Defence in Practical Games

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When I was a child I got a wonderful lesson from the old Bulgarian master Petar Liangov. My game against him taught me that the result is literally not determined until the scoresheets are signed. It was a Dune 1995 or 1996 (not sure) tournament (I was 12-13 years old and it was my first trip abroad). The master played White and after a long struggle, the game approached the position on the diagram.


The game continued 1.g7 Kf7. At this moment anticipating the obvious 2.Kh7 Bxg7 I was in full confidence that the game would end with this and we will sign the scoresheets. I was glad to hold to a draw such an experienced player. What was my surprise when Liangov, visibly frustrated, stopped the clock and resigned! Of course, I immediately exclaimed that he surrendered in vain and the simple. ..Kh7 would have led to an immediate stalemate. My opponent, without batting an eye, put a draw result on his scoresheet! Since there was a stalemate on the board, I was unable to prove what happened and arbiter awarded a draw. I was only 12 and I was very upset but not because of missing an accidental victory but by the fact that first time in my life I encountered such a frank deception. Of course, now I think that I was fortunate to meet Petar Liangov and get such an invaluable experience! A person is weak and often tends to relax when being a step away from the goal. On the contrary, we often fall into despondency when the situation looks hopeless. Regardless of your game situation, you should always remember Lasker's famous saying: The hardest game to win is the won game. It is impossible to give a universal prescription for all cases how to defend stubbornly or on the contrary how to convert a decisive advantage without flaws. Nevertheless, some rules exist. In four (out of 5) of the examples that I give in the article, the strong side was too rushed to convert his advantage. This is indeed a very common mistake which is often associated with banal fatigue and a lack of patience. Using the "do-not-hurry" principle formulated by Mark Dvoretsky in his books can often help in overcoming this haste in converting advantage. Also, you can check the games of such great technicians like Ulf Andersson, Anatoly Karpov, and Magnus Carlsen. When defending bad positions, it is necessary, of course, to preserve the presence of the spirit and wait for the moment when you can take your opponent out of his comfort zone. Usually, a sharp change of the situation could be very unpleasant for your opponent who is trying to increase the pressure gradually. No battle has yet been won after a premature surrender!

Before diving into the article, please take a look at the following notes concerning the structure of the material:

Prior to each annotated game, you are strongly advised to solve the interactive tests related to that game. In this way, you will be able to test your defensive skills in a situation which simulates a practical game.

After completing the article, you can check your statistical result in "My Results" section.

I wish you a good luck! 


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