23 July 2019

Video completed: "Why You Should Never Give Up in Chess" by Tatev Abrahamyan

"Why You Should Never Give Up in Chess" is the fourth video in the new Chess.com series by Tatev Abrahamyan. Like the others, it is around 15 minutes and presents its main theme using some narrated game examples. She states in the intro that the point is not to play on when mate is inevitably coming (which seems to be the fashion these days in OTB tournaments at the Class level) or if you are losing all your pieces. Instead, it's to take advantage of the fact that winning a supposedly won game is not automatic. She reminds the viewer of all the times that you may have thrown away a win after you thought it was a done deal, which I think is something relatable for many of us, and an excellent motivator on the flip side for playing on.

The first of the games is Frank Marshall - Georg Marco, in which the American chess legend manages to work some endgame wizardry versus his opponent, who had an advanced, unstoppable passed pawn. Marshall plays actively to complicate the position and obtains chances when his opponent loses focus on his winning idea, forcing through the passed pawn. Although the pawn does queen, Marshall now has a brilliant tactical resource available, coordinating his rook and knight to win it. While the position is probably drawn afterwards, the psychological blow is too much for Black and he goes on to lose. This illustrates how continuing to fight back, even if objectively losing, can still give you the opportunity for real chances and change your opponent's mindset from winning to losing.

The second game, IM Anita Gara - GM Irina Krush, highlights the tricky nature of rook endgames, which means you should not give up in them. The video picks up the action on move 103 (!) with White in a winning position, having an advanced (7th rank) rook pawn that is passed, with Black's king and rook on the other side of the board. This turns into a RvP endgame that Black manages to hold, once White makes a crucial error. Exhaustion is naturally a factor, as is Krush's knowledge of tricky endgame principles.

Abrahamyan mentions in passing GM Sam Shankland - GM Anish Giri, which is infamous for Shankland resigning in a drawn position, then moves on to the final game, GM Alexander Beliavsky - GM Larry Christiansen. White is up a pawn with an excellent position, so Black has to (in Abrahamyan's words) resort to desperate measures. As in the previous game, a stalemate motif is used by the losing side, except in this case Christiansen finds it from an unexpected middlegame position.

This is another good entry in the video series, both for the psychological and the technical ideas behind using every resource on the board you may have, in order to give yourself chances to save a losing game. The flip side of that coin is the idea is of giving your opponent the most chances to go wrong.

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