Mixup Explained

by admin on May 7, 2013

I don’t know if anybody noticed this, but on Friday a new lecture of mine, called “Learn From Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode XXXIII,” went live on ChessLecture. It was a lecture I was particularly excited about, because I thought that it was a game where a nine-year-old (CL subscriber Advait Patel) defeated a 2300-rated player (Chris Mabe) with a queen sacrifice! A gorgeous game, which would certainly rank as one of the all-time great games by a nine-year-old player.

Except… I got the players backward. It was actually Mabe who played the beautiful queen sacrifice. All of my analysis is still correct, but the whole story line is different. Instead of a once-in-a-lifetime upset by a prodigy, it’s a much more commonplace example of a 2300 player systematically exploiting the mistakes (mostly, too passive play) of an 1800 player.

Poor Advait was in the awkward position of receiving my extravagant praise for a brilliancy he didn’t play. And if Chris Mabe ever found out that I had him losing to a nine-year-old class A player, he would have a right to be very upset.

So for that reason, the lecture that went up on Friday has now been taken down and replaced by another of my lectures (the King’s Gambit I won against Praveen Narayanan). I will re-record the game between Patel and Mabe, giving credit where credit is due this time.

You might wonder how I could make such a bad mistake. Well, there’s sort of a lesson here. When Patel first sent me the game, several months ago, I thought it was sort of odd that he was submitting a game where his opponent played all the great moves. In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be anything surprising about that, but in the real world most people want to show off their own brilliant victories, not their opponents’ brilliant victories.

By the time I came back to the game a few weeks later, I had forgotten who was who, and I just assumed that Patel was the winner. I got too caught up, psychologically, in this wonderful story line of the kid winning a Game of the Century. And so I forgot to check my assumptions.

This is a lesson I have learned over and over in my writing career. It’s the assumptions that you make unconsciously, the questions that you didn’t even realize you should ask, that always trip you up. But I never expected to be tripped up in quite this way!

By the way, this same thing is true in chess, too. It’s the assumptions that you didn’t even know you were making that often lead to mistakes. I’ll show you an example of this in my next post.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan Schmidt May 8, 2013 at 4:37 am

In the first round of the Gibraltar Chess Festival (an open Swiss) this year, the commentators kept on coming back to this amazing game where some 2000-ish player was playing the game of his life, tearing apart an out-of-form Shirov.

Turned out that the boards were out of sync and it was actually David Navara tearing apart a 2000. Suddenly the game wasn’t really that interesting at all.


Matt May 8, 2013 at 7:13 am

Oh! Well it was an excellent lecture nonetheless. I did think at the time that a lot of white’s moves were rather strange but figured that everyone can have a bad day, no matter how high their rating!


Praveen May 9, 2013 at 8:13 am

Ah thanks Dana for putting up that endgame of ours. Do you have a snippet of the Patel-Mabe game here?


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