“Is this the most boring World Chess Championship match ever?” I asked fellow Chess Kids coach Carl Gorka.  “What about Karpov and Kasparov?” was his reply.  “They had a lot of draws.”  True, but Karpov was 5-0 up when the draws started so at least they had 5 games that had a result.   So far Carlsen and Karjakin have played 6 rather boring draws in their best of 12 game match in New York.  Compare that with “the good old days” – Steinitz v Anderssen 1866 where they played 14 games (8-6 to Steinitz) with NO DRAWS!  Of course in those days the spectators didn’t have all the computer analysis and video commentary that we have but at least they had exciting games.

Last Sunday, seeking refuge from the uneventful World Championship match, I ventured to Box Hill Chess Club to watch the Rookies tournament where some of my students were playing.  Indeed it was very pleasing as the last round commenced to see three of my students all on 5/6 and in contention for a prize.  On top board was Ethan Hooi (who I coach at Doncaster Gardens) playing Regan Cowley who won the game and thus the tournament with 7/7.  Fellow Doncaster Gardens student Eva was on board 3 and she drew her game to finish on 5.5/7.  A fine result.  The most interesting game however was on board 2 where the top seed John Nemeth, an imposing figure, faced one of my students from Serpell Primary, little Gavyn Sanusi-Goh rated a mere 1255 points below John.  They had infact played in the previous Rookies Tournament where Gavyn had given John a run for his money, so before the game John commented “Let’s see how much you have improved.”  He didn’t have to wait long to find out as Gavyn quickly won the exchange and later a second exchange to have 2 rooks plus queen v 2 bishops plus queen in the endgame.  A big crowd gathered around, sensing a upset, and with Gavyn having only 2 minutes left on his clock anything could have happened.  Gavyn, calmly returned one exchange to simplify the position then, after a bit of uncertainty, found a winning line to defeat his much higher rated opponent and secure outright second place in the tournament.   Not bad for an 8 year-old!

I watched some of my other students’ games at the tournament and witnessed a couple of very poor decisions, such as walking into mate in 3 moves in a drawn rook ending.  Even Ethan allowed his opponent a bank rank checkmate in an unclear position.  Why do players blunder?  I think it is because we make our moves based on both our analysis and our understanding of what we should be doing.  Sometimes we just forget to analyse, or get lazy, and make a move, because it looks right, without analysing to check that the move is safe.

Let me give you a little test.  Have a look at the rook ending below.  White is trying to draw and it’s his move.  You can analyse or use your judgement to choose a move … or both!  It’s quite hard and in the game White got it wrong.  Good luck.

[iframe width=”500″ height=”685″ src=”http://chessmicrobase.com/microbases/6500/games/897381?token=1pl4dual&embedded=1#hcp-” frameborder=”0″>]

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