"Mysterious" Truths of Chess
Kenya Kenya Kenya

Knight Mysterious, "Game Not Over Until Last Minute," The East African Standard, 23 November 2003 (Nairobi, Kenya).

It is a well-known fact that one of the most difficult aspects of chess is to make sure of victory in a positionally won game. There are numerous examples of  won games lost by obvious blunders or by gradually frittering away a decisive advantage. In theory, we know that a game is not finished until the other man is checkmated, resigns or exceeds the time limit.

To obtain a position which you are sure would be given a win on adjudication does not entitle you to a point, half a point or anything at all, unless the game is to be decided by adjudication.

However, it is normal for a chess player to give himself credit during the game for obtaining an advantage. He feels, however, unconsciously, that the opponent should recognise that the position is lost and should admit the fait accompli by a blunder or two rather than prolong resistance. The job of "winning a won game" is therefore a matter of psychology as much as of chess. All that in fact happens when a winning position is reached is that the chances of success have improved. If you relax your efforts, your chances automatically lessen.

It may be that you have obtained the advantage through some obvious mistakes by your opponent. If he is a good player, who rarely makes bad moves, the task of winning is going to be harder, not easier, since he knows that he cannot afford to make any more mistakes. This is especially noticeable when playing a master, who conjures up all kinds of traps in an apparently hopeless situation.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 25 November 2003