I’m still playing through some of the recent games from the Doeberl Cup and the Sydney International Open and I’ve been struck in particular by one game by grandmaster Darryl Johansen.

Darryl was playing White against fellow GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu and seemed to be coasting along a pawn ahead in a nice position where his opponent was not threatening anything.

[iframe width=”500″ height=”685″ src=”http://chessmicrobase.com/microbases/1564/games/55178?token=8l0i82q4&embedded=1#hcp-” frameborder=”0″>]

My question for my students, when I showed them this position, was what move would they make and what candidate moves did they look at?  Almost all of them wanted to threaten something – a knight, a pawn, Black’s King, although a few wanted to push a passed pawn.  They had analysed a few moves deep in making their final decision.  I think Darryl did a similar thing.  He decided to play Rd1 which attacked a knight and forced a brief tactical sequence.  Over the next few moves however the balance of the position changed.  Suddenly Black had an attacking knight on f4 and both his rooks came into the game by attacking the white Queen.  Meanwhile Darryl still had a rook out of play on a3 and a knight also away from the action on b5.  When Black brought his Queen into play on e5 it was all over.  Darryl’s King was attacked by too many Black pieces and was overwhelmed.

Why, I pondered to myself, had White lost from what appeared to be a better position?  My answer was that he had chosen his move based on analysis and had neglected the “big picture”.  I’m the exact opposite.  I don’t like to analyse as it’s too much like hard work for an old mind, so I try to make my moves based on what is happening in the position.  If Darryl had looked at the big picture he would have realised that his rook on a3 was totally out of play.  A simple move like Ra2, activating the rook, would have given White a better position with no risk involved.

So that was my message to my students today.  Don’t just analyse to chose your moves.  Look at the “big picture” as well.

Of course this does not always work.  Today we were looking at one of my student’s games and he was White in the following position.  He played 1.h3 – a handy little move which presumably did not require much thought.  The sort of move that I would probably make in such a position also.  However, he had missed a great chance to win the game immediately.  Alas, dear reader, sometimes one just has to analyse variations.  What had he missed?

[iframe width=”500″ height=”685″ src=”http://chessmicrobase.com/microbases/1565/games/55342?token=79ujo59j&embedded=1#hcp-” frameborder=”0″>]

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