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When You See A Good Move....

A grandmaster once said "When you see a good move, look for a better one." Even the best over-the-board players miss the best moves, discovering them only during post-game analysis. Over-the-board chess is stressful and the clock is ticking. As a correspondence chess player though, you can sit down with the game and look it over carefully. When you find a good move, you have time to look for a better one. Here's a simple example from one of my own email games.

Look for a better one TOWNSEND-KEARMAN
Email  2000.04.04

Black to play:

My knight is attacked!

1...Nd5 looks good. It forks the rook on e3 and the bishop on f4. White loses one or the other, right? Lets look more closely:

1....Nd5 2. Rxe8 Rxe8 3. Bd2

All I have done is trade rooks. I haven't improved my position or gained material. Is there anything better?

What about 1....Ne2+ ?

Having learned the hard way not to put pieces where they can be captured, I might have overlooked this move. Sometimes the best moves look crazy at first, and this is a forcing move. That means I am forcing White to do something about the check. By forcing White to do something I should be able to predict the outcome more easily. How can White get out of check?

Suppose White simply plays rook-takes-knight?

2. Rxe2 Rxe2, and Black wins the exchange, knight for rook.

What if White moves his king instead? Did you notice that Ne2+ forks the king and the bishop?

2. Kh1 Nxf4 and Black wins the bishop. White actually made this move, although 2. Rxe2 was better, losing only two points instead of three.

Short of resigning, 2. Rxe2 and 2. Kh1 were White's only options, because I played a forcing move, instead of only an attacking move. By forcing, I gained material, instead of only exchanging rooks. That knight fork was very attractive, but there was something better.

When you see a good move, look for a better one!