It must have been almost 10 years ago when I signed up for an open chess tournament. I started playing the game seriously in my late twenties—way too old to start competitive chess! Competitive chess is really time-consuming—many hours hovering over a chess board, analysing complex positions; and many more hours reading chess literatures, studying positional theories and endgames etc. I have since lost a major portion of all those knowledge, having given up on the game some years ago. However, some pleasant memories have remained up to now.
In the fourth round, I was paired up against a promising young player. Time control was 90 minutes plus 45 minutes after reaching 40 moves. I was the underdog. He had the white pieces, and so it was even harder for me to dictate the game.
1. d4 d5
When you have played chess for long enough, there will come a time when you will stumble upon the queen's pawn opening—a sound opening which has been adopted by many grandmasters for ages. It will often lead to a very positional game where theoritical knowledge is very important.
2. c4 e6
White offers his flank pawn, a maneuver known as the queen's gambit; but at the same time attacking the d5 pawn. I decided to play safe, and therefore defended my d pawn with the e pawn. This is known as the Queen's Gambit Declined.
3. Nc3 Nf6
White develops his knight while attacking the d5 pawn again; and black develops his knight while defending that d5 pawn. The d5 pawn is therefore attacked twice and defended three times (the queen on d8 defends it too). Still OK.
Now white plays aggressively; he develops his queen's bishop and pins black's knight at f6. Now we have a bit of an issue. Black's f6 knight can't move, because if it moves, white's bishop can take the black queen on d8. In other words, that f6 knight is indirectly no longer defending the d5 pawn. How should black defend? Many people would defend with ... Be7 here. This move breaks the pin while developing a piece at the same time.
4. ... Nbd7
A dubious-looking move by black. This move develops a minor piece and defends the f6 knight. However, it does not break the pin. The black queen is therefore still in danger. Besides, that knight standing on the d7 square blocks the queen's defense of the d5 pawn. So now the d5 pawn is only defended by the e6 pawn and the f6 knight, but the latter is stuck to his post because of the pin. White was therefore able to take advantage of the situation and win materials.
5. cxd5 exd5
Now white has gained a pawn, and at the same time attacks the f6 knight twice. If that f6 knight moves, white's bishop will take black's queen at d8. Therefore a passive (defensive) move like ...Be7 comes to mind.
6. ... Nxd5!!
The black knight breaks the pin by brute force, and wins a knight for a pawn!
As early as this 6th move, I had technically won the game. The rest of the game was just to make sure not to make any mistake. I played safe by trading down proportionately, clearning off the board as quickly as I could.
I take no credit for the above repertoire. The trap was invented by a renown grandmaster more than a hundred years ago. Those painful hours reading chess literatures can be useful.
There are lessons to be learnt here.
1) In most battles, planning and preparations are very, very important. Without proper preparations, one is often caught by unpleasant surprises.
2) Never ever underestimate your opponents, even if it seems impossible for them to beat you.
3) Always be patient and be united. Rushing out to attack the enemy without developing your pieces first is almost always a bad strategy. Try to resist the greed. It is normally much easier to attack when all your pieces (resources) are developed and can work together. You know the saying (CoC Michael Pang knows this one): Numbers have strength.
During this election season, we see that the ruling Barisan Nasional planned well ahead. Their campaigning actually started long before the the dissolution of parliament. The opposition also did some preparations, although to a much lesser extent. They had very limited resources, and permits for gatherings were not easy to get!
I can't help but feel that the ruling Government is underestimating some opposition candidates, but maybe the have a justifiable reason for doing so.
However, the most pitiful fact is that the opposition parties are not united. Endless bickerings, different agendas and manifestos. How are we to have any confidence in them? Even if they can win any seats at all, they will all end up becoming lonely cowboys!