Although I would prefer just figuring this out on my own I feel like I need a stronger or more knowledgeable player to help me out here. I keep seeing a lot of my losses are when I'm up in material, low on time and in the endgame. I just don't understand why this pattern keeps reoccurring. Although it may seem obvious that my endgame skills are the problem it just doesn't feel like that is all there is to it. Here I'll try post a couple of games as an example. I also can't seem to add annotation unfortunately which means it'll be harder to explain some of the silly errors I made. These loses always tend to be the most painful and cause me to sometimes even consider quitting all together.

I play as black in this game. Also note I was low on time in all these games (not saying as an excuse for losing)

[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]
1. d4 Nf6 c4 e6 a3 c5 e3 d5 Nf3 Nc6 Nc3 Be7 dxc5 Bxc5 b4 Be7 Bb2 O-O Be2 dxc4 Bxc4 b6 O-O Bb7 Qe2 a5 Rfd1 Qb8 b5 Na7 Na4 Nc8 Be5 Qa7 Bc7 Bxf3 Qxf3 Qxc7 Qxa8 Qxc4 Rdc1 Qxa4 Rxc8 Qxb5 Rac1 g6 h3 Kg7 Rxf8 Bxf8 Rc7 Qb1+ Kh2 Bd6+ g3 Bxc7 Qb7 Bd6 Qc6 Bxa3 g4 b5 g5 Ne4 Kg2 Nxg5 Qc3+ f6 Qxa3 Qe4+ Kf1 Nxh3 Qe7+ Kh6 Qxf6 Qf5 Qh4+ Qh5 Qf6 e5 Qf8+ Kg5 Qe7+ Kf5 Qd7+ Ke4 Qc6+ Kf5 Qd7+ Kg5 Qe7+ Kg4 Qd7+ Qf5 Qd1+ Qf3 Qd7+ Kh5 Qxh7+ Kg5 Qe7+ Kh6 Qh4+ Qh5 Qe7 b4 Qf8+ Kg5 Qe7+ Kg4 Qd7+ Qf5 Qd1+

Lost on time, I'll show one more even though I've got way too many examples of games such as these haha.

Playing white this game

[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]
1. e4 c6 Nf3 d5 Nc3 d4 Ne2 c5 c3 d3 Nf4 c4 Qa4+ Nc6 Qxc4 e5 Nxd3 f6 Nc5 Qd6 Nb3 Be6 Qd3 Qc7 Qc2 Bd6 d4 Bf7 Bb5 a6 16. Bxc6+ bxc6 17. Be3 Ne7 18. dxe5 fxe5 19. Nfd2 O-O Bc5 Rfd8 O-O-O a5 Bxd6 Rxd6 Nf3 Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 h6 25. Kb1 Rd8 26. Rxd8+ Qxd8 27. Nxe5 Be8 28. Nd4 c5 29. Ndf3 a4 30. Nd3 Qc7 31. b3 a3 32. h3 Qa7 33. Nd2 Bh5 34. f3 Bf7 35. Nc4 Bxc4 36. bxc4 Nc6 37. Qd2 Na5 38. Ne5 Qb8+ 39. Kc1 Qxe5 40. Qd8+ Kh7 41. Qxa5 Qf4+ 42. Kc2 Qe3 43. Qxa3 Qf2+ 44. Kb3 Qe3 45. Qb2 Qd3 46. a4 Qd1+ 47. Ka3 Qd6 48. Qb5 Qe5 49. Kb3 Qd6 50. a5 Qd1+ 51. Ka3 Qa1+ 52. Kb3 Qb1+ 53. Ka4 Qa2#

some obvious mistakes here like one of the many was me trying to trade dark squared bishops when his one is absolutely terrible, I regretted that choice during the game immediately

Also just remembering that my nerves tend to play up sometimes or I get quite emotional during play which I'm confident effects the ability to focus or think clearly. Although I try to work on this problem sometimes it feels like it can't be helped and everything just becomes somewhat chaotic in my mind. Maybe its my ego or my strong desire to win or not lose that is causing this, I'm not entirely sure. Honestly all these games look to me like I shouldn't be playing this bad and its not showing my real skill but that is really only what I feel about it and in reality I did play those games and there is no excuse and I guess I have to take responsibility and I deserved to lose.

3 Answers 3


Here are my observations:

  1. Both games are long. The average game lasts about 40 moves. No wonder you ran out of time!
  2. I can see you know the principle that when you are ahead in material, trade down. However, both games involved your king being chased around by the queen. You are not trading the right pieces
  3. You don't need to be up that much material to win a technical game


  1. Learn to play more efficient chess. I'm guessing it took you some time to figure out all the branches in the tactical analysis

I feel that you are trying to find the best move by calculation. I.e. that you are trying to see 5 moves ahead to see if you can win more material. What I believe you should do is aim to look 2 and a half moves ahead and base those moves on your evaluation. This is particularly useful in non-tactical situations.

