<All eyes were on 14-year-old Garry Kasparov when he went into a big think, early in a Caro-Kann Defense, during his first Soviet Championship. It was obvious to his fellow players — and to virtually all of the many spectators — that he was calculating a knight sacrifice, for two pawns and a strong attack.
But 45 minutes later, Kasparov played a quiet move instead. After his game against Vladimir Bagirov ended in a draw at move 30, Mikhail Tal asked him why he didn’t play Nxe6.
“I saw it but I couldn’t calculate it all!” Kasparov exclaimed.
Tal smiled. “Garik, first you sacrifice,” he said softly. “And then you calculate.”
When he retold the story, Tal admitted he was half-joking. But his words underline a problem that you — and every other every improving player — face:
You don’t make the same mistake you made in your first tournaments — that is, you never play a move without considering the consequences. You don’t underthink. But there’s another pitfall. When you spend too much time on the consequences, you overthink.>