Sometimes it's O.K. to be Angry

[previous round]

Despite my professed goal of not getting upset after losing, there's a way I sometimes get upset that I won't correct. That's when I think my opponent has played "wrong" moves, and my position should be great, but I'm not able to find the variations that match my intuitive evaluation. Then when I lose that game, in which I would have liked to "teach my opponent a lesson," I am very upset! The truth has been obscured by my own bad play! My opponent will carry on his day to day life, without realizing the errors of his ways! The horror! The horror!

I am not going to try to stop being upset in these situations, because to me a very important dimension of chess is as a battle of ideas. I am largely interested in chess because I want to discuss ideas. I love playing a game against an opponent who believes a certain position is good for them, while I think it is good for me. Or similarly to play them again and again and again in that position, e.g. have a heated analysis session, trying to get to the truth. I have produced a lot of my best chess from the passion this dimension of the game awakens in me. And so, I was upset after this round 7 game, and I won't apologize or try to change that.

Overall this was a piece of a very fun and productive event. There are always going to be disappointments as well as achievements in any endeavor. That the endeavor is difficult enough to include errors and disappointments is part of what makes it interesting to begin with. So, here we are, one of my "learning experiences" from this event:

And that's that. I haven't studied my games for a while, but if I ever do study a game of mine, it will probably be this one!

This same round something very difficult happened for Kayden: he lost abysmally, hanging a piece and then a queen in the opening. He needed 2/3 to get a norm, which seemed quite doable, but after this debacle he needed 2/2 on the final day, when he'd be playing IM Taylor and the strongest player in the tournament: Yankovsky. Meanwhile, Yankovsky only needed another 1 point out of 2 on the final day to make his norm.


  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    Come to think of it, you were playing the Najdorf, so no big deal.

  • 6 years ago

    IM dpruess

    i figured out a lot about this game today, between chess improv, and then an analysis session with Shanky. it feels so good to learn something!!!


    two conclusions:

    A. black should play Qc8 instead of 19...f5: playing f5 weakens the g6 pawn and thus gives white a target on the kingside to create a weakness. Qc8 putting the bishop on g4 is very inconvenient for white, as his queen probably ends up on h1, and his rooks can't use d1 then.

    B. after f5? gxf Rxf6 Qe2, black's still got a way to fight in the game with Bc5 Bg5 Rf4, sacing either exchange! white may have a slight edge in some variations but it's actually very complicated and gives black objectively reasonable chances.

  • 6 years ago


    I guess all chess matches arn't supposed to be easy.

  • 6 years ago


    Going through the game, and reading David's comments, I recalled a problem from Silman's (yeah, spurred by the Gambitking debacle I actually re-discovered Silman) book Reassess Your Chess Workbook 

















    NOTE: BLACK TO MOVE in the above diagram

    Silman asks: If you had to choose between 7...Bg4, 7...Nbd7, 7...Na6, 7...Ne8, 7...g6 and 7...h6, which would you play?

    It turns out that the "correct" move (and as I verified later on, most popular among the GMs) is 7...Ne8. Here is Silman's comment:

    Quick development is a good idea, but only if you are placing your pieces on squares where they can work with the other pieces toward a common goal! In other words, don't just move them for the sake of saying they are developed! Find their optimum homes and go out of your way to get them there.

    The way I see it, David misinterpreted Yankovsky's weird moves as "patzer play", and you can see it in his comment to 16.Ng3. The objective truth is, however, that even though David was quicker to develop his pieces, they had no targets to attack! At no time in the game was Yankovsky's position worse, despite the seeming "lag" in development. As it turned out, despite formally better development, David's position did have some weaknesses, i.e. the weak e5 pawn, the stranded knight on "a" file.

    The bottom line is, one should not dismiss the opponent's play only because the "general principles" are not followed, and some pieces are seemingly mindlessly moved about. It is all about achieving the optimal placement, and sometimes your opponent will make sequences of moves that only seem pointless. 

  • 6 years ago


    Natalia! That's very unfair! dpruess presents several questions but you ironize and go? tsk tsk tsk

  • 6 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Those tricky Russians... UndecidedLaughing

  • 6 years ago


    I think that all Black's challenges started after 7...d5, which allow White a center break; also, you made the annotation comment that you wanted to continue develpment, which I think is why you didn't make the adjustments to positional feature after you blockade b8-h2 diagonal with 15...e5 and you lost your chances for any mating combination threats with queen/ bishop battery along this diagonal, but then again you would need a few tempi to config this battery, which would have signal it to White; also, I think that Black is behind in tempi. Consequently, I agree with you that you should be mad at your self for not playing chess at the level you are at; by the way, I as many other play are also mad at my/our blunders and that's how we learn. As alway thanks for sharing your annotations and games, so a weaker player like myself may learn from them.  

