28 October 2011

Annotated Game #16: Comeback (round 2)

This game followed Annotated Game #14 in my "comeback" tournament and was played against Expert-level opposition.  The game is rather simple in structure and easy to understand, which makes for some clear analytic lessons as a result.

Black quickly equalizes out of the opening, a Colle System with 3..c5.  Although I'm not an expert in facing the Colle setup (d4-Nf3-e3) I've never had any problems with it from the Black side as long as the light-square bishop isn't locked in prematurely with 3..e6.  I realize the Colle is popular with a number of players, but unless Black plays an early e6, which seems to lead to a sustained slight advantage for White, I'm not sure what White can expect to get out of it.

Key points from the game:
  • A consistent weakness shown by my older tournament games is the failure to understand the positional consequences of piece exchanges, as occurs on move 10 here.  My positional knowledge has improved so that such exchanges are no longer automatic, as seemed to be the case here.
  • Black picks the correct strategy (queenside play down the c-file along with pressure against d4), but gets too cutesy with a queen exchange on b3, which would have allowed White to trap Black's Na5.  The simple, clear follow-up of exchanging on c4 would have given Black a fine game.
  • White goes astray on move 18, missing a key intermediate capture which saves Black's knight and allows Black to perfectly execute his strategy and gain major pressure with his rooks.
  • After a defensive inaccuracy by White, Black could have put away the game on move 25, but instead failed to calculate that doubling rooks on the second rank would not in fact lead to a decisive advantage.
  • Black manages to find a needlessly complicated way to achieve a losing position, then fails to put up as much resistance as possible by deciding to exchange down to a more obviously lost endgame.
Despite the loss, the game at the time reinforced the idea that there was no need to fear higher-rated opposition and served as a useful psychological stepping-stone to the last game in that tournament, which will be annotated in the future.


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