Mike Radford Print E-mail
By Joel Benjamin   
September 2, 2006
I have always enjoyed playing chess and just recently started playing competitively again. Last week I played a game with Black:

While playing the game I was extremely excited as this person was rated 400 points higher than me, however after I started going over the game I realized that white just played horribly and I left him some good options after I cornered my bishop in the left center of the board with 14...dxe4. This is just one example of studying my games where in retrospect the moves didn't seem all that great but where I had good reason to play them in the game 14...dxe4 forces the knight to move and keeps white from castling. Have you ever had similar experiences and how would you suggest I deal with it?

Mike Radford

I applaud your efforts to look for improvements from this game, but I find your conclusions mysterious. The moves you regret are certainly not your biggest mistakes. Instead of 5...Bd6, 5...Bb4+! would have forced a White piece to retreat and given you the edge. On the next move, you could have braved the double check with 6... Bxf4! 7.Nxc7+ Kf8 8.Nxa8 Nc6 and Black will come out ahead.

The ? for 12... d5 might be a little harsh. This move looks sensible enough; it just doesn't pack the punch of 12... Qb6!

Position after 14.Nxe4

I'm not sure how you concluded that 14... dxe4 was a bad move. The game certainly worked out well for you! It's true that White blundered with 16.Qxa6??, but even after 16.Qd1 e5 Black surely has an active position. In chess nomenclature, ?? is reserved for moves that clearly lose or throw away a win. As I see it, 14... dxe4 is the best move, for the very reasons that you gave. So you have no reason to regret that move - but you will surely come to regret many others. This is an inescapable fact of chess. Everyone makes bad decisions from time to time. If I make a logically based decision that turns out badly, I don't necessarily regret it. Maybe it takes home analysis or Fritz to show why the move was bad. The mistakes that gnaw at me are the ones I should have avoided with the information available at the time. Those moves I just try my best not to dwell on!

Do your best to base your decisions on sound reasoning. If your move genuinely seems to make sense at the time, you will be vindicated more often than not. If you use a computer program to analyze your games afterward, you will always find mistakes. Be careful that Fritz or Junior or Shredder does not hold you to a higher standard of play than you should expect from your rating.

One last note: I corrected a typo in your game score. It is best to send a ChessBase file or a game copied straight out of the database to avoid errors. For readers who type out the moves for their questions, proofread for errors or I may not be able to decipher the actual moves.

Joel Benjamin