Lesson 2: When ahead, don’t overthink

Back to Lesson 1

This is not a ‘sexy’ lesson with a big wow-moment, but it is the sort of subtle thing which is often overlooked.

My opponent, rated 1150, made life difficult for himself out of the opening, having to displace his King and losing castling rights after 1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d3? dxe4 4.dxe4 Qxd1 5.Kxd1.

He lost a pawn shortly after and after his 19.d4, this was the position:

Black has a winning advantage and there are a few good moves here. There might be a temptation to look for a forcing continuation which converts the advantage to a win quickly, but there is no need for that. When you don’t need to calculate, don’t calculate. It wastes time and energy.

Instead, if there is a natural looking move which helps your plan (here the plan is to trade down and win the pawn-up endgame, or take advantage if a better opportunity comes along in the meantime) and is safe. Therefore 19…cxd4+ should be considered. It meets both your aims, happens to be forcing (since it is a check) and can be played almost instantly.

Continuations might be:

20.Nxd4 Be5 21.N2f3 Bxd4+ 22.Bxd4 Rac8+

20.Nxd4 Be5 21.N2f3 Bxd4+ 22.Nxd4 Nxe4+

20.Bxd4 Bf4 21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.b3 Bb5

Back to Lesson 1

Lesson 3

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About becomingachessmaster

I am a 46-year old chess player with a goal to be as good a chess player as I can possibly be. I hope you find some value from following my experiences.
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4 Responses to Lesson 2: When ahead, don’t overthink

  1. Pingback: Lesson 1: On (almost) every move, consider ALL Checks, Captures and Threats | Becoming a Chess Master

  2. I really love this series! Learnt a lot! Thanks you for this good job. Looking forward for reading more!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the comment. I am glad you like it. I used to have these lessons from my games on Anki cards for review, but there was something about Anki that I just didn’t like; can’t put my finger on it, just didn’t like it. During this week I was thinking about how to capture them again, because they are valuable, and I thought the site might be a good idea. It means I can access them anywhere, and maybe others can learn from them, or even point out things I couldn’t see.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Lesson 3: Beware a draw offer from a stronger player | Becoming a Chess Master

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