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Old 02-25-2017, 12:25 AM   #1
Unguarded
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Do I have any fight left in this position? $900 on the line...

My opponent has just played e7-e5. This position occurred in the last game of a 7 round tournament. My opponent is near 1750 after winning all 6 of his games thus far, and I am 1600ish with 5 wins and 1 loss. He only needs to draw to take $1700 for clear first, but a loss will only tie him for first and net him $1000. If I win, I tie for first and win $1000. If I draw, I am clear 3rd place for $500. If I lose, I tie for 4th place and only win $100. The money is moderately significant to me, but not a huge deal. Using my poker reads, I can tell that my opponent is not used to playing for so much money and is a bit rattled. He was clearly playing for a draw early on which got him in some trouble. I was doing quite well against him before I overlooked a move that forced the exchange of queens and lost me a couple tempos. I have 52 minutes left. He has 42 minutes left. We are 19 moves away from sudden death which will give each of us 30 additional minutes + a 10 second delay. My opponent offered a draw 2 moves before which I declined, but I am almost positive that he will accept a draw on any non-blunder. I offer a draw and play 22. a5. He accepts. (After some computer bs, it turns out that 22. Nb5 is equal... but near zero chance I find the move in the game given that it appears to hang a pawn). I also seriously considered 22. f3 btw.

My reasoning was that I felt like I was slightly behind and did not want to spew $400 trying to force things. I was also extremely fatigued mentally and a bit frustrated that the game had taken a negative turn for me. That being said, I did come into the game with a "must win" attitude so I was a bit ashamed of my decision and it has been haunting me since.

I did feel like I was the slightly better player in the moment and I have been studying rook endings quite a bit. If I can somehow hold onto my pawns and get the minor pieces off the board with reasonable rook activity, I do think I should have an edge.

Did I make the right decision taking a draw? Or could it have been more +EV (financially and psychologically) to keep fighting for the win in a slightly worse position?

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Old 02-25-2017, 08:12 AM   #2
DrChesspain
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Re: Do I have any fight left in this position? $900 on the line...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unguarded View Post
My reasoning was that I felt like I was slightly behind and did not want to spew $400 trying to force things. I was also extremely fatigued mentally and a bit frustrated that the game had taken a negative turn for me.

That being said, I did come into the game with a "must win" attitude so I was a bit ashamed of my decision and it has been haunting me since.

Did I make the right decision taking a draw? Or could it have been more +EV (financially and psychologically) to keep fighting for the win in a slightly worse position?
To continue with your poker analogy, why remain at the table trying to force a win when you realize that you are not playing your "A" game at that moment...and you also know from experience that you tend to go on tilt when you try to avoid draws?

Part of being a good chess player (or poker player) is understanding when conditions have changed regarding your objective chances of winning.
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Old 02-25-2017, 04:58 PM   #3
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Re: Do I have any fight left in this position? $900 on the line...

You're getting 5-4 to go for the win., Plus it seems a freeroll to play on. He'll take a draw just about any time. I would look at moves like f4, Bg4, Nb5, Bd1 trying to find scary scenarios. Pretty bad moves are the norm at this level and even more so under pressure. Congrats on the tourny score. I might have to give up our PLO/chess/backgammon challenge soon and get me an OFC app.
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Old 02-26-2017, 12:56 PM   #4
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Re: Do I have any fight left in this position? $900 on the line...

I don't see any significant advantage in the position.
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Old 02-26-2017, 04:39 PM   #5
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Re: Do I have any fight left in this position? $900 on the line...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrChesspain View Post
To continue with your poker analogy, why remain at the table trying to force a win when you realize that you are not playing your "A" game at that moment...and you also know from experience that you tend to go on tilt when you try to avoid draws?

Part of being a good chess player (or poker player) is understanding when conditions have changed regarding your objective chances of winning.
Cool, thank you... that does make me feel a bit better lol. I would eventually like to gain enough confidence in my endgame play that I can continue to push in such positions against non-masters, but that will take time and experience.

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Originally Posted by networth View Post
You're getting 5-4 to go for the win., Plus it seems a freeroll to play on. He'll take a draw just about any time. I would look at moves like f4, Bg4, Nb5, Bd1 trying to find scary scenarios. Pretty bad moves are the norm at this level and even more so under pressure. Congrats on the tourny score. I might have to give up our PLO/chess/backgammon challenge soon and get me an OFC app.
I considered all of these plans other than an immediate Nb5. I remember being overly worried about him playing f5 which doesn't actually seem to accomplish anything. Hmmm, 5-4... I guess I didn't make that big of a mistake by taking the draw then lol. Great to see the only 2p2er who consistently levels me without being a dick about it posting here!

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Originally Posted by leavesofliberty View Post
I don't see any significant advantage in the position.
In my other thread, a few posters suggested that I try to be more optimistic about playing for wins in drawish positions given the poor endgame play at my level. I thought this might be an example of a spot where I could have kept playing hoping that I win more often than I lose even if we draw a lot.
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Old 02-26-2017, 04:59 PM   #6
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Re: Do I have any fight left in this position? $900 on the line...

