US Chess Championship Blunder

The US Chess Championship is currently being played at the beautiful Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.  The website is http://uschesschamps.com, and they even have live coverage with Jennifer Shahade and Ben Finegold giving “play by play”, analysis and post game interviews.  They also have a “Fantasy Chess” league, which is pretty fun, and a very original idea.  I am very impressed with the coverage!

Here is a news story that shows more about the tournament

I sent out one of my chess tactics e-mail newsletters earlier this week from one of the US Championship games, and got a lot of feedback about it.  You can read this newsletter here: http://archive.aweber.com/tacticstime/KFwPU/h/Tactics_Time_Newsletter_US.htm

In the newsletter I showed this position, with black to movewhich was a real shocker.  Here is the game it came from:

 
I mentioned the main takeaways that I had from the game, which were:
 
  • We ALL make mistakes – even terrible blunders.  If a Grandmaster can make a mistake like this, don’t be too hard on yourself when you make a mistake.
  • You have to think critically on every move – there are no take backs in chess, and every move is important
  • Be on the lookout for tactics on every move, the opening, endgame, etc
  • Don’t get so wrapped up in complex plans and theories, that you are missing the obvious
  • Be careful in unusual openings, or unfamiliar territory, AKA “out of book”
  • Visualize what the position will look like before you make a move
  • Don’t assume that your opponent made a good move, even if he is a strong player. 
 Here is some of the feedback that I got:
 
Hi Tim,
 
I wanted to take a moment to thank for your Tactics series newsletters. I coach scholastic chess and I’ve used a few of your recent tactical “shots” with my kids. This one on the US Chess Championship was an excellent example on two levels: first, always be on the look out for a free piece (one of my continuing teaching points), and second, always remember your opponent is human and might make a mistake – if a Grandmaster can do it, anyone can.
 
Regards,
 
Coach Ronn
United States Chess Federation Certified Coach
Author of Chess Handbook for Parents and Coaches
 

I have looked at a ton of games with amateurs, and a lot of players miss “grab a free piece” type tactics. Especially on turn based sites like redhotpawn.com where it might be a day or two between moves. Even players in the 1300-1400 range miss these types of moves fairly frequently. I have some of these types of problems in my database that I sell, but don’t include too many in my newsletter because then I will get complains that the problem was “too easy” lol.

It is interesting also because I sometimes do chess tactics on chess.com with their chess tactics trainer. One of the nice features of this is that you can see the score that a chess tactics problem has (what percentage of people got it correct). They sometimes have a chess tactic where the solution is just to grab a piece. These problems often have surprisingly low scores – like only 50-60% of the people get it correct. Chess players sometimes get in a trance where they are always looking for queen sacs in chess tactics problems, and then miss the obvious.

Paul Anderson, who writes an excellent chess newsletter at: http://cschess.webs.com, wrote:

I loved seeing the 11 move game, as I had just blundered to Anthea and felt like an idiot.
 

Dan Rusch wrote:

Thanks, it really does help to see that 2500 rated players make blunders too

Bill Broich wrote:

Thanks Tim! This gives me hope. Even at the highest levels players make horrible mistakes.

So I hope this game can serve as a reminder to everyone out there who suffers when they lose, that even the best players blunder, and losing is part of the game.






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