Sunday, Elissa packed for her 12 hour trip with Marshall back to Dallas. Marshall and I played a lot of chess. I’m going to geek out here, so if you care little for chess, then sufficed to say they left and I am playing bachelor for two weeks!
So Marshall and I played about 4 games. And I lost every one. Which brings the grand total of lifetime wins against Marshall when there is no timer involved to zero. I did learn some things, though.
1) I don’t mind losing at all. I’ve been heading down this road for awhile now, I don’t know when the tipping point happened, because I used to cheat at board games and once or twice was declared to be slightly competitive.
2) Marshall uses his knights FAR more effectively than do I. I read too many chess books that claim the knight is the most worthless piece on the board, and this false assertion may have partially led me to readily sacrifice my knight for a trade, for a bishop, for position, for a pawn I just don’t like, for a pawn I didn’t see, for a move I’ll never make, which is 4 moves ahead, or for the feeling that the board looks “cluttered”. Did it really need to take 5 losses in a row to teach me the knight has value? Evidently.
3) I get too wrapped up if things start “happening” for me. The majority of our games were even until I made a coup and then started getting reckless. I think this is the “money in the bank” way of playing. I’m up a piece, so to me that translates not into “if I get another piece I’ll have two ahead,” but into “Looks like I got a piece to burn on something rash and ill-conceived”. This isn’t to say I beat myself, Marshall beat me, handily. Over and over. Because most games, when both players are at least decent, never much go more than a piece or pawn ahead.
4) I need to slow down. Not the time it takes me to move, but my development pace. I need to focus on securing my battlements before I worry about laying siege to his. Perfect example:
Very early in the game, I have a perfect one move mate with Qd4 – A7 ++. But instead, I am too focused on getting my knight Nb5 – d6 for the Queen/Rook fork (which I had been engineering for about 5 moves). Nothing feels worse when your opponent looks at your move and goes, “Why didn’t you just mate me,” and you look up, surprised, with eyes that say, “’Cause I’m an idiot, that’s why”.