Saturday 5 January 2019

Blowing up

One of the questions I often see asked is "What is the difference between a 2000 rated player and a 1600 rated player?" There are of course lots of good answers, but one thing that I think separates players of different skill levels is what they know about the position in front of them.
At the lower levels, this understanding extends as far as the material balance. Climbing the ladder you will see extra features such as open files or passed pawns added to the list. But it isn't just what these features are, but which ones are more important than others that stronger players understand.
Often this shows up when a lower ranked player fails to understand what is happening in the position. Such confusion can then create uncertainty in calculation, before the player self destructs. I often see it in my own games btw, when post game engine analysis reveals I blundered because I panicked in a position where a bit of thought would have shown me an obvious defensive move or plan.
Here is an old example, where Black did not understand that White's plan involved putting pieces on c3 and e1, and as a result retreated the bishop to the wrong square (9... Ba5 was best). After that Black played a succession of second and third best moves before walking into a mate.

Staunton,Howard - Brodie,Alfred [C44]
London knockout London (1.1), 27.05.1851

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