It has been a busy few weeks for the avid chess spectator.  Last week I was at the Vic. Youth Chess Championships to give a lecture and supply some after-the-game analysis.  

The tournament was won by the top seed, Kayson Wang with a perfect score but you would have to say that he was a little lucky.  It all came down to his game against the second seed, Alistair McCutcheon, and when I strolled over to see what was happening Alistair was a pawn up in a knight ending with 1 minute 45 seconds on his clock to Kayson’s 2 minutes 15 seconds.   Could Alistair win or would Kayson hold the draw?   Alistair though for about 20 seconds over an obvious pawn push (apparently he was analysing – something I try to avoid doing) and after a few more moves he had an easily winning position.  All he had to do was either play Nc5 winning a pawn for nothing or else play the obvious sacrifice Nxc3 which led to a winning pawn endgame for him.  I saw it.  The crowd saw it.  Alistair did not!   He was still busy analysing and managed to find a way to even lose the game in his time trouble!

At least this gave me a good subject for the game post-mortem …. are you analysing too much?   Strangely a few days later I was reading an on-line chess book just published by Bill Jordan in which he quoted some of Cecil Purdy’s advice ….. “It is better to look around rather than to look ahead.”   Yes … I too am a student of Purdy!

This advice applies equally well to the Chess Olympiad which finished last week.  Look at an example from Zhong Yuan-Zhao’s position below.   The Australian no.2 seems to have the better position and indeed he went on to win in another 10 moves.  His analysis was probably good … but if he had looked around a bit more he may have finished the game sooner.   What did Zhao miss?

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