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Victor Bologan:

The psychology of the decisive


mistake
In this article I am going only to open the
discussion about the decisive mistake in the
chess game, what is behind this mistake,
what is the psychological background of it.
Of course the best is to start with my own
games, since only the player himself can
describe what he was thinking during the
game and why he made that and this
decision.
My last tournament I played in Poikovsky
was full of decisive games as well as full of
decisive mistakes. One game of it reminded
me my painful loose to Laznicka in 2009, so
I added this example as well.
Laznicka V. : Bologan V.
Khanty Mansyisk 2009
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nf3 e6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Bd2
Qe7 6.Nc3 00 7.Bg2 Bc3 8.Bc3 Ne4 9.Rc1
d6 10.d5 Nb8 11.de6 fe6 12.00 Nd7
13.Be1 a5 14.Nd2 Nef6 15.Nb3 a4 16.Nd4
e5 17.Nb5 Nc5 18.Bb4 Ne6 19.Qd2 h6
20.f4 ef4 21.gf4 Bd7 22.e4 c5 23.Bc3 Bb5
24.cb5 Rad8 25.Rce1 Kh8 26.Qd1 Nd7
27.Qd2 Qh4 28.f5 Nd4 29.Bd4 cd4 30.Qd4
Ne5 31.Qa4 Rf5 32.Rf5 Qe1 33.Rf1 Qe3
34.Kh1 Rc8 35.Qd1 Qc5 36.a4 Qb4 37.b3
b6 38.Qd5 Qa3 39.Bh3 Rc1 40.Qa8 Kh7
41.Bf5 g6 42.Bg6 Kg6 43.Qe8 Kg5 44.Qe7
Kh5 45.Qe8 Ng6 46.Qf7 Rf1 47.Qf1 Qc5
48.b4 Qe5 49.Qf5 Qf5 50.ef5 Ne5 51.a5
ba5 52.ba5
This was the third game out of 4 games
rapid tie-break match in the 1/16 final in the
World Cup, Khanty-Mansiisk 2009. Viktor
was leading with 1,50,5. After some
mutual mistakes I ended up with an extra
piece, winning position and only seconds
left on my opponent's clock. Just stay cool
and win. Which I didn't do.

FIDE Surveys Victor Bologan

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52...Nc4
First decisive mistake, which deprives from
the possibility to even score. Even kids now
that in the endgame it's very important to
centralize or even better activate the king.
USE THE KING!
52...Kg5 53.b6 Nd7 54.b7 Nb8 55.Kg2 Kf5
56.Kf3 Ke5 57.Ke3 Kd5 58.Kd3 Kc6+.
53.b6 Na5

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54.h4!!
I remember very well this moment, the
move was made with only 9 seconds left on
the clock! Here I started to use my extra
time but the shock was so big that I even
couldn't find the draw.
54...d5 55.Kg2 d4 56.Kf2 d3 57.Ke1
57.Ke3 Nc4.
57...Nb7
The knight has to go.
58.Kd2
1

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58Nc5??
The final decisive mistake, which sent me
directly to the ticket office in order to book
my flight from Khanty. Here I see the reason
in a destroyed psicological mood together
with standard thinking, which is useless in
lost or difficult positions. If I would look for
IDEA I might have found 58...Nd6!! 59.Kd3
Kh4! This is the conceptual part of the
IDEA - to activate the king. 60.f6 Kg5 61.f7
Nf7 62.b7 Ne5! and this is the tactical
foundation of the IDEA. 63.Ke4 Nd7=.
59.Ke3 Kg4 60.f6 d2 61.Ke2 Nd7 62.f7
Kf5 63.b7 Ke6 64.f8Q Kd5
Bologan go home! Lessons:
1.Having much more time againts severe
opponent's time trouble makes sence to
waist part of in order to go deepper into
calculations.
2.Any endgame is asking all the pieces to be
active including the King. This is due to a
restricted number of pieces left on the board,
so there importancy is growing up.
3.Loosing an advantage it's not necesarly yet
loosing the game. The mind flexibility
should help us to switch to a new task (make
a draw) and look for new, some times
paradoxal ideas. 1:0
Jakovenko D. : Bologan V.
Poikovsky 2013
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 Nf6 5.d4
cd4 6.ed4 d5 7.cd5 Nd5 8.Qb3 Nc3 9.Bc4
Nd5 10.Bd5 e6 11.Bc6 bc6 12.00 Qd5
13.Bg5 Bg7 14.Rfc1 f6 15.Be3 Bf8 16.Nd2
FIDE Surveys Victor Bologan

