Blunders

Some authors recommend mental routines to prevent blunders, for instance: consider all the forcing moves available on your own move or possible as responses to your preferred candidate. I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to stick to this and I wonder how many players do. In the following two games, I overlook a simple undermining tactic in a good ending. I was lucky only to drop half a point and am hoping that this particular tactic is now branded on the cortex, but we shall see.

What I overlooked in both games was a capture by a bishop that I had been trying to incarcerate. If human beings can be thought of as fields of force, this is no doubt even truer of chess pieces. Maybe some pieces seem to emanate less force than others.

The first game was played for Dulwich in the London League:

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1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 {A line popular in the 1970s and still quite interesting.} 4... Bb4 ({My previous essay in this line was a rather lucky win with} 4... d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bb5 Qd6 7. O-O Be7 8. d4 Nxc3 9. bxc3 e4 10. Ne5 O-O 11. Bxc6 ({perhaps better} 11. Nxc6) 11... bxc6 12. a4 Qe6 {now White&#8217;s knight is embarrassed} 13. f4 exf3 14. Qxf3 {and Black blundered with} 14... Qd5 15. Nxc6) 5. Qc2 O-O 6. Nd5 a5 ({Keene and Steam developed an interesting line, I think for Korchnoi&#8217;s 1978 match with Karpov, involving} 6... Re8 7. Qf5 (7. Bd3 {is also possible})) 7. Bd3 (7. Qf5 {might be good here too but I wasn&#8217;t sure how the sharp lines go}) 7... h6 8. a3 (8. b3 {might run into} 8... a4) 8... Bc5 9. b3 d6 10. Bb2 (10. Nxf6+ Qxf6) 10... Be6 (10... Nxd5) 11. Nxf6+ Qxf6 12. O-O Qe7 13. Bf5 {Not wanting to allow f5.} 13... Bb6 14. Bxe6 fxe6 {Now White can hope to restrain and ultimately attack the pawn mass. But Black makes good use of the f file.} (14... Qxe6 15. d4 e4 16. d5 {is good for White}) 15. Qe4 (15. d4 {allows a promising exchange sacrifice with} 15... Rxf3 16. gxf3 exd4) 15... Rad8 16. Qg4 Rf5 (16... d5 {can be met with} 17. d3 ({not} 17. Nxe5 Nxe5 18. Bxe5 dxc4) ({The computer likes} 17. b4) 17... d4 18. exd4 Bxd4 19. Nxd4 Nxd4 20. Bxd4 exd4 ({or} 20... Rxd4 21. Qe2)) 17. d3 Rdf8 18. Rad1 Qf6 19. Qg3 Kh7 20. Ba1 (20. d4 {runs into} 20... e4 21. Nd2 (21. d5 Qxb2) 21... d5) 20... g5 (20... Bc5 21. d4 {is interesting}) 21. d4 exd4 22. Nxd4 Nxd4 23. exd4 Qg6 24. b4 axb4 25. axb4 Rf4 26. c5 Ba7 27. Qc3 Qf7 28. Rd2 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> White may be a little better here.} 28... d5 {This felt like a concession. Black was short of time.} 29. Re2 Re4 {Unnecessarily dropping a pawn.} 30. Rxe4 dxe4 {Time control; now a quickplay finish. White is winning a pawn and should have good winning chance, but it&#8217;s not trivial.} 31. Qe3 Qf5 (31... Qf4 {also fails against} 32. Re1 Kg8 ({or} 32... Qxe3 33. Rxe3 Rf4) 33. Qxf4 Rxf4 34. Bc3 ({better than} 34. g3 Rf3)) 32. Re1 Kg8 33. Re2 c6 34. Qxe4 Qxe4 35. Rxe4 Ra8 36. Bc3 Kf7 37. g3 {With the idea of keeping the bishop cramped, but this makes it harder to make a passed pawn on the kingside.} 37... Bb8 38. Kg2 Ra3 39. Re3 g4 40. h3 h5 41. Bb2 ({The attempt to force a kingside pawn through with} 41. hxg4 hxg4 42. f3 {fails to} 42... Ra2+ 43. Kf1 Bxg3) 41... Ra2 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> } 42. Rb3 {I was pleased with this idea, switching my attention to Black&#8217;s cramped bishop and the queenside pawns.} 42... e5 43. hxg4 hxg4 44. b5 (44. dxe5 Ke6 {seems to help Black.}) 44... cxb5 45. Rxb5 Ba7 ({not} 45... Ra7 46. c6) 46. d5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> This looked very good, but I was missing something.} (46. Rxb7+ {should win.}) 46... Ke8 ({Both teams&#8217; top boards were watching and spotted} 46... Bxc5 {which should hold though I might have won on time anyway.White can keep the extra pawn and exchange bishops but Black&#8217;s king is active enough to keep the balance after e.g.} 47. Rxb7+ Kf6 48. Rb5 Kf5 49. Rxc5 Rxb2) 47. d6 (47. Bc1 {would eliminate the risk.}) 47... Kd8 (47... Bxc5 {is still available though White can then play} 48. Rxc5 Rxb2 49. Rxe5+ Kd7 50. Re4 {with some winning chances in a difficult ending}) 48. Bxe5 {Now it&#8217;s easy.} 48... Kd7 49. Rxb7+ Kc6 50. Rc7+ Kd5 51. d7 Bxc5 52. d8=Q+ {and Black resigned} *
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The second game was played for Pimlico in the Public Service League.

