Wednesday 4 March 2020

When do you know you are winning?

One of the difficulties I face when playing Correspondence Chess is knowing if I am really winning or not. I may think I have a better position, but I don't always know if it is a won position.
This also occurs when I am facing players rated a lot higher than may. Time and again I have chosen a line that wins me a pawn, or gives me a strong looking attack, only to find I have failed to assess the position correctly. Why this is sometimes an issue is that your decisions can be different depending on whether you are pushing for a win, or saving an inferior position.
In the following game from the 4NCL , Australian player Chris Skulte scored a big upset over Guillaume Lamard. Outrated by 300 points, Skulte chose an aggressive line against the Sicilian, and went into the middle game with a playable position. His sensible play paid off on move 29 when it looks as though his opponent miscalculated a tactic and dropped a pawn. (29 ... Nxf4 30.Qf3 avoids losing the exchange) After that White was clearly better, but in such situations (against a stronger opponent), it is often a choice between trying to win, and being happy with a draw. Fortunately for Chris, there were enough obvious good moves on the board to play (46.g4!) that his opponent went from losing to lost, allowing Chris to pick up the full point.

Skulte,Christopher (2177) - Lamard,Guillaume (2472) [B50]
4NCL Division 1a Daventry, ENG (1.16), 29.02.2020


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Christopher Skulte said...

Thanks for the article. :) I was just sharing the happy news at the time.
For clarity, I am only 2030 FIDE and my opponent is 2491, so a 461pt gap!
They let you convert your English ratings for this league (through an agreed formula), so I did that to allow greater flexibility in our roster.

All the best, and may your check's always lead to checkmate.