22 September 2012

Annotated Game #64: What was that opening, again?

This game is a seesaw battle in an English-QGD (Queen's Gambit Declined) setup that illustrates nicely how neither side knew the correct way to handle the position out of the opening.  This was in fact the fourth time I had faced the variation in my tournament career - see Annotated Game #50 for an earlier example -  and I had a general notion of how I wanted to play the opening (which was in fact successful).  The problem was that I still had no real idea of how to approach the resulting middlegame.  This is a typical result of amateur-level opening preparation, which fails to answer the question, "what next?" after the repertoire lines are completed.  Under these circumstances, it's as if you're seeing the opening for the first time - again and again.

Getting back to the game, White selects a positional treatment of the opening with an early b3 that aims for quietly exploiting some small advantages in development and exploitation of the c-file.  However, I rather blindly decide to pursue the b4-b5 push, which makes less sense here.  Black plays very solidly, albeit overly defensively, and then sees an opportunity to make a push in the center starting on move 16.  However, the result of this, following some "obvious" (but not obligatory) exchanges, is a vastly improved scenario for the White pieces by move 22.  Black makes a huge error on the following move by not exchanging White's advanced knight, which then leaps into an outstanding outpost and sets off an attack that plays itself.

Unfortunately for me, once the moves are no longer completely obvious, I fail to find the key attacking themes (including a threatened mate on g7) which would have resulted in a won game.  Instead, exchanges are made and the position is reduced to equality.  As happens so often, this negative change in trend continues with a rapid downhill slide by White, who fails to see a mate threat, then it's all over.

Analyzing this game was useful, as it pointed up the fact that I still need to work on handling QGD structures, which my database tells me occur more often than I think; I simply haven't studied and prepared against them enough.  The missed tactical opportunities are something that I hope I would be able to spot now, having had a great deal more training in that area.  In any case, the potential tactics against the king position and against the Be5 were well worth reviewing, for future application.


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