06 April 2013

Annotated Game #89: Counting a Loss

The outcome of this third-round tournament game was decided by a counting error - luckily made this time by my opponent, not myself.  Ironically his miscalculation on move 16 came immediately after I handed him two possible combinations, one involving a use of his rook versus my queen on the c-file, the other being a thematic bishop sacrifice on g2.  The counting error involved captures on multiple squares, so it's easy to understand how my opponent went astray.  This Dan Heisman article at ChessCafe describes the problem of counting errors in detail.

Analysis of the opening and endgame phases of the game also offer up some instructive points.  I failed to take advantage of Black's incorrect handling of a Nimzo-Indian setup (the bishop retreat 5...Be7), instead parroting the original moves for the Nimzo-English contained in my opening repertoire.  This was done out of ignorance, since at the time I had no idea about what strategies are involved with the Nimzo-Indian setup.  In this case, the fight for e4 (a key Nimzo theme) is immediately won by White after Black retreats, something which I should have punished by 6. e4 or 6. d4.

The endgame is completely won for White, but I still had to win it.  Black played until the bitter end, attempting to use his two connected passed pawns on the queenside as compensation for the material.  However, White's rook is dominant (and could have been used to even greater effect on move 21), while Black's pieces cannot effectively support the pawns.  White finishes Black off in an effective manner after finding a clear way to win, the key being to calculate variations giving him safe, obvious winning advantages rather than searching for the most rapid kill.

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