One of the most frustrating feelings in chess is looking over a loss and finding a saucy move that would have won the game had you found it. In many cases, these tactical sequences are a point of no return. If you find the right move, you can continue playing for a win or — you throw away your advantage. Chess hangs on this excruciating, unforgivable demand for precision at all times. As in a given position, only one move of a multitude will do – and sometimes such moves are devilishly hard to calculate and often involve un-intuitive or sacrificial play.
Today I played against a strong player, rated 2056. After a clumsy beginning and two mouse slips – on move 3, Bd7 and 16, Rfc8, I found myself in a roughly equal position though I felt my pieces were much better and that my opponent had a lot of problems to solve before he could get them mobilized. In such a situation, one must always look for and try to anticipate sacrifices or tactics. “Tactics arise from a superior position,” so the old adage goes. And when we got to move 24 and my opponent played 24… b5? I sensed that I had an opportunity but the move I was considering was full of complexities and hard for me top calculate fully. I thought for maybe 6 minutes, and realized chances were if I couldn’t calculate it properly, it was highly unlikely that he could. So, the game up until that moment had left us in an equal position, and but for an outrageous move/tactic, the game would have remained equal. But I have become known for my sacrificial, attacking style among those who watch me play – though I still have bad games, as a relative beginner should from pure lack of experience, if nothing else – and so I went for it. But first, test your tactical skill from the position arising from — this position:
Here’s a still image should that help you –
This game is an example of something very important to consider when playing this game. At any moment, a single move could be the turning point. One move could mean victory or failure, equality or overwhelming advantage. It is important to seize the advantages presented, and to do the calculation necessary to clear a move before playing it. In this game, I played an off-beat opening and had a mouse-slip on the third move – but, you can overcome a poor opening as long as you work hard to develop your pieces, use them to coordinate on targets, and exploit weaknesses, tactical and positional in your opponent’s territory. You can evaluate the strength of your pieces by the amount of range and space they cover – the amount of squares a given piece covers / oversees is a good estimate of its power. A rook behind a pawn, unable to move forward, backward or sideways is not as strong as a rook on an open file. When you can coordinate your pieces and find good squares for them, look for weaknesses in your enemy position and take advantage of mistakes – you will get stronger. But it will take time, patience, and many, many failures before climbing that hill.
To be completely honest, I’m not quite over it yet; not even close.