The Value of Efficiency

Here is an unrated chess game I played against a player, “QuantumMan” on I play him regularly and score just over 40% in our games. We engaged in a a friendly debate about the value of efficiency in choosing a path to victory; it turns out we were both quite mistaken about the lines we picked in this instance, but, the fact remains that there is more than one way to win a chess game. Will you for the saucy method and accept a small risk of not getting the full point? Or will you play easy lines that don’t grind your opportunity into find power but guaranty, as much as anything can truly be expressed with certainty, that you will win the position? You’ll see from our game below that both actually carry implicit risks; the promise of positional power that your rook on the 7th rank grants may come to naught, but your calculations can also be your own undoing.

After our debate an engine revealed that not only was my idea for 30. f3 not a forced win, not in any line, but many of “QuantumMan’s” lines were fraught with opportunities for resistance. In fact his advantage was slight after move 32. His ideas were somewhat dependent on my screwing up, and I quickly obliged him when I played Bxh2. As white we would’ve both played our respective lines and won, as it turns out from the postmortem, but we overestimated ourselves. To calculate fifteen lines deep means not assuming your lines forced – in fact my flashy continuations meant nothing after some early deviations from black.

Human beings are terrible at assessing risk, and we might not be around if this were not so. Emerging from the ¬†early Pleistocene Era wasn’t easy, and people subjected themselves to danger each and every day. Hunting sabre-tooth tiger with crude weapons is probably never a rational idea, and you’d be less inclined to do it the more you’d consider the idea. I personally don’t care if the world is¬†covered in giant glaciers because I have automatic seat warmers, but I digress. What I want you to examine is which route you would have taken after black’s 29th. Remember, as novices we make the wrong move far more often than we make the right one; when we think of carrying our calculations out for fifteen moves we have to consider the possibility, usually a small one, that we’re actually right.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Nd4 5. Nxd4 exd4 6. d3 c6 7. Bc4 Bc5 8.
Bg5 Qa5+ 9. Nd2 O-O 10. O-O d5 11. Bxf6 dxc4 12. Nxc4 Qb4 13. c3 dxc3 14. bxc3
Qa4 15. Bh4 Be6 16. Nb2 Qa5 17. d4 Bb6 18. Be7 Rfe8 19. Bb4 Qg5 20. Nc4 Bh3 {
? Qb5 was better, with the pin of the knight to the queen.} 21. Qf3 Bg4 22. Qg3
Bxd4 23. h3 Rxe4 24. cxd4 Rxd4 25. Bd2 Qc5 26. Be3 Be2 27. Bxd4 Qxd4 {White
has the subtle Nd6 where black can only get an exchange. He is losing.} 28.
Rac1 Bxc4 29. Rfd1 Qe4 30. Re1 Qd4 31. Rcd1 Qb6 32. Qe5 Be6 33. Rb1 Qa6 34. Qc7
Bxa2 {Anti-positional and terrible} (34… b5 {White must offer the pawn on a4
to keep his advantage, a tricky find. It was a key to the position neither of
us found.}) 35. Rxb7 Bd5 36. Rb8+ 1-0



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