Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Think with your head, not with your hands

"Think with your head, not with your hands" comes in a close second to "Look at all checks and captures" in a list of my most repeated chess sayings. Getting new players to decide upon a move instead of just grabbing the tallest piece on the board is one of the great struggles of a chess coach.
However one of the examples I've used in the past did not come from a game between beginners, but from a game between two of Australia's greatest players. In the 1980 Australian Chess Championship the game between Darryl Johansen and Ian Rogers ended dramatically when Johansen played 29.Qb5?? and Rogers replied with the obvious 29. ... Rxb5. What happened (according to Australian Chess into the Eighties by Ian Rogers) was that Johansen moved his queen to c6 (the best square for it), but did not remove his hand from the piece. He then decided to think about his move a little more and moved it back to the starting square. Or so he thought. Instead he moved it back to b5 (rather than b6) and removed his hand from the piece, thereby completing his move. And Rogers then took the queen.
At the time there was some debate about the rights and wrongs of the incident, but if it was a car race, such a thing may well be termed a 'racing incident'. The moral of course being 'Think first, move second'


Kevin Bonham said...

Ultra-pedantic comment: when Johansen took his hand off his piece he didn't complete the move, he just made it. The move is "completed" when the clock is pressed, although in this case it makes no difference since once the hand is released from a legal move, no other move is possible.

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