Quote:
Originally posted by Unguarded
I thought this might be an example of a spot where I could have kept playing hoping that I win more often than I lose even if we draw a lot.
However, in addition to the psychological factors I mentioned, leavesofliberty is correct in noting that the position looks pretty level--in fact, the pawn structures are pretty much identical.

Although there is nothing wrong with playing for a win if you are feeling calm, confident and clear-headed, I wouldn't really call this a free roll--not unless you truly think that your opponent would've given you a draw even if you had blundered into a losing game.
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Old 02-26-2017, 05:24 PM   #7
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Re: Do I have any fight left in this position? $900 on the line...

I'd be interested in knowing what opening you chose. With the prize you should play to win, and the opening is your best opportunity to get full EV so you don't end up in an equal and balanced position. Only a uscf 1700 btw. I think with the position and the rating difference, draw.
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Old 02-26-2017, 06:28 PM   #8
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Re: Do I have any fight left in this position? $900 on the line...

I play 1. Nf3 and then usually transpose it into 1. d4 lines while avoiding the semi-slav, QGD, Benoni, Nimzo-Indian, Bogo-Indian, and the toughest Queen's Indian lines. After 1... c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. e4, I had transposed him into the Maroczy Bind variation of the Accelerated Dragon which is obv extremely dangerous for black. He was trying to play a symmetrical English and did not know he could end up in a Maroczy Bind. I play the Accelerated Dragon as black as well, so the opening could not have gone much better for me.

The main drawback to my 1. Nf3 is that I can be forced to play a symmetrical English. But as in this game, I am quite good at transposing people into the most dangerous lines. Fwiw, I don't care much about openings as long as I am getting playable positions consistently. I have been improving dramatically since I stopped worrying about openings and have been spending my study time on tactics and endgames.

A couple key positions:



Black has just played 11... Nf6-e8. I play 12. c5 to punish this passive move.


The turning point of the game:



Black has just played 15... Qa5. I play 16. cxd6 planning 17. b4 and 18. e5. But after 16... Nxd3 17. b4 Qb6, I realize that I am forced to trade queens and have simply developed his knight for him and solved all of his problems. When I played 16. cxd6, I thought he had to move his queen to either a3 or d8 after 17. b4 because I had calculated poorly and am not used to people trying to trade queens with me. 16 Nd5 was great for me. 16. b4 also works after 16... dxc5 Qxc5 (trading queens favorably and keeping his knight in jail).


But bad moves happen at my level, and I felt like my opponent was not playing well at all given moves like 11... Ne8 and his general demeanor. I do think that he was very capable of making plenty of bad moves even after my mistake. For example, he seemed very eager to make passive moves and trade pieces in search of his draw. But in a rook endgame, active piece play and well calculated tactics are crucial. I could easily imagine him passively defending his pawns in a rook endgame which would be semi-suicidal. I do, of course, need to get the minor pieces off the board first. But that looks very doable.

Last edited by Unguarded; 02-26-2017 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 02-26-2017, 08:06 PM   #9
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Re: Do I have any fight left in this position? $900 on the line...

If you feel you have better or even equal endgame knowledge you should play the game out. It's wise to study the endgame. Wish I had more time. It seems like your openings are strong. Most players at our level aren't satisfied w the sym english, which is I judge to be the best reply to Nf3. Also if you want to learn endgames, then play out the draws. The Russian school always forced them to play out the draws, lol. Anyway, you played brilliantly so feel good about the game overall.

I personally would draw here because my position didn't materialize, I am tired, and it's an equal position. I am also more apt to draw if I feel like I lost ground like that. The higher rating factors into it. A hundred points is a lot to overcome in an equal position, though it comes down to endgame knowlege. At our level we need to know some rook-and-pawns.

Last edited by leavesofliberty; 02-26-2017 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 02-27-2017, 12:07 PM   #10
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Re: Do I have any fight left in this position? $900 on the line...

Seems +EV to continue but not hugely so. It's very hard for us to evaluate the intangibles (your reads, your fatigue level, his fatigue level, etc.). If you felt you had an edge in them then continuing is even more +EV.

At the same time, I don't think you give up too much EV by securing a draw here and psychologically even those of us who understand EV and play poker will almost surely feel better banking for sure money. One difference (and yes, I know this is just a rationalization) between this situation and poker is you can't just fire up another chess tourny to continue finding +EV situations. And mentally I'm sure you chunk chess in a separate category than poker so it won't *feel* as much like one long seemingly infinite series of EV decisions. So I'd guess that you'd feel quite bad if you lost this game from here on and much more so than winning from here on. So your mental pain EV is a different calculation that almost surely favors the draw.

All I can say is personally I'm sure I go for the draw every time but it may be a huge leak of mine at the end of tournaments I'm generally just happy to end on a positive note. If the situation required a win and a draw or losing was much lower EV, then, yes I would overcome that but I know it's what I'd do in your situation.
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