Be7 17.Qc3 Bb7 18.f3 00 19.Ne4 Rfd8


20.Qe1 Qf5 21.Nc5 Bc8 22.Qa5 Qd5
23.Qc7 Re8 24.Ne4 f5 25.Qe7 Re7 26.Nf6
Kf7 27.Nd5 ed5 28.Bf4 Bb7 29.Kf2 Ke8
30.Bg5 Rf7 31.Rc3 f4 32.Re1 Kd7 33.g3
fg3 34.hg3 Re8 35.Re8 Ke8 36.g4 Kd7
37.Kg3 Bc8 38.Bf4 Rf8 39.Bb8 a6 40.Be5
h5 41.gh5 gh5 42.Kh4
My opponent is a clear technical player who
adores those positions without counterplay
and of course with a little edge. So here is
another example how he is collecting points
in this situations. Still even I've got the
worsed imaginable situation in the first
round black color against unconfortable
opponent, number one seeded in the
tournament, after long trip from Doha and
non-sleep night, I still had real chances to
draw the game.

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42...a5?
How can be this natural move decisive
mistake? The answer is time. Often in a
worse positions there are not many ways to
hold the defence, some times there is only
move. I think this was exactly that kind of
situation. My logic during the game was,
that I should activate at any price my pieces
especially the bishop, but beside the fact that
I am weakening my pawn and the bishop
maneuvre a6e2is quite slow, I still don't
develop the king. Instead I had a typical
pawn sacrifice in a different color positions.
42...c5 - I was thinking of giving this pawn,
only connected with the march of the king to
f5 and leaving it unprotected on c6. The
difference of the two version is huge. In case
2

of 43.dc5 more strong is 43.Rc5, but in this


case I take the very important pawn on f3,
which is increasing my chances a lot, since
in many positions the exchange of the rooks
becomes possible. 43...Rf3 44.b3 Rf2
45.Rd5 Ke6 46.Rd6 Ke7 47.a4 Rf3 48.b4
Rh3 49.Kg5 h4 50.Rh6 Rh1 51.b5 ab5
52.ab5 Rg1 53.Kf4 h3 54.b6 Rf1 55.Ke3
Re1 56.Kf2 Rb1 57.d5 Rb5 58.Rh7 Ke8
59.Bc7 h2 60.Rh2 Rb2 61.Ke3 Rh2 62.Bh2
Kd7=) 43...Kc6 44.f4 Bg4.
I succeed, in three aspects, improve the king
and the bishop as well as create a passed
pawn d. The chances for draw here are very
good.
43.f4
After this Dmitri showed his technique
convicingly.
43...Ke6 44.Rc6 Kf5 45.Rc5 Be6 46.Ra5
Rg8 47.Kh5 Rg2 48.Kh6 Rb2

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49.Kg7!
The king is going to queeneside.
49...Bd7 50.Ra7 Bb5 51.a4 Bc4 52.a5 Ra2
53.Kf8 Ra1 54.Ke7 Ra2 55.Kd6 Ra1
56.Kc5 Ke4 57.Ra8 Ra2 58.Bc7 Rc2
59.Re8 Kf5 60.Re5 Kf6 61.Bd8 Kf7 62.f5
Rf2 63.Bg5
Lessons:
1. It is important to feel the danger little bit
before he knocks at you door. That will
make you more concentrated and even more
prepared.
2. Activity of pieces in the minor positions
especially with the different color bishops is
very important. As well is very precious the
FIDE Surveys Victor Bologan

time. Only a high level of concentration and


presize moves can help.
3. Material sacrifice is very common method
of salvation. 1:0.
Bologan V. : Cheparinov I.
Poikovsky 2013
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 d5 4.cd5 Nd5 5.e4
Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 00 8.Qd2 e5 9.d5 c6
10.Rd1 cd5 11.ed5 N8d7 12.Nh3 e4 13.fe4
Ne5 14.Nf2 Nbc4 15.Bc4 Nc4 16.Qe2 Ne3
17.Qe3 Qb6 18.Qb6 ab6 19.00 Bd7 20.h3
h5 21.Nd3 Rfe8 22.Nb4 Be5 23.Rf3 Kg7
24.Nc2 Bc3 25.Rc3 Ra2 26.Rc7 Ba4
27.Rf1 Bc2 28.Rff7 Kg8 29.Rg7 Kh8
30.Rh7 Kg8 31.Rcg7 Kf8 32.Rb7 Kg8
33.Rbg7 Kf8 34.Rc7 Kg8 35.Rhg7 Kh8
36.d6
36.e5 Bf5 37.e6 Be6 38.de6 Re6 39.Rgd7
Ra8.
36...Raa8
36...Ra1 37.Kh2 Rd1 38.e5 Ba4 39.Rh7 Kg8
40.Rcg7 Kf8 41.Ra7 Bb3 42.Rh8 Bg8
43.Re7.
37.Rh7 Kg8 38.Rcg7 Kf8 39.d7 Red8
40.Rf7 Kg8 41.e5 Bf5
41...Ra1 42.Kf2 Bf5 43.Rfg7 Kf8 44.Re7
Bd7 45.Rhf7 Kg8 46.Rd7 Rd7 47.Rd7 Ra2
48.Rd2 Kf7 49.Ke3 Ra5 50.Ke4 Rb5.
42.Rfg7 Kf8 43.Re7 Kg8 44.Rhg7 Kh8
45.Rgf7

