I've worked through everything I want to say about my bad move - it's going to take a while.

You sound a bit like the fast show's Rowley Birkin but your drunken thinking seems pretty good to me. Certainly better than I did sober and playing the game for real.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking 1...a6 too - for the reasons JC gives.

I was also wondering if Black could get away with 1... Be6 2 Qb5 Qc8 with the idea of playing ...a6 and ...b5. But probably it's too ambitious - for example, 3 Nd2 a6 4 Qa4 (4 Qb3 Na5) b5 5 Qc2 and it looks like Black will have to give up the exchange with 5... Na5 6 Bxa8 Qxa8 for probably insufficient compensation (and that's assuming I haven't missed a tactic).


Jonathan B said...


It's only since the game finished that I think I started to go wrong here.

During the game itself I thought perhaps I'd already done so - for some of the reasons you give and for undervaluing the lack of squares White's queen has as John Curtis pointed out.

Anonymous said...

* ...Qxd5
* ...Qc8
* equal (just a wild guess)

The assessment is the key.

I can make a tactical error at any time! But I make most of my strategical errors (...Qxd5 would qualify) when my evaluation does not match what is happening on the board. Usually this is through over-estimation, but under-estimation is frequent enough. (When the mis-evaluation is due to missing a "resource" in some calculated line, then the distinction between tactical and strategical errors becomes blurry.)

There is a huge benefit to your game in figuring out: precisely what ought to have happened tactically; precisely what the evaluation is strategically.

If you show your analysis, here or at the club, someone can offer criticism and then your understanding will be even better.

Food for thought: Patrick Wolff once apologized for using the "unclear" symbol. He explained that unclear means lazy, but the magazine deadline prevented him from analyzing to a proper conclusion.

Jonathan B said...

If you show your analysis, here or at the club, someone can offer criticism and then your understanding will be even better.

The first stage of this process is coming tomorrow.

Interesting thoughts about errors and assessments. My tendency is to under-value my position not over value it ... possibly as happened here.

ejh said...

I think that nearly all my errors (overt tactical oversights perhaps excepted) originate from overestimating my position despite the fact that I try and discipline myself to treat all positions as fundamentally equal unless I can show otherwise. Well, saying and doing are different disciplines in many ways.

the magazine deadline prevented him from analyzing to a proper conclusion

But perhaps also "the shortness of human life"?

Anonymous said...

But perhaps also "the shortness of human life"?

Sigh. Chess is a sponge, it will soak up as much life as we let it. But it is time very well spent to look at where we went completely wrong. GMs are different, the bastards -- there will be fewer unclear positions and fewer mis-assessments, so in a sense less work for them.

Anonymous said...


assessment: Black has some tactical weaknesses, the Bf5 possible discovered att on queen, pawns at b7 and e5. White has a weak queenside.

Plan: restrict whites piece play and then attack on QS. I'd probably play Bg4.