Chess Blindness. This syndrome occurs when the player overlooks possibilities on the chess board because he is concentrating on other ideas and plans. All players are susceptible, though simple maxims such as “examine all checks and captures” and never rushing a move can reduce the number of such blunders. Unfortunately sometimes I seem to be the chess equivalent of an anopthalmic whose guide dog has been run over.
Below I present a game where my opponent and I took it in turns to ignore events going on around us on the chessboard, and try to understand why…
Playing the Sokolsky as white, I reached this
position (right) with black to move…
My threat at this stage was to intensify
pressure on the d file by doubling rooks,
then kick the bishop by e3-e4 and win
the pinned knight with Ng5 (removing the
bishop from e6). The queen could add
support by Qd2…
Black’s best response is 16. …f6. After 17.e6
Nc5 18.Bc4 Nxe6 19.Rdd1, Fritz has the
position as equal
However Black blunders 16. …Qc7??
The intention was to remove the threatened
pin combined with with a double attack on
white’s e5 pawn… Unfortunately the bishop hangs.
And black’s blindness is catching! Examining all checks and captures would have averted my error. Instead my focus is on saving my e5 pawn (immediate threat) and maintaining control of the d file, my main strategic consideration at the time.
Thus follows 17. e4? Be6 18. Rd6. White has threats on the c file best parried with 18. …Nc5 where Fritz thinks the game is equal.
Fortunately for me, black now blunders again. 18. …f6??
I’m not sure what the aim of this move was. Presumably an attempt at undermining my rook, but as well as hanging the bishop (chess blindness), this overlooks my pressure on the c6 pawn (ignoring the threat).
19.Rxe6 “Now the game is won” I thought. 19. …Nc5. Expected. Threatening the rook and e4, and consolidating the c file. I knew the pawn was safe in view of Qc4 forking king and knight, but unfortunately I neglected to move my rook first!
20.Qc4? Nxe6. 21.Qxe6+
Luckily for me my advantage was sufficient that this error was unimportant, but I don’t understand why I made it. After winning the bishop, I resolved to concentrate as blunders commonly follow an opponents blunder. Despite this I made the move quickly without an attempt at proper analysis. Annoyingly I spotted the move Qc4 because I had noted the threats, but then I ignored them!
As ever one can spend ten moves to gain a half point advantage, then lose much more in a moment of haste. Clearly there is no foolproof way to avoiding even such obvious blunders as in the game, but there are ways to minimize them. By following a few rules every time you make a move, you can reduce the number of blunders you make.
- 1. Understand the purpose of your opponents move, and what are his threats.
- 2. Examine all checks and captures
- 3. Examine all checks and captures your opponent would be able to make after your intended move.
- 4. Do not rush a move unless time pressure dictates this. Sit on your hands to prevent this!
- 5. Continue to concentrate just as hard in a won or lost positionClearly the list goes on, but having a routine of a few checkpoints, and sticking to it can only help.