maandag 3 maart 2008

Why dislike playing a won position?

In this post Drunknknight gives a beautiful and honest game commentary in which he expresses his frustration about his own play as well as his opponents stubbornness in a lost position. When I read this I got the feeling that in the last phase of the game the main thought on his mind was: "resign, you fool".

I have had to deal with this problem myself in the past. Sometimes even throwing away points, because I started calculating rating points that would be gained instead of variations. But now I have more or less fixed this problem. The remedy that worked for me was adjusting my impatient attitude. When I have a won position this is my attitude:

  1. I focus on enjoying the game and forget about the points to be gained.
  2. I thank my opponent in silence for allowing me to play on in a winning position.
  3. I look for the very best move. There is so much choice when you have a won position. Picking the one that hurts your opponent the most is really a lot of fun.
  4. I don't speed. There is no reason to do this. My position is great, I don't resent looking at it. My opponent probably will.
  5. I realise that my calm yet determined attitude will destroy all hope my opponent has that I might get careless. I keep in mind that he has a really miserable position, and that he will have a hard time looking at it, especially when nothing happens (somehow a lost position is less painfull when you are making moves). He won't be the first that selfdestructs if I take my time to find the best moves.

This attitude really works for me. Not only did I drop the habit of occasionally drawing or even losing won games, I also get more pleasure out of winning these positions.

If you, like I did, experience problems with winning "won" games, try to enjoy the process of winning more than the points after the game. If it won't pull you straight, it will get you on the right track.

6 opmerkingen:

drunknknite zei

'resign, you fool.'

that's pretty funny. a good way to put it.

you bring up some good points, it is much more fun to be looking at and playing a won position than the other side. perhaps by getting an 'attitude' at the board i was inviting him to play on because i was acting as if my play was reckless when in reality i was thinking during his time and had a very good hold on the position. if i had taken more time and been a little calmer perhaps he would have sweated it out even more.

Sciurus zei

There is another reason not mentioned here for myself to dislike playing a won position: I sometimes simply don't know how to use my material advantage to actually checkmate my opponent!

At my low level of play, getting a "won position" more often than not can be achieved by just hanging on, waiting for the opponent to lose material first. However, winning the game requires more than just waiting for a tactical shot. It also requires making a plan for exploiting the advantage. And that can be sometimes tricky, particularly in sudden death time controls.

Phaedrus zei

Thank you Kevin.

Indeed giving your opponent the felling that you are getting careless often gets his hopes up. Even if you are still playing strong moves. But there is also something very frustrating about having a lost position and having to wait for the opponents move.

the issue that you are raising Scirius is of a different kind. If you are not able to win a certain position because you have not yet acquired the necessary skills, the position is not won. It is a game not analysis. So if you don't see how net the point, keep playing for two results (winning or drawing).

A mistake a lot of players make is that they for one reason or another think that the game ought to be won, and then start to force things and take risks. This brings them often in a situation that they are playing for three results (win lose or draw).

If you are somewhat better but not won, just make moves that you think are best, and be aware that being somewhat better doesn't have very much significance under 1800.

Polly zei

The biggest challenge is staying focused enough not to blow the won position. I had a game a few years ago where my opponent dropped two pieces within the first 15 moves. He played on, and some how I let him get counter play and ended out losing. I have to see if I can dig it up. It would make a good Wacky Wednesday post this week.

Phaedrus zei

Hi Polly,

I am looking forward to that game. One of the good things of blogging are the comments. They make you think again about the post. I think that one of the reasons for getting "loose" in a won game is that you feel that your skill level isn't challenged anymore. And of course most of the time you don't need all your skills anymore to win, because suboptimal moves will suffice. This is why you have to adjust the goal from just winning to winning as efficient as possible, by making the very best move. That way there remains a challenge, and you don't get to loose.

likesforests zei

Ironically, lower-rated opponents are the most likely to fight on in positions where someone of equal or higher rating would resign.

But usually they're not trying to be a pain or disrespectful... they may know the position's losing, but they often don't realize it's lost.

If I have a big material advantage, I'm patient, force trades, and try to be prophylactic and soon enough a simple ending is reached.

"I sometimes simply don't know how to use my material advantage to actually checkmate my opponent!"

Heh. Then the position was not won!

"I had a game a few years ago where my opponent dropped two pieces within the first 15 moves."

I would love to see that shocker. You're a good player. :)