For example, in your first game you win material and have to solidify. At move 31, you make life more complicated for yourself with 31...b5. Why not offer to trade queens with 31...Qe4, which needs almost no calculation? That move follows the principles and is in line with your evaluation of having to solidify and trade down.

  1. When ahead in material, your first priority should be to trade queens. This is a big reduction in material and reduces the opponents counter attacking chances a great deal
  2. Don't spend so much time gaining more material. Spend time either solidifying your position or reducing the opponent's counter chances
  • What are some ways to learn more efficient chess?
    – Krane
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 11:16
  • @Krane: Good question. I'll edit into my answer.
    – user1108
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 12:12

I would just like to expand a bit an answer given by @Bad_Bishop to perhaps give you some more specific ideas to look for - his observation #3 is one of the most important things you need to start applying, and it can be seen in both of your games, considering you said that you were low on time.

You don't always need to play the best move, especially when you already have an advantage. You can even give up some of the material to simplify the position.

For example, in the first game, you were chased by his Queen, losing precious time for no gain. But when an opportunity to get out of that showed up, you did not take it. You should be more active, even if it means sacrificing some of your material:

[FEN "8/7p/4p1pk/pp5q/7Q/4P2n/5P2/5K2 w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.Qf6 Qd1+ 2. Kg2 Qg4+ 3. Kf1 (3. Kh2 Ng5 4. Qf8+ Kh5 5. Qc5 {Preventing your Knight from moving} (5. Qf4 Nf3+ 6. Kh1 Qg1#) e5 {You sacrifice a Pawn, but white will lose ability to check you on f8 when you move your King} 6. Qxe5 Kh6 7. Qf4 {Again, preventing you from moving your Knight and giving checkmate, but now you can exchange the Queens} Qxf4+ 8. exf4 Ne6 9. Kg3 a4 {As in the main line, Pawn can't be stopped, position is very simple and it requires no time to think.}) Qg1+ 4. Ke2 Qxf2+ {You end up giving your Kinght for a Pawn, but at the same time Queens are forcefully exchanged, and white has no more material for attacking back, which gives you simple and clear position.} 5. Qxf2 Nxf2 6. Kxf2 a4 {This Pawn can't be stopped, and you don't even need to think anymore, you can win this in less than ten seconds}

In the second game, after 46...Qd1+, you played fine but passive move Ka3. But with Qc2 you are much more active, you threaten to exchange the Queens, and you also have discovered check with e5+, which enables you to get aggressive with your middle pawns:

[FEN "8/6pk/7p/2p5/P1P1P3/1KP2P1P/1Q4P1/3q4 w KQkq - 0 1"]

1. Qc2 Qd7 2. e5+ Kg8 3. Qe2 {Support your pawn, now black has to defend and waste time thinking how to do it} Kf8 4. e6 Qe7 {Now black Queen is pinned here and he can't really afford to move it - note that there are other moves which black could do, but all end up similar because he has to defend here} 5. Qe5 Qe8 (5...Qb7+ {Your King is perfectly safe here} 6. Ka3 Qe7 7. Qb8+ Qe8 8. Qxe8+ Kxe8 9. a5 {Now you can promote either a-Pawn or e-Pawn without even thinking, depending on black's reposnse, you just need to push the one which is furthest from black King.}) 6. Qf5+ Kg8 7. Qf7+ Qxf7 8. exf7 Kxf7 9. a5 {You sacrificed your e-Pawn, but position is now very simple for you, just push this Pawn.}

In both of those games at the end, when you had an opportunity to make an active move, you instead went for more passive play, giving your opponent another chance to attack you. In the first game in position I referred to, you played e5, which didn't bring you anything, your opponent still had the same attacking moves and he started chasing you around while you had to lose time avoiding making some blunder. In the second game, your King was perfectly safe on b3, but instead of taking your chance to make some threats, you passively responded to opponent's moves, and you ended up making a blunder.

Remember, defending is very time-consuming, so try to look for active moves. Let your opponent be the one to defend and waste time, and you can already plan ahead your next few moves while he is thinking. When you have such an advantage as you had in these games, you can easily afford to even give up some of the material in order to eliminate opponent's possible threats.

You often don't need more than a Pawn to win the game, so when you have material advantage, your first priority if you're low on time should always be to simplify the position as much as possible.


You are making basic blunders as in the checkmate in the second game. Ways to avoid this are

  1. Study tactics online or in books
  2. Play games with longer time controls and increments.

There's no shortcut.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.