Why I'll Never Find a Move Like This...

  • erik
  • | Jan 19, 2009 at 5:58 PM
  • | Posted in: erik's Blog
  • | 3062 reads

I'll confess - I generally spend less than 30 seconds looking at any given move in any given game. But every once in a while a move will come up that is so critical and where I believe there should be a forcing win. And when that happens I can stare at the board for days. In the game below I took 5 days to make a move, and still didn't get it. In fact, it wasn't even on my list of candidate moves. So sad.

Why not? Because it wasn't a forcing move. It was one of those weirdo moves that only very strong players see. It was almost like a waiting move. I mean, my opponent was so tied up in knots (sorry dude!) that he couldn't improve his position (despite having soundly outplayed me for most of the game).

I get in these kinds of positions particularly when I am in danger of losing the game and go aggro-offensive. I don't know why I can't play like this normally, but anyway, here is the position - see if you can find the winner...


Can you find the best move in the diagram above?

I couldn't :( It was too subtle, too patient.

Below is the game with full annotations by Rybka.

So I looked at everything (I thought). Bxf7, Nxf7, Qf5, Bxg7. I figured that Nxf7 was the best move and saw the whole combo, but couldn't get around the perpetual check. My opponent saw it too (which is why we drew early). But if I had seen the key move that keeps the pressure but stops the perpetual threat... 31. Bc4!! I would have won quite a pretty one. Instead, I won a good learning lesson.

Maybe next time...


  • 8 years ago


    I hope to one day be able to see moves like that also :) The Chess Mentor Program on chess.com is helping me to see small things like this though :)

  • 8 years ago


    Thanks for the post (and everything else you do here of course).  I never would have made that move and only found it because of your post and the fact that no other "pointless" move seemed to make sense. I am not as good as you, but isn't it a great feeling when you do find a move like this? And we all know what it's like to play against someone who makes this kind of move. We think, "Huh?" and then promptly lose :)

  • 8 years ago


    Really nice position, and yes, a tough move to find.


    I think this might be a good example of the sort of position John Nunn talks about in "Secrets of Practical Chess" when he's critiquing Kotov's "Think Like a Grandmaster". Kotov says, in essence: draw up a list of candidate moves, analyse each in turn, once and only once, then play the best move. But as Nunn says, sometimes you discover something during analysis which suggests new candidate moves should be added to the list. In this case, I doubt that anybody would immediately think that Bc4 was a candidate move: it serves no obvious purpose. But if you analyse that tempting line starting Nxf7 and see that it would win if only Black didn't have a perpetual check with Qe1-h4, then, noticing that Black is badly tied up and hardly able to move his pieces, you might think to yourself: "OK, lets go back to the start: is there some way I can stop this perpetual check defence without giving my opponent a way out?" And in this way you might, on a good day, come up with Bc4.


    Yes, chess is hard :)

  • 8 years ago

    NM ih8sens

    I actually saw it! :D  Of course 'look for a subtle move' didn't hurt :).


    The idea (or so I thought... perhaps rybka dissagrees) is to allow the queen to play to f5 without threat of perpetual check with Qe1+ (bishop can now block).


    Maybe my reasoning is wrong!!! I don't know ... quite frankly I never did figure out why black can't just waste a few moves...


    I'll have to take another look!

  • 8 years ago


    Erik, this really looks like a draw ... I couldn't find a damn thing leading to victory.

  • 8 years ago


    Erik, I looked at the diagram for several minutes without finding the win... of course I also focused on forcing moves. I think (without hints) these quiet winning moves are the domain of FMs and higher... certainly experts could overlook this.

    DukeRebuke> I would have a really hard time seeing a queen-sac mate combo in a real game

    I usually spot those moves. After all a Qx::something:: is very forcing. :)

  • 8 years ago


    I saw Bc4, but only after you said several times, 'you have to look for the quiet move'. I don't get it, I would have a really hard time seeing a queen-sac mate combo in a real game but then if it is in a puzzle book with the phrase '3 moves until mate' then you actually look it since you know something dramatic has to happen in three moves.


    But otherwise a tough move to see.

  • 8 years ago


    A draw is always better than a loss! Smile

  • 8 years ago


    well, i didn't win :) i drew, because i couldn't see the winning move!

  • 8 years ago


    Nice job on the win though. It wasn't easy for me to see either.

Back to Top

Post your reply: