IM Sandeep Annotates - #5 - Take Your Chances

Take Your Chances

This week’s article will feature games from the weekly Wednesday MCA Arena, which were played by Adan. In these games, Adan was paired against two higher-rated players, Wally and Sidhaant, and while he was able to get winning positions in both games, he did end up losing both. This phenomenon is very common in chess, especially in blitz tournaments; lower-rated players are sometimes surprised to find themselves in a winning position.  Unfortunately for Adan he was not able to convert his advantageous positions into a win. 

Advice on Playing Up

It is important to remember everyone blunders and makes mistakes, some just do it less or more than others. This means that in a given game, you can beat anyone and you should treat all opponents with that mindset. I went through this a lot when I was trying to move up the ranks, and my complacency towards “better players” made me squander quite a few easy winning positions. 

However, in the world of chess, every game is a lesson, every move a teacher. Adan will gain invaluable insights into his games, and this is an example of how playing against higher-rated players and strong opponents can lead to huge improvements in your games. Now Adan should take these lessons and apply them to his next games, and soon he can be that higher-rated player.

Trying to Convert Against a Much Higher-Rated Player

The first game was against Wally in the Scandinavian where he was up a queen out of the opening. The first part of the conversion went smoothly when he was trying to trade pieces off, but after getting a bit too fancy things went downhill and he ended up losing. Check out the annotated game to see what Adan could learn from this game:


Some key takeaways from the game:

  1. Don’t play too fast/premove in any opening, even if you think you know it really well. The 5 seconds you save are not worth it.
  2. When you are up a lot of material there is no need to get fancy. Simpler is better and go for the easy win that might take an extra move.
  3. In a better position, winning more material is nowhere near as important as keeping the king safe and bringing out your pieces. Consolidate the position first.
  4. Never give up! Wally didn’t resign here; he fought and fought and was eventually rewarded with a queen-down victory.

Test Your Knowledge 

Try to solve these positions and then check out the answers in the annotated game.

chess position 1Is Ng5 a good idea to trade pieces here, or should White be more careful?


chess position 2What should White’s next moves be to bring out his pieces and get his king to safety?

Don't Let It Slip Away

Another game that followed a somewhat similar pattern to the previous one was Sidhaant vs Adan. The game started off in a Queen’s Gambit Declined, where Adan was able to outplay Sidhaant and gain a huge advantage, but Sidhaant fought back and eventually won. Check out the game to see how both sides could learn from their mistakes here:

Some key takeaways from the game:

  1. Just because you have the option to castle doesn’t mean you should; the king has to be safe after you castle as well.
  2. Sometimes trading when you’re up material is not the best idea, especially if you are in the middle of launching an attack on the king.
  3. When you have a better or winning position, you should make it your number one priority to remove the opponent’s counterplay. Even giving up some material for this can be a very smart way to play.
  4. Again, Never give up! Here we see an opposite example of a player giving up and resigning after blundering a win, but he still had chances to win and could have tried to do something similar to what Wally did. Nobody won a game by resigning.

Test Your Knowledge 

Try to solve these positions and then check out the answers in the annotated game.

chess position 3White has to complete his development here. Where does the king belong?


chess position 4How should Black end the game? Should he try to eliminate the passers or go for the white king?


About This Series

IM Sandeep Sethuraman

Our new series is written by International Master (IM) Sandeep Sethuraman and will feature analysis of tournament games played by our students.  Sandeep is a rising high school senior in Arizona and one of the top players in the USA for his age.  Students are encouraged to submit games for future articles by contacting our online team. 

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