Thursday, December 20, 2012

No quarter will be given

Yesterday we had our third session. We talked about trading pieces. There is a difference between the opening and the endgame when it comes to trading pieces. In the opening it is often usefull to keep the tension between pawns as long as possible, and trade only when you can do it at a favourable moment or when you have no other choice. In the transition to the endgame you have to determine which endgame you want to play before you can trade pieces. We both (the pupils) noticed a tendency to trade too mechanically without reason. Thus compromising our position.

Another issue that became clear is that my performance declines steeply at the moment that the transition to an endgame needs to take place. I usually protect myself by offering an early draw when that happens. The past 14 years my time trouble problem has protected me against this phase of the game, but now I have taken rigorous measures, that is no longer an issue. This means that I now have to learn to play the endgame.

My coach made it clear that I deprive myself from exercise when I offer and accept draws. Most of those draws are prompted by fear. As gm Donner put it so beautifully: I'm no coward yet timid. I'm more a study head than a fighter and I seek to solve my problems in the study room rather than over the board.

So we settled for an agreement that I will no longer offer or accept any draws. No quarter wil be given. No prisoners will be taken.
To be honest, it felt as a relief. It protects me against a major weakness which hinders my progress. I look forward to put it into practice. It makes life simple again!


  1. To solve tactics-puzzles might be of limited value..?? but to solve CT-Theory-Endgame puzzles seems to be a good training at least for the very late endgames. IMO the Theory modus is best because it forces you to select the best (=shortest) sequence of moves. This way you develop a feeling about tempo and zugzwang. I draw a lot too, but i am "~strong" at endgames (in comparison to other players of my ~strength). I think CT-Theory is the reason.

  2. I would accept a draw if I stand worse. Also I would offer draw when my opponent is considerably stronger and the position is equal.
    I might play on if I have a little disadvantage but believe that my opponent is weaker, or I feel like I am able to hold the draw and my opponent is in time trouble.
    I always accept draw if I cant hope for more than a draw (= winning is almost impossible).
    I also like taking a draw if I am in time trouble and have only a tiny advantage.

    What you think about this draw reasons?

  3. @Munich,
    The main goal is to learn something. If the game is a dead draw, it will end as a factual draw anyway. But why would I deprive myself from a chance to get 15 moves or so more experience?
    If I get better, the results become better anyhow. No need for draws there.
    Fear for a bad result is no good guide when it comes to improving. A loss better ingrains certain principles than an undeserved draw.

    Further I want to ovecome the character flaw of being not competitive enough, and this agreement with my coach is helpful in that. It relieves my mind from doubt too.

  4. If it is a "dead" draw - of course I would play on, too. Unless my opponent is much stronger - because: is it really "dead draw"? I won dead drawn games against weaker opponents, and lost such endings against stronger opponents.

    The thing in drawing is: only draw if you cant hope for more than a draw (and risk losing). A dead drawn game against a weaker opponent is not such a case. Here I would hope for AT LEAST a draw, with a little chance for a win.
    But if my hopes are at best a draw - I recommend not to decline a draw.

    Example: You have a King and a bishop, while your opponent has a King and a bishop and 2 pawns. But the bishops are of opposite colours. All you can hope for is a realistically a draw, because even if your opponent loses his pawn - you cant win with a bishop and no pawns left.
    Another example: both of you have equal pawns on each side of the wing. It looks balanced and it each of you have a rook left. Your opponent is 200 elo points stronger than you and just offered you a draw. Looking at the history of this game you lost it in between but you got lucky when he got into time trouble, even though your time was pretty tight at the end, too. He reached time controll, looks at the situation and is frustrated that all his winning advantage is gone. He could play on, but out of frustration he offers you a draw. Surely he is biting his tongue afterwards because while you think about the draw offer he remembers that you are 200 elo weaker than him. But he said it already.
    Question: what do you do? take the draw or go for the lesson how to lose a pretty drawn ending within the next 15 moves?

  5. If I have time enough to learn something, I go for the lesson. Afterwards I will show my game to the coach so he can explain what I did wrong those 15 moves.

    My choice doesn't mean a judgement of those who draw.

  6. Understood. You take it as a training and dont care about the (temporary) loss in elo.

    From the point of polishing your rating into the maximal possible rating (=leading to an overvalued rating), the art of drawing can gain some points.

    Thinking about it, I think I am going to offer draws pretty early if I play against a 100++ higher rated player.
    With exceptions of course. He might have messed up the opening, and I wont offer draw if I have an obvious advantage.
    There are some players who are very willing to accept draws easily. You for instance did so previously. These players are likely underrated.

    On the other hand: we shouldnt care about rating, because rating will follow our strength anyway.
    Somehow I cant help it. I do care about my rating.

  7. @Munich,
    Understood. You take it as a training and dont care about the (temporary) loss in elo.

    That's the idea. And it feels as getting rid of a burden.