Chess is all about thinking.  About being able to see an idea that your opponent has missed.  Of course we cannot analyse all the available moves, like a computer can, so we have to limit the number of candidate moves that we examine and also how deeply we analyse the variations.

I can remember when chess computers first came out and one way to try to beat them (particularly in an endgame) was to find a good move or idea beyond their analysis horizon and thus you could get an advantage.   Unfortunately most chess players are lazy.  They see a good move and they play it … looking for a better move, analysing a bit deeper or looking for new candidate moves is hard work.   A good chess player needs however to be constantly trying to out-think his opponent.  If the opponent does a sacrifice you look for a flaw in it.   If he has a plan you look for an idea to counter it or for a better plan for yourself.

It’s so easy to limit your analysis by rejecting obviously “silly” moves.   “If I go there he takes my queen” …. end of analysis.  But a good player says “Yes, I lose my queen, but do I have anything after he takes it?”

How to get juniors to think like that?  That’s a difficult task that I am still working on.  One method I use is to show them examples where there is a clever hidden idea that you may perhaps find …. if only you look for it!

I was playing through some tournament games on the other day looking for such examples when I played through one of the games from the World Seniors Teams Championship.   White was the English grandmaster Dr.John Nunn, who I knew of, and he reached the following position.   He has a N but Blacks has 2 really strong passed pawns.  Nunn lost to a very pretty tactic.   Let’s look at that first.   Here is what happened.

My computer however thought that White had a better move which had good chances to hold the draw.  I looked at the move the computer was suggesting but it still looked hopeless for White.  “What is the idea” I pondered.   After about a minute’s hard thought I found it … a very nice idea which I think few players would find in a tournament game  ….. except of course you and me!