A number of years ago I saw a cartoon in Chess Monthly which basically claimed "Chess is ultimately unsatisfying. My losses confirm my shortcomings as a player, while my wins only occur due to mistakes by my opponent". Now while many would object to such a bleak world view, it does raise the question of what are the causes of your victories.
The diagrammed position is from a game I played recently. At this stage of the game I was pretty pleased, as I was playing White. I decided to follow the plan of mating Black down the h file by utilising Rf3-h3, it was just a question of how to do it. After considering 6 different moves I decided on 19.Qh6 Now while this looks good, the question I should be asking is "Is it really good?". I guess in a practical sense, if it helps me win the game then it is good, but this may rely on my opponent missing the strongest reply. The game continued 19. ... Qb6 20.Rf3 Again I looked at a couple of alternatives but decided that following my plan was the best. The game rapidly concluded with 20. ... c4+ 21.Bf2 Qxb2 22.Rh3 Ng5 23.Qg7#
So a win for me, but on further investigation both myself and my opponent missed a saving line for him, which would have turned a win into an uphill struggle for me. Under those circumstances can such a win be truly satisfying? Or do you happily take the point and use it as a lesson for the next game?