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In his calculations Ivan arrived to this
position, which should be an easy draw after
Kg8, since white can not improve.
45...Rd7
3

But after some thought Cheparinov found


my idea - the sacrifice of the full rook on f5.
For example:
45...Kg8 46.Rf5! 46...gf5 47.e6 f4 (47...Kf8
48.Rf7 Kg8 49.Kf2+) 48.Kf2 Rf8 49.Kf3
b5 50.b4 Ra3 51.Ke4 Raa8 52.Ke5 Rab8
53.Kd6 h4 54.Kc6 Kh8 55.Kc7 Ra8
(55...Kg8 56.Rf7+) 56.Rf7.
46.Rd7
So opponent found the only way to continue
the fight for the - to transpose the game into
a rook ending with a pawn down.
46...Bd7 47.Rd7 Ra5 48.e6 Re5 49.e7 Kg8
50.Rb7 Kf7 51.Rb6 Re7 52.Kf2
As we know from classical books on
endings, the b pawn increases white's
chances for win, since it's closer for the king
to come back to the kingside after winning
the rook. From another hand the fact that on
the king side are left only two pairs of
pawns makes more easy black's counterplay,
especialy to create a passed pawn. So ones
again the game should confirm the golden
rule that all rook endgames are drawn!
52...Re4?!
I don't see very clear the reason of this
move, better was 52...Rc7 53.Kf3 g5 54.g4
h4!, creating a very important target on h3
55.Ke4 Rc4 56.Kd3 Rc1=.
53.Rb3!
Now white will place the rook on the third
rank which according same classics it's
slightly better then to have the rook in front
of the pawn.
53...Kf6 54.Re3 Rb4 55.b3 Kf5 56.Ke2 g5
57.Kd2 Rb8!
Preparing the frontal attack of the king, in
order not to allow to advance the b pawn.
58.Kc3 Rc8 59.Kb2 Rb8 60.Rc3
I have choosen this example for the reason
that black made two decisive mistakes
during the game. I understand that is
nonsense like dying twice, but there still left
some room for logics: often happens that
during the game we get one or two (some
times even more) clear chances to make a
draw or to win the game. And it's human
that we might miss them. From this point of
view missing a draw on ... move my
opponent made a decisive mistake, since the
chance that he will find next (much more
difficult) idea for draw it will be much
FIDE Surveys Victor Bologan

lower, especially with very limited time on


the clock.
60...Kf4?
Instead 60...Ke4! would save black an
important tempo (on g3 black already has
g4!) 61.Rc4 (61.g4 h4; 61.g3 g4 62.hg4 hg4)
61...Ke3 62.b4 Kf2 63.Rc2 Kg3 64.Kc3 g4
65.hg4 hg4 66.Rb2 Kh2 67.b5 Rb6 68.Kc4
g3 69.Kc5 (69.Kd4 Kg1 70.Kc5 Rf6 71.b6
Rf2 72.Rb1 Kg2 73.b7 Rf8) 69...Rf6!=
I must point out that this is the best and only
way to create counterplay for black - using
the protected by the pawn square f2 to attack
both pawn and rook.
61.g3 Ke4 62.Rc5 Rg8?
It's very hard to name this move as a
decisive mistake, since it's very natural way
of deffending the pawn, but again same is in
the first example the activity of the pieces
can be more important then material. On
62...g4! I was going to win the second pawn
with no doubts that the position should be
some how winning for me. 63.Rh5 gh3
64.Rh3 Rg8!

