29 September 2012

Annotated Game #65: Mercy Killing in the English Four Knights

This next tournament game sees White achieve an excellent position in the English Four Knights, as Black is too optimistic about his prospects of obtaining a good reversed Sicilian Defense position.  Black's deviation from the database with 11...Qf6 is not properly evaluated by White, however, who misses the latent threat to his Ra1 on the long diagonal.  White tries to be aggressive with 12. e4? and simply loses a pawn, also handing the initiative to Black.  White suffers thereafter and misses another simple threat, this time down the e-file, which costs another pawn.  A couple of interesting tactical resources were overlooked that would have allowed White to regain a pawn and fight on.  However, with a crushing endgame from Black looming, White misses an unusual bishop skewer on the first rank and is put away quickly - a mercy killing, one could say.

What causes lapses like 12. e4?  I was playing on autopilot through the opening and failed to start thinking properly - or really at all - following Black's 11th move.  As part of my (new) thinking process, the question should immediately have been asked what changed about the position, which (one hopes) would have led to identifying the new threat down the long diagonal.  Again, it was the transition from opening to middlegame phase that tripped me up, which was all too typical of my play during this period - and is still something that needs to be worked on.

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