29 June 2013

Annotated Game #96: A Return to Chess

This next game marked another "return to chess" after a several-year gap following Annotated Game #94.  I had moved again for my job and did little in the way of chess study or play at my new location.  Before playing in this tournament, I spent several weeks getting back into the game and reviewing my openings, primarily, in order to prepare.  At the start of the tournament, I was pleased to be paired up in the first round against a strong Expert, since I felt no real pressure to perform and could just concentrate on the game.

Several points came out of this game analysis:
  • Unusual openings are unusual for a reason.  Simple, principled and powerful play would have given White an earlier edge.
  • My repeated neglect of development issues led to losing the initiative by move 15, even with Black's rather passive opening play.
  • I correctly identified the game's major turning point and critical move (22), but flubbed the calculations in a complex position.  At critical points like that, a player needs to take as much time as needed to calculate clearly and understand the ideas of the position (which I did not)
  • While defending, always look to get back in the game and take advantage of any errors by the attacker.  This is often difficult to do because of psychological factors, for example when Black erred on move 26.  I still felt the same amount of pressure, though, which contributed to a failure to objectively evaluate the situation.
  • Materialism is bad, even when defending.  Jettisoning a pawn in exchange for dynamic compensation or long-term positional benefit would have allowed me to equalize after Black's error.
  • Computer analysis must always be viewed critically.  The original Fritz 12 analysis showed exaggerated evaluations of a White advantage at several points in the first part of the game, where Houdini showed either a small advantage or equality, which seems more reasonable to me.
Not a terrible effort for being out of tournament practice for several years and the game itself is instructive, both for the errors and how Black tactically exploits White's positional weaknesses in the final phase of the game, even after White had managed to temporarily keep material equality and get the queens off the board.

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