Intuition and its inconveniences

Intitution, prejudice, or whatever one calls one’s immediate reaction to an idea or a situation, is essential to chess. We analyse a tiny fraction of the possibilities; the strength of computers only illuminates the difference between their calculation and our thought. But precisely because intuition helps to weed out ideas, it can feed laziness. In this recent draw played for Dulwich in the London League, I twice discount the idea of putting the queen on the same diagonal as the opponent’s bishop in order to attack a pawn on b7. The computer, at any rate, thinks I was wrong to.

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1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 f5 4. Bg2 Nf6 5. e3 Bb4 {A Grand Prix Sicilian reversed.} 6. Nge2 O-O 7. O-O d6 8. a3 {This seems to be new here and may be a mistake. In what follows White has to fight for both d3 and d5 and could do with both knights whereas Black&#8217;s dark-squared bishop can&#8217;t get at these squares.} (8. Nd5) (8. d3) 8... Bxc3 9. Nxc3 Be6 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } 10. Nd5 {Possibly a mistake.} ({I think I was worried about} 10. d3 d5 {but} 11. Qb3 {seems to be good}) (10. b3) 10... e4 {I saw this after I moved and now had a long think. The game now becomes a skirmish for central squares slightly sooner than is comfortable for White.} 11. d3 Ne5 {I saw this while he was thinking. My long think had been about his two main alternatives} (11... exd3 12. b3 {is OK for White} ({rather than} 12. Qxd3 Ne5 13. Qc2 c6 {when c4 is likely to fall})) (11... Nxd5 12. cxd5 Bxd5 13. dxe4 {and} 13... Bxe4 ({better} 13... Bc4 14. Re1) {loses to} 14. f3) 12. Nf4 Qe7 ({I was more worried about} 12... Bf7) 13. h4 {Securing the knight on f4 and thus the d3 square} ({I didn&#8217;t want to allow the knight into d3 but the computer thinks White is OK after} 13. b3 g5 14. Nxe6 Qxe6 15. dxe4 fxe4 16. Bb2 Nd3 17. Bd4 c5 18. Bc3 {with a good dark-squared bishop and f3 coming}) 13... Nxd3 (13... exd3 14. b3) 14. Nxd3 exd3 {I was relieved by this.} ({I was worried about} 14... Bxc4 15. Nf4 Bxf1 16. Bxf1 {when I felt Black would be able to mobilise his pawns though White&#8217;s unchallenged bishops look good.. My opponent didn&#8217;t like this because he wanted to get rid of the f4 knight and the computer agrees with him.}) 15. Qxd3 d5 {I think this caught me by surprise. It makes sense for Black to break quickly as the existing structure might be pleasant for White if he had time to develop.} ({the computer suggests} 15... Ne4 {when if} 16. Bxe4 fxe4 17. Qxe4 {Black has} 17... Qf7 {threatening Bh3 and Bc4}) 16. cxd5 (16. b3 {seemed a bit weakening.} 16... dxc4 17. bxc4 Rad8 (17... Qc5)) 16... Rad8 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } 17. e4 ({Here I overestimated the position I get in a few moves and thought I was choosing activity over material.} 17. Qb3 {is probably better; the second time in the game I underestimate this idea, not liking to expose my queen too early. After} 17... Bxd5 18. Bxd5+ Rxd5 19. Qxb7 Qd6 {the computer suggests freeing the bishop with} 20. e4 {and prefers White}) 17... fxe4 18. Bxe4 Bxd5 (18... Nxe4 19. Qxe4 Rxd5 20. Re1 Rd6 21. Bf4 Rc6 {is good for White}) 19. Bxd5+ Rxd5 ({better than} 19... Nxd5 20. Bg5 Nf6 21. Qb3+) 20. Qb3 {I hoped to show that the bishop was better than the knight here. But Black has too much activity and the knight will be very happy on d5.} 20... c6 {Hereabouts my opponent offered a draw} 21. Be3 a6 22. Rad1 Qf7 {I missed this} 23. Rxd5 Nxd5 24. Bd4 Re8 25. Qd3 ({I was tempted by} 25. Kg2 {which loses to} 25... Nf4+) 25... Qe6 26. Kg2 Qg4 {Now I realised I was in difficulties as Nf4+ is threatened and White has no very convenient answer} 27. Be3 {Here I offered a draw and my opponent rather surprisingly accepted. Black is better but maybe my opponent had underestimated his position earlier and had been playing to equalise. A short draw but quite an interesting one.} *
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