16 June 2012

Annotated Game #50: Rigid Thinking

This was the penultimate game in the tournament and a much-needed win.  The opening starts out in an unpromising way, as White attempts to avoid mainline Queen's Gambit Declined (QGD) positions but in the process offers Black a chance to seize a clear advantage as early as move 6.  Black rigidly sticks to his own opening scheme, however, and the danger point passes for White.  White opts for a slow, solid strategy designed to wait and take advantage of any Black mistakes.  This eventually pays off, as Black allows White to break through on the queenside without the compensation that could have been generated by Black's play on the kingside.

Some useful learning points come out of this game analysis:
  • Avoid rigid thinking in the opening.  Both White and Black had early opportunities to significantly improve their game.  On my part, a largely emotional desire to avoid pushing center pawns - because I preferred to think of the English is a "flank opening" - limited my options.  Black appeared to similarly follow his preferred opening structure without considering other opportunities.
  • Avoid premature resolution of central pawn tension (as occurred on move 10).  This is a typical amateur mistake.  The resulting position needs to be fully evaluated and most often piece development before any such pawn exchanges will obtain better results.
  • Look for options which keep pieces dynamic rather than limiting their capabilities (White's move 18)
  • Consider longer-term consequences for piece placement, including exposure to attack (Black's move 18)
  • Examine any possible tactics close to the king (the missed Nxf2 sacrifice, a possibility in several variations.)

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