Monday, September 5, 2011

Chess Blindness

Why are some positions more difficult to see than others?

Take for instance, this position I played a while back online. I am White.

For some odd reason, I totally missed the shot. The Black king attacks my Knight and I played the most "natural" move... 1. exf6??

Looking at it now, I just cannot understand how I could have missed such a simple tactic.

I had totally missed the simple 1. e6+!! forking both Queen and King. The unusual placement of the Knight and the fact that it can control the e6 square (in reverse) made me unaware of the tactical shot.

However, if you think elite Grandmasters and World Champions are above it all, guess again!

1. In the recently concluded Botvinnik Memorial, the World rated #1 Magnus Carlsen missed this against Viswanathan Anand by playing 1. R4e1?? What did Carlsen miss?

2. Even the great endgame specialist and 3rd World Champion Jose Raul Capablanca suffered from this. In this game v Thomas, his opponent incorrectly resigned after Capablanca played 1. Qa8?? What did Capablanca miss?

3. Even one of the greatest players of all time also suffers from chess blindness. In the following game, Viswanathan Anand v Garry Kasparov. Kasparov took the Bishop with 1...Qxe3?? What did Garry Kimovich miss?

Answers can be found by highlighting the brackets
Game 1
1...g6 2. Ng3 Bf2 and White must sacrifice an exchange down with Rook for Bishop. Carlsen subsequently lost.

Game 2
1... Rxa2! and White is forced to trade massive material leading to a losing endgame 2 pawns down.

Game 3
2. Qxg4 uncovering the hidden attack on the Black Queen and attacking the Rook on c8.


  1. Last one must be Qxg4 instead of ...3.
    Qxg3 is an illegal move. :-)

    I guess this has much to do with boardvision and the abillity to play blindfold chess. If you cannot see what changes in a position when you are calculating its hard to see such combinations since you are not aware of where the pieces stand hence you have no clue on how to attack them.

    Secondly in your first diagram where you missed the by me easy spotted e6+ I think you played to quickly. The saying "If you see a good move, dont play it immediatly, sit on your hands and look for a better one" you didn't do.

  2. Oops. Typo on the last puzzle. I've since correct it. Thanks for spotting it!

    It is interesting in my game, I missed e6+. I did indeed played too quickly. That's because I was calculating a variation that was long but still preserved the advantage when I did the Knight incursion into Black's position and played it.

    I saw e6 as soon as I moved my pawn. Curses!

    You are spot on about me not being able to see the potential changes in the position. Somehow the Knight able to protect the pawn fork from behind slipped out while I was in the midst of calculating.

    Thank you very much for your advice.

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