Saturday, 2 July 2016

Thinking with your hands

"Think with your head, not with your hands" is a piece of advice I often give at junior chess events. Apart from the goal of getting young players to think better, it also designed to make my life easier as an arbiter. Most "touch move" disputes occur because a player has instinctively grabbed a piece, before deciding what to do with it. Then when the realisation that it was the wrong piece to move hits ("oops my queen is attacked"), all sorts of excuses and stories get told. So to avoid that, I do suggest thinking before moving would have helped the situation.
Nonetheless even experienced players can fall into this trap. Often openings are played on 'auto pilot', when the moves just flow from the fingers. However if you aren't paying attention, you may miss the knock out blow.
The game below finishes in disaster for Black. After 12.Bxf7+ Black has to surrender the rook as 12 ... Kxf7 loses to 13.Ng5+ and 14.Ne6 The culprit is 11. ... Re8?? but it seems this move has been played more than a few times in this position. Even more surprisingly White only found Bxf7+ in around 33% of the games (5 out of 15). In the other games White either played Bc2 or Nf1, both moves that have more to do with the hand than the head.

Braathen,T (2078) - Carlsson,N (2233) [C95]
Hasselbacken Open 2016 Stockholm SWE (9.52), 08.05.2016

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