21 July 2012

Annotated Game #55: Slice and Dice

This last-round game in the weekend Swiss open tournament shows how White takes advantage of passive play and effectively uses his two bishops in the end to slice and dice like knives through Black's position.  As Black, I deliberately selected a slightly inferior variation in the Two Knights variation of the Caro-Kann - done in order to save having to memorize the variation's main line - but quickly go wrong with it in the early middlegame.  This is a typical error of mine (and for many amateurs), related to lack of depth in opening study.  The failure to understand the important elements of the early middlegame that result from a particular opening line is, time and again, the root cause of a lost game.

In this case, the apparently subtle defensive move 12...Re8 was called for, which would have neutralized White's future threats along the evil e-file, although this does not become apparent for several moves.  This is also a reflection of the common general amateur error of not developing rooks early enough in the middlegame.  My opponent, an Expert, avoids this problem and the note to move 20 points out how effective his one developed rook is, combining with his other pieces to make threats while my rooks merely sit on the sidelines.

In terms of positional themes, the other dominant one is of course the two bishops.  In the opening, Black deliberately gives White this advantage, along with a small advantage in development, in compensation having easy development for himself and no structural weaknesses.  However, White's edge out of the opening is real and Black needed to concentrate harder on identifying and carefully neutralizing White's play.  Black instead focused on the more crude plan of simply exchanging down wherever possible, which worked up to a point but ignored White's positional threats.  The domination of the two bishops at the end of this game is an object lesson in why they are considered an advantage.

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