I want to show you guys my game against Grand Master Omar Almeida and how I imitated Grand Master Boris Gulko but first you need to see how brilliantly effective Gulko plays so you can understand in what ways exactly I imitated him.
There are many more things to be analyzed in Gulko - Radjabov, however, I didn't imitate those parts too well so this will be the last major element that I got from studying Gulko that I expound upon in this series. I recognized this element by going through the games of not only Gulko but Korchnoi as well. Going through the majority of their games I noticed one thing that might seem too simple to others to be taken seriously. But this simple mechanism is what helped me win the game against Grand Master Omar Almeida. It helped keep me focused.
So what is it? It's this thing right here:
Do you know what that is? It's actually hard to answer because it depends on who commands it. If that little thing is being commanded by an inexperienced player, it's called a pawn. If it's being commanded by a Grand Master who has won the US and USSR Chess Championships, it's called a Potential Queen. Yeah, weird, I know. I didn't find that out until very late in my chess career but you know what they always say, "Better late than never."
This is what a normal player pictures when he sees a pawn:
This is what a Grand Master who has beaten Kasparov and Karpov pictures when he sees a pawn:
A Grand Master does not forget his pawns, or rather his Potential Queens, he remembers them throughout the game even if it's at the subconscious level. He's been playing chess well so long that most times he just knows without thinking too hard how important his PQs (Potential Queens) are.
How are most games won in the end? Somebody promotes and it's only a matter of time until the side with the Queen wins the game via Checkmate. That's how games are won among opponents of equal skill level a majority of the time. Studying beautiful attacks and spectacular sacrifices is necessary and fun and will help you tremendously as you try to become a good player but the way to harvest points is to march a PQ down the board and turn it into a Q. That's the penultimate goal (the ultimate goal being to checkmate the enemy King) and it's one you should never forget about.
A good player makes sure he doesn't burn all of his bridges to a good Endgame. A good player doesn't get caught up in a king attack and then lose on time or because he sacrificed speculatively. A good player, if he can't find the winning blow that leads to checkmate in 12, stays relaxed and makes a complete survey of the board before choosing a move that will lead him into a favorable endgame. A good player does not fear an endgame; he embraces it. It's so simple but it's something I did not do for many years and I've now just started doing it.
You probably think I'm some greedy player who never sacrifices. That's totally not true. I sacrificed in most of my games last month; in fact I sacrificed material against four out five Grand Masters. But in all those games I understood the simple truth: most games between equally-skilled opponents are decided in the Endgame. It's understanding that no matter what happens, my PQs are going to have to continue climbing the mountain! They are going to continue making the long and arduous journey to the top of the mountain where there's hardly any water or food. That means that I can't just get lazy and relax. I have to take the Endgame seriously from the first move. That means taking care of the PQs that I have and building up small advantages to make the journey easier.
It's not just a tip, instead, it's a mentality. When you fully accept that the Endgame will be where things are decided then you approach your moves differently. You know you can't burn your bridges and you try your best to accumulate as many small advantages as you can for the inevitable Endgame. And because you know that's where you'll win, you don't grow impatient in the middlegame and make rash decisions.
Here is the complete game without any notes. In my next article I'll share my thoughts on the entire game with some videos and quiz you with some positions from the game. For now, go over the game by yourself without seeing any notes. Formulate your owns opinions on Gulko and Radjabov's moves and on Wednesday you can see how your thoughts compare with both mine and Gulko's.
P is for Princess, not Pawn. Until, next time, my friends