  • 6 years ago



  • 6 years ago

    IM dpruess

    thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts on this game. i wrote a long response but it was deleted by chrome spinning out after i submitted it :-( and i have to get on with work.

  • 6 years ago


    Appreciate the detailed description of what it is like to be an IM and confused by a position.  Makes the rest of us feel not so isolated.  I was curious what my software would think of the end of the game.

    Hiarcs 13MP likes 21...Na5 but prefers  22...Bh3  23.Re1 Qxc3 evaluating at about even.

    After the game continuation 22...Qxc3   23.Bb2 the eval is +0.2 for White if Black plays 23...Qc8  24.Bxe5 Rf7 but after the game's 23...Qc7 the eval goes to +0.8 for White. 

    After 25...b6 the eval goes to +1.8 (+0.7 after 25...Nc6) but only if White follows up with 26.Bg2 looking to grab the e5 pawn.  After 26.Qxa6 black can still fight for a draw after 26...Bd7 (+1.0 for White).

  • 6 years ago


    21...Bd4 I think would be good, trying to exchange the light square bishop and weaken the white king's defence.

  • 6 years ago


     David: Your opponent plays ugly, and then inveigles an ugly win. That's agin the rules of chess aethethetics; that is, or should be, deeply offensive to Cassia.

    I cannot suggest the solution, being a patser+, but can feel the pain. Excellent post. 

  • 6 years ago


    very clear enough IM dpruess. one last question if you don't mind:

    After realizing that the position is futile, to whom the burden should rest more:

    1. from the losing player to act courteously and resign, or

    2. from the winning player to wait patiently by not asking the losing player to resign.

    To many in the chess gaming community, this matter remains hanging. Not resigning at a point when defeat is inevitable is frowned upon. Asking the losing player to resign on the other hand can be viewed by the losing player as rude and could result to extending the game until the final checkmate or until the final second of the clock.

    I wouldn't mind if you don't answer this here since this is not the topic of your blog and this has nothing to do with your game but it is quite related to your answer earlier. Since i'd been asking myself this question for a long time, maybe you would care to express your view.


  • 6 years ago


    Perhaps the error in your thought process at move 21 was that you have to "do something".   Sometimes there isn't anything to do.  You write like the position is tractable, but I think that it isn't.  If the position is intractable, it's an error to burn your clock trying to solve it.

  • 6 years ago


    This is something I have gone through too, David. Some moves seem to go against the most basic gospels of good play; it's as if to win by playing those kinds of moves is a sin!

    But you have to remember: a move is only bad if you can point out specific problems with it, and if there are concrete ways to exploit them.

    When you were thinking of what to do after you played ...f5, you had trouble. A position that just looks good (or maybe just any position coming out of "unprincipled" moves!) but can list nothing that it can do to set problems for the opponent isn't actually a great position, is it? I would suggest maybe using the mindset you had when you had trouble finding a move, and apply that to your evaluation method as a whole: don't judge a position as good or bad until you actually take a look at what your position is achieving.

    I too would be tempted to just look at a beautiful d5 knight and claim "white is obviously better." But what if it didn't attack anything useful? What if it was an endgame where pawns are all on the kingside? In that case it would be more useful on some kingside square of course! Always think in terms of the functionality of the position as a whole; not just a few readily visible, but superficial (like a weak pawn) features that are not good or bad in themselves.

  • 6 years ago


    Glad to see I am not the only one ;-)

  • 6 years ago

    IM dpruess

    sollevy, it's always possible that in a given position my opponent's queen is attacked by a pawn and i don't notice it, and resign because i am down a piece. after the fact, many strong masters have looked dumb for resigning bc they did not see they still had a continuation that saved them.

    however, if you don't see that continuation, it's actually all the same whether you resign or keep playing. you see what i mean? if you're down a piece against a master (without compensation) you have zero hope. so the only reason a post-game analysis would have shown a resigned master game was still winnable would be because of one particular concrete variation at their disposal. but since they didn't see it, they would lose whether they resigned or played on.

    i hope i explained that sufficiently clearly.

  • 6 years ago


    I thought the final position is still worth playing, at least on our level, because of black's two bishops, active rooks and white's weakness on the kingside. Or is it the unwritten gentleman's code (if there is such) among the masters that made you resign right-away having been down a piece? I had seen master games that were resigned after losing a piece that post-game analysis showed still winnable. But of course, you'd been looking at this game for a long time and you wouldn't miss that possibility. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

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