Swindling My Way To Victory – First Steps To Chess Improvement

Hello guys and gals, chess brothers and sisters in arms. There is another treat for you today. I would like to talk about lost positions in chess. Some people believe that the only honorable thing would be to resign immediately when you are down a piece, or a rook, or a piece and a rook. You can do that, but you will deprive yourself of a chance to be creative and resourceful. Those set of skills will transpose to other positions, and can come in handy even if you are not losing the game.

Instead of simply resigning, you can acknowledge that you are lost, do your best to complicate matters and challenge your opponent to find his way to victory. Imagine yourself as a wounded, cornered animal and fight back. Your fate might be sealed, but you can be very dangerous because you have nothing left to lose, as your position was in shambles anyway. Besides, if it doesn’t work out, you can always resign afterwards. As usual, I have a few examples for you. Just know that these are my low level games, so they are fine for improving players.

Here we have a game where the losing side tries to play aggressive but sound moves. The opponent has found some defense, but not a good one. He was a lot worse afterwards and lost the game. This is a great example why you shouldn’t resign at the first sign of trouble. You are not playing against Stockfish, Leela, Komodo or any other type of Skynet terminator, you are playing against humans. Humans don’t like to be attacked and, like other organic creatures, they make mistakes.

As I’ve said already, when you are losing, all bets are off. Sometimes sound moves will not work. In the second game, the best engine move was to give up the queen. Obviously, if I give up the queen here, I could pretty much resign. So, I’ve chosen the option that loses the game in one move, if the opponent is able to find it. Well… it’s safe to say that it paid off. It is a drastic example, but the point is that sometimes it’s ok to play “hope chess” when you are lost, but only when you’re lost.

I wanted to show you the example of a game where the winning side played well and converted the advantage into a win. In most cases, you will actually see something similar to the third game. The opponent played well in a winning position, insured his king’s safety, and he was able to simplify the position. That is a good plan for a winning side if you can’t outright checkmate your opponent.

You might be wondering why am I showing you this ridiculous game. It is simple; I would like to tell you something about concentration while playing chess. Many otherwise winnable games can be drawn or even lost because you’ve lost focus. I am talking about that feeling when you are coasting to victory but you suddenly stalemate your opponent or allow a nasty fork or anything similar to that. Chess is not like most of other sports.

In basketball, the game can be effectively over before the last quarter. In football (soccer if you are from USA) you can lead 5-0, and if you lose focus, it will be 5-1, so no big deal. In chess, that is not the case. You mustn’t lose focus before the game is done. If you do, the consequences can be extreme like in that last example.

Before I wrap this up, let’s sum it up:
1. Playing out losing positions will force you to be creative, making you a better player in the process
2. If you are losing – complicate things, if you are winning – simplify
3. In a lost position, even “hope chess” is acceptable, play tricky and attacking moves to your leisure
4. Don’t relax if you are winning, never lose focus

In the end, I would like to say thanks to all of you still reading this article. Hopefully, you will find it instructive and interesting.

Till another time,