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In my more the 30 years chess career I first
time meet this situation when white a two
healthy (not h and a) pawns, and there is no
clear way to win. The rook on h3 is very
passive so it's clear that white has to sacrify
the pawn on g3 and to transpose into some
theoretical rook endgame with extra b pawn.
But in this case the pawn on b3 is not
advanced enough while black king is very
well placed in the center. 65.Rh4 (65.Kc3
Rc8 66.Kb4 Rb8 67.Ka3 Ra8 68.Kb2)
65...Ke5 66.g4 Ke6 67.b4 Kd5 68.Kb3 Kc6
4

69.Kc4 Rg5! The only way for white is to go


to the kingside: 70.Kd4 Kd6! 71.Ke3 Rb5
72.Kf4 Ke6! Black is not in rush of taking
the pawn: 73.Rh6 Kf7 74.Ra6 Rb4 75.Kg5
Rb8 76.Rg6 Ra8=; 62...h4 63.Rg5.
63.b4+
Now the game is over.
63...Kf3 64.Rc3 Kg2 65.g4 h4 66.Kb3
I was not sure about 66.b5 Rb8 67.Rb3 Ra8!
The best chance is not allow king to
approach 68.b6 Rb8 69.b7 Rb7 70.Rb7 Kh3
71.Kc3 Kg4 72.Kd2 Kg3 73.Ke2 Kg2
74.Rg7+ and white is just on time.
66...Rb8 67.Rd3
So I decided before going for the forced
lines to improve my king.
67...Kh2 68.Re3 Kg2 69.Kc4 Rc8 70.Kd5
Rd8 71.Kc5 Rc8 72.Kd6 Rd8 73.Ke7 Rb8
74.Rb3 Rb5 75.Kd6
Lessons:
1. Almost all rook endgames are drawish, so
a good knowledge together with the active
normally brings the desired result.
2. In a worse position, especially with the
pawn down, need to find a target for
counterplay.
3. Miracles happents. Even with two pawns
down the draw can be made. Fight till the
end and you will be rewarded!
1:0.
Laznicka V. : Bologan V.
Poikovsky 2013
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3
Bb4 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Nc3 d5 8.cd5 ed5 9.Bg2
00 10.00 Re8 11.Rc1 Nbd7 12.Ne5 Bb7
13.Bg5 Nf8 14.e3 c6 15.f4 Rc8 16.Qf3 Rc7
17.Rc2 h6 18.Bh4 N6h7 19.Be7 Rce7
20.Na4 Qd6 21.Rfc1 Rc7 22.Nc3 Rce7
23.Nd1 Rc8 24.Nc3 Nf6 25.Nb5 cb5
26.Rc8 Bc8 27.Rc8 Rc7 28.Rc7 Qc7
29.Qe2 a6 30.Qd2 Ne6 31.Kf2 Nd8 32.g4
Nb7 33.g5 hg5 34.fg5 Ne4 35.Be4 de4
36.Kg2 Nd6 37.Qf2 Qc8 38.Qf4 Qc2
39.Kg3 Qc8 40.g6 f6 41.Ng4 Qe6 42.d5
Qd7 43.h4 Kf8 44.Kh3 Ke7 45.h5 Qf5
46.Qf5 Nf5 47.Nf2
The game quite balanced, white had slight
positional advantage, while black had
comfortable easy play and much better time,
FIDE Surveys Victor Bologan

so with good play for both sides which we


actually showed until this moment the game
should end in draw. I think that would
happen if I wouldn't big time edge
something like 50 minutes against
opponents 10 till the rest of the game. Viktor
carefully calculated all variations, while me
I did same work on his time, but completely
didn't use my time!

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47...Ne3
Played after one (out of fifty) minutes left on
my clock. Before changing my mind for Ne3
I was going to play 47...Kd6 48.Ne4 Kd5.
But I didn't like 49.Ng3, so I have to place
my night on the very passive square,
assesing the position as much better for
white. What I didn't consider was the
activity of black king and the potential
weaknesses of white pawns. 49...Nh6
50.Kg2 b4 51.Kf3 Ke5 52.e4 a5 53.Ke3 Ng4
54.Kf3 Nh6 55.Nf1. The moment the knight
leaves the g3 square black has to answer
with 55...f5 ! 56.ef5 Kf5 with the easy draw.
So, one of the reasons of my mistake was
not using properly my time, second
underestimating the activity of my king in
the mentioned line and the third is coming
up ...

