Monday, January 14, 2008

A Brief Excuse for My Lameosity, Plus Points to Ponder from Polly and Wang

In the comments to my last, Liquid Egg Product rightly asks for the promised game post but I must admit I didn't bring it with me today and also, I haven't got it in the kind of shape I require to make it's embarrassing to post an annotated game and have someone comment something like "Nice game, but if he plays 14. . h6 you're absolutely, completely, totally busted!" and not have said that yourself. Anyway, I don't think it will be posted until Wednesday.

I did have enough time to note that it was a pretty lucky win, on the order of some game I read about from like 1907 where the guy got the brilliancy prize for his "extraordinary deep pawn sacrifice" and after he'd safely pocketed the gold coins he 'fessed up that he'd outright blundered a pawn and then attacked his ass off in pure desperation. I already noted that this was the case here, but now that I looked at the game a little, even more so! Well, it was one of those games where I made all of my mistakes at the beginning and he made his at the end, and we all know which of those is better!

Meanwhile, a couple of thought-provoking posts that I wanted to direct your attention to:

Wang on Searching for the truth (be the next you, part 1, chapter 2). Great exploration of the questions of: What is chess, and why do we play it?

What I’m saying is that we should be personalizing our chess experience and not try to monkey what someone else has done before. It is good to gain and from what someone else has done before you, but that should be the beginning of your journey of self discovery, not the ending.

Absolutely right on, beautifully said! I've noted before here on this blog that various players have used seemingly radically different methods to achieve big ratings gains as adults, and that tells me that no one has "The Answer" about training; you really do have to work it out for yourself. A really good trainer might assist, but there aren't many of those available (and affordable).

Do what feels right to you, check the results, and adjust your approach accordingly. Herein lie the seeds of all wisdom, Grasshopper.

Polly of Castling Queen Side has a very interesting post on the psychology of the draw offer:

I think when a player changes his goal from trying to beat his higher rated opponent, to simply drawing the opponent his play changes. Turning down the draw seems to unsettle the player.

In my own career I haven't offered very many draws, usually only when the position is sterile, but I certainly turned down quite a few when I was younger and went on to lose. I now accept draws as a normal part of the game, and also firmly believe nowadays that a draw is always better than a loss, though how I could ever have thought otherwise is a mystery to me...

As far as the psychological component I note that the last couple of times I turned down draw offers, in this game from the Western States Open and last week, the opponent did play some weak moves pretty soon afterward. I think draw offers from a position of hope (I sure hope he takes it!) are a bad idea, because when turned down they leave the offerer in a bad position psychologically; "Drats, my easy draw is not coming and now I have to tough it out!"

There are lots of reasons that a draw may the logical result of a game of chess, but the fact that you're hoping for one isn't among them!


wang said...

Thanks for the props Robert. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Don't worry, I have yet to play a flawless or even near flawless game. My opponent always blunders one more time than me when I win. I always blunder one more time than him when I lose. It's just the way it goes. Don't feel the need to justify it. You never justify your losses, you just take responsibility for them. I see no reason to do the same with your wins.

wang said...

Ummm.. should read "I see no reason not to do the same with your wins...

chessboozer said...

Hi Robert,
I think its best only to offer draws if you are at a disadvantage/ if you get psyched after a rejection you are only going to loose quicker in a game you probably would have lost anyway. If the draw is accepted it is basically a free half point. If the game is equal, I prefer to keep on playing until one person wins or it is definately going to be a draw, after all on move one the game is equal but very few would offer a draw at this point. Offering a draw in an equal but complex position is a little uncompetitive, it is playing the rating/ego game rather than chess. Of course there are other factors such as knowing you are tired/off your game. Often where the Psychology comes in is when people take draws against higher rated players in a position they would never take a draw against a lower rated player and vice versa. If winning positions are not played out a player will never reach his full potential. The reason players collapse after a draw is rejected is probably that they are now fully aware that the opponent is fully aware of his/her advantage while previously their was hope in ignorance. If they collapse after having a draw rejected in what they see as an equal or winning position they are lacking confidence in their own analytical skills and need to take one of my mediatation courses which I offer to chess players at a special rate of $2,000/hour

Anonymous said...

I love draws. They give me the feeling of being a "real" chessplayer because drawing is what GM's do all the time.

Love that story on the brilliancy. After work, I'll get a chance to peruse your game...