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1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 c6 {This move works well against 2.g3 but is less convincing here.} 3. Nf3 d6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. g3 Be7 {This seems a little passive.} (6... g6) 7. Bg2 O-O 8. O-O Na6 9. a3 h6 10. Qc2 ({Avoiding} 10. b4 c5) 10... Bg4 11. h3 Bh5 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> Now I decided to shut his bishop out. He had seen this but felt he would be able to revive the bishop later. White obviously contracts some weaknesses but I think it&#8217;s a reasonable approach.} 12. f4 Bg6 13. f5 Bh7 14. Rd1 Qc8 15. g4 Nc5 16. b4 Ncd7 {From now on I am angling for the b5 break but improve my pieces first.} 17. Be3 Ne5 18. Qb3 Rd8 19. Rac1 Nfd7 20. Ne4 {Deterring Nc5 after b5.} 20... Rb8 21. b5 ({Both players miss} 21. Nb5 {winning for White.}) 21... c5 {I felt this was a major concession.} 22. Nf3 Nxf3+ 23. exf3 {Although this reduces the value of White&#8217;s kingside majority it allows him to contest the e5 square.} 23... Nf6 24. Nc3 b6 25. Bf4 Bf8 26. Nd5 Nxd5 27. Rxd5 f6 28. Rcd1 Kh8 29. Bxd6 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> I was very optimistic here and felt I could safely take the pawn. But Black more gets more counterplay than I expected and my opponent rightly identified this as a mistake after the game.} 29... Bxd6 30. Rxd6 Rxd6 31. Rxd6 Bg8 32. Qd3 (32. Bf1 {might be better.}) 32... a6 33. a4 (33. bxa6 {is worth considering. But I didn&#8217;t see what he was up to.}) 33... axb5 34. axb5 (34. cxb5 {is worth considering.}) 34... Qc7 (34... Qf8 {may be better}) 35. f4 { <span class="PgnWidget-anchor-diagram">[]</span> I had simply overlooked my opponent&#8217;s reply. This is wrong, but White is no longer much better in any case as the threat is not so easy to meet.} ({If} 35. Rd7 {Black has good counterplay with} 35... Qg3 {and the a file is handy.} (35... Qe5 36. Qe4 Qxe4 37. fxe4 Bxc4 38. Bf1 Bb3 {is also possible}) (35... Bxc4 36. Rxc7 Bxd3 37. Bf1 {still gives White chances.})) 35... Bxc4 {My opponent had much less time and offered a draw here, which I accepted after a few minutes&#8217; thought. White is clearly worse and I was lucky to escape.} *
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