Revenge is Sour

There is an old Russian proverb, “The father hit his son, not because he gambled, but because he tried to win back his losses.” In principle, striving for chess revenge is a good intention, but when it becomes an end in itself, you lose your sense of reality and your objectivity in assessing a position. – Mikhail Tal, Life and Games

Regular readers might remember my five queens game of a year ago. That was a classic chess game against young Rhett Langseth, the opening of which was unorthodox but unsurprising, while the midgame marked by mutual blunders resulted in a final total of five queens having appeared on the board in the course of the game.

Tartakower’s axiom held in that game: my opponent made the last blunder and I won. Since then we have not faced off in his pet opening (1.Nf3 followed by d3 – c3 – Nbd2 – e4 – Be2 – 0-0).

This past weekend saw a quick play tournament (g/12 + 3i) in Denver and in the final round I once again had Black against Rhett. His motivation was clearly to avenge his loss of a year before, and as he himself opined immediately upon resigning, he played “too quickly and without thinking.” In the final recorded position (the game continued for several moves), White’s choices are only between losing various assortments of  material.

Readers might compare the treatment of the opening with that in the previous game: I feel today’s example is more incisive.

Jacques Delaguerre