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48.h6+ !!
I mainly considered the forced line 48.d6
Kd6 49.h6 Nd5! This nice move completely
block my mind 50.Ne4 Ke5 51.hg7 (51.h7
Nf4) 51...Ne7 and black at list is not worse.
48...gh6
In case of 48...Nd5 49.hg7, comparing with
the previous line the knight doesn't have the
square e7 in order to stop the g pawn. And
this exactly what I blundered. So, the third
reason of my mistake was not proper
calculation, especially not considering the
all candidates moves even on the first move.
49.d6
Another brillant win in the endgame by
Laznicka against me with the little time left
on the clock.
Lessons:
1. Don't play on opponent's time. Never!
Use the time advantage to know more about
the position, explore and enjoy doing it.
Take it like a must exercise.
2. Even the game goes the way you
calculated, after each made move review
your previous calculations.
3. The moment it is difficult for you to
assess a position, or you don't like it - it's
like been in a fog, light on the bright lamp of
your brain and try to go one move, one idea
further in the position.
1:0.

FIDE Surveys Victor Bologan

Bologan V. : Nepomniachtchi I.
Poikovsky 2013
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 e6 4.e4 d5 5.Nc3 de4
6.fe4 e5 7.d5 Bc5 8.Nf3 Qd6 9.Bd3 Nbd7
10.Bd2 a5 11.Qe2 00 12.000 Re8
13.Kb1 Nh5 14.g3 Ndf6 15.Be3 Bd7
16.Rd2 Ng4 17.Bc5 Qc5 18.Nh4 Ra6
19.Re1 Kh8 20.h3 Ngf6 21.Qh2 Rb6
22.Nf3 Qe7 23.Rc2 Ng8 24.Be2 f5 25.Bd3
f4 26.g4 Ng3 27.c5 Rf6 28.g5 Rff8 29.Ne2
Ne2 30.Ree2 h6 31.Rg2 Qh7 32.h4 h5
33.Rgd2 Bg4 34.Qf2 Qg7 35.Rc3 Ne7
36.Bc2 Nc8 37.Qg2 Rd8 38.Nh2 Bd7
39.Bd3 c6 40.d6 b6 41.Ba6 bc5 42.Bc8 Bc8
43.Qf2 Bg4 44.Rc5 f3 45.Ra5 Rf4 46.Ra7
Qf8
Having a strategically winning position
during the biggest part of the game, I
sudenly realized that the last ten moves we
used for different purposes. I was hesitating,
calculating and actually doing nothing,
while Ian got rid of his bad pieces, made a
passed pawn and already started to create an
unpleasunt threats. At this moment having
also a little time left, I was very close to
loose the calm and even the game.

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47.Ng4!
Only move. I've already understood that it's
me who has to fight for the draw. It was
painful but I had to low down my ambitions
in this game. So I was lucky to find a forced
draw.
47...hg4
47...Rg4 48.Qb6! Remember this square!
48...Rg2 49.Qc7 Qg8 50.Rd1 f2 51.Qe7+.
6

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48.h5!!
Opening the h file allows white to create the
second front.
48...Re4??
Of course my opponent saw that after
48...g3 49.Qg3 f2 50.Rf2 Rf2 51.Qe5 Kg8
52.Qe6 Kh8 53.Qe5 the game will and to
perpetual check, but he had a lot of extra
time, while I was in the time-trouble, the
fact which definitely damaged his
objectivity.
49.hg6
I am pretty sure that my opponent
considered only the most natural 49.Qh4 the
line which coinceded with my first candidate
move 49...g3 50.Qe4 Qf5! 51.Qf5 gf5. To be
honest, during the game I thought, that I am
loosing, which likely forced me to look for
better moves, but even here white has a
handsome draw 52.Rd1 g2 53.g6 f2 54.h6
g1Q 55.Rh7 Kg8 56.Rg7=.
49...g3

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Even having two solutions I was very happy


to find one of them. Here the queen is
multifunctional. Going to c7 with mating
threats, attacking on d8 and also helping the
d pawn in case he decides to queen.
50.Qg3! was also winning: 50...Qf5 51.Rh2
Kg8

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52.Ka1!! I am sure that move also escaped
from Ian's attention. 52...Qg4 53.g7! Now
the game is over.
50...Re1 51.Kc2 Qf5 52.Rd3!+ Rd7
53.Rd7 Qd7 54.Qc7 Re2 55.Kc3 Qg7
56.Qd8 Qg8 57.Qf6
Lessons:
1. Same like lesson 3 in the game with
Nepomniaschii. With the only difference
that this time I followed my advice, calm
down and found a clear way to draw.
2. Don't rush in the winning position with
much more time on the clock. Pay much of
attention to the possible and even impossible
opponent's counterchances.
3. Under severe time pressure don't give up
psycologically, continue looking for the
moves, opportunities. From my own
experience I can say, that I found many only
moves with seconds left on the clock.
1:0.

50.Qb6!
FIDE Surveys Victor Bologan