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Finegold's Chess Resolutions Print E-mail
By GM Ben Finegold   
December 28, 2014
Finegold225.jpgSince I don't follow any of my regular resolutions, let's make a list of "Chess" resolutions that many of you should follow!

1)    I won't get into time trouble.  Many of my students, friends, enemies, acquaintances, strangers, and myself included lose chess games due to time trouble blunders.  If the time control is 40/2 (slow!) and you take 30 minutes on one move, and 15 on another, and so on, time trouble looms.  If you are the type of player who has to make 8-12 moves in less than 3 minutes in this situation, and often, you are a time trouble addict. 

Maybe you are the type of player who plays a lot of g/25 or g/30, and always stops taking notation around move 20?  Again, I see an addict! Taking the time before the event to have a talk with yourself about a plan for each game is the way to go.  For example, let's say the time control is g/60.  I would try to play about one minute per move.  And, if I stop keeping score around move 45 or so, due to very low time, that seems reasonable.  But, if you use 55 minutes for the first 18 moves, and now play the rest of the game in 5 minutes, you are just asking to lose.  So, think about the time control before you play in the tournament, and stick to your plan.

2)    I won't move quickly when I think my opponent has just blundered.  Playing too slowly is bad, but too quickly can be even worse!  So many times, me, or a student, thinks we have a forced win, and get excited.  Playing quickly when you think you are winning is not a good idea.  Take a look here:

GM Ray Robson-GM Ben Finegold

Position after 27. Ka1

Ray was in time trouble, and messed up a promising position. Now I should be winning with the cool 27...Re5!

I thought this won easily. But why not think a few minutes and make sure? I had about 15 minutes left on my clock at this point. If I had used 6-8 of those minutes to make sure I was winning, I think I would have seen Ray's crushing rejoinder. 27... Re5! 28.Qh7+ Kf8 29. gxf6 Bxf6 30. Qh6+ Bg7 31. Rc1 Bxh6 32. Rxc2 Rxc2 33. Bxe5 Bg7 34. Bxg7+ Kxg7 is one computer line, and black should easily win.
28. Qh7+ Kf8 29. Qxg7+ !!


29..Kxg7 just gets mated after 30.Bxf6+ and 31.Rh8#. Since 29...Ke8 and 29...Ke7 also get mated.... 1-0

3)  I will play the same regardless of my opponent's rating.   Almost everyone I know plays quickly and expects to win against lower rated opposition, but plays a different game against higher rated opponents.  One of my favorite players, GM Vladimir Tukmakov, was playing in the Canadian Open the same year as me (we played, but I ‘forgot' the result) and he played and looked the same against 1600s as he did vs. 2600s.  I remember in round 1, all the GMs were playing wild tactical melees against weaker opposition, winning quickly, and Vladimir was squeezing his opponent, with black, in a boring QGD Exchange.  Tukmakov was clear first that event, as he took all his opponents seriously, and played the same strength regardless.  I teach that to all my students (will any of them listen?).  Even I am guilty of playing quickly, and badly against weaker opposition.  Here is a game I played this month, against a 1500 (!) USCF in a g/65.  The only game I was losing the entire event.

GM Ben Finegold- Dennis Hourcade

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. g4

A nice time to try out a pawn sac I made a video on a year ago. My opponent is "only" 1500, so what could go wrong?
Hmm, I already did not know this move! I knew the usual 5...Nxg4 and the oft played 5...h6 as well.
6. Qxd4?!
6.Nxd4 is clearly better,but I was intent on sacrificing my "g" pawn!
6...Nxg4 7. Bf4 Qf6 8. Qd2 Nge5 9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10. O-O-O c6 11. Be2 Be7 12. Rhg1 Ng6 13. Bg5 Qe5

Okay, so myopponent did not play the best moves, and now white is better. Simply 14.Be3 with the idea of 15.f4 gives white a nice advantage.


Now I go crazy!
Okay, I want to play f4, but this is too much!
15...hxg6 16.f4 Qf6 17.e5 dxe5
Hmm, now I realized my intended
18.Ne4? just loses to
18...Qxf4 18.fxe5 Qxe5 19.Bc4

Here black is winning, and I was very lucky to win this game later, due to a couple of errors by my opponent. It goes to show you, don't underestimate anyone! 1-0

4) I will stop taking draws against better players when I have a good position.  I tell all of my students, "Never offer a draw, never accept a draw.  Fight like a man, and die like a dog."  Thinking about whether to offer or accept a draw takes time away from finding the best moves.  Also, think of it this way -- Do you get better at chess by playing, or not playing?  If you sat at home for four months, and your friend played in 10 rated events during that span, it is likely they have improved while you are dormant.  Now, if you take draws, you are no longer playing the game.  Playing on, and sometimes losing, is really good for your chess.  You will be amazed how confident you get when you beat higher rated opposition.

5) I will try a new opening, and not play the same stale stuff I have played for 25 years.  Bent Larsen once said that players improve and are more mature when they play new openings.  Most of my students are afraid to try new stuff.  Well, here's what I say... Just do it!  (Nike, don't sue).  It's fun to try new stuff, and sometimes, you may surprise yourself!

Gurevich,Daniel - Finegold,Ben [B76]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6


The Dragon! I rarely/ never play this line. But, sometimes, I play the Accelerated Dragon, and I wanted to try a rare idea.
6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0

Black usually plays 9...d5, but I assume a young player will know all the main lines.
9...Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Rc8

This was the idea I wanted to try. Everyone plays 11..Qc7, 12...Rfc8, and 13...Qa5.
12.g4 Nd7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.h4 Qa5 15.h5 g5

We were still in my preparation here. My opponent had used almost an hour at this point, but I had only used a couple of minutes. Now he surprised me.

So now the position was new to us both. An exciting position, and one where the better player will likely win. A tough battle ensued and I was able to win due to an error in my opponent's time trouble. Playing new openings can be fun! 0-1

I hope you can use these resolutions and improve your game.  And maybe, one day, I will start using them myself.

Learn more about GM Ben Finegold on his YouTube page, website, and gofundme page.