22 September 2013

Annotated Game #105: The Caro-Kann - a dull, positional opening (?)

This final-round Slow Chess League tournament game featured an imbalanced Caro-Kann, where Black staked everything on an audacious kingside attack after the dubious decision to sacrifice two pawns coming out of the opening.  Essentially I overreacted to White's 10. Qb3, an excellent move which nonetheless could have been neutralized with a little more thought.  However, it being a Friday night after a long week of work and a glass or so of wine, I had something of a devil-may-care attitude and felt like playing actively, rather than defending a potentially worse position with objectively best moves.

White, perhaps seeking to consolidate his advantage rather than press it, soon afterwards missed the powerful 16. Ng5! which while not winning immediately would give him an overwhelming advantage.  I was then able to continue with my attacking plans, although missing the much stronger 21...Bxh2+ continuation.  (Thanks to nate23 for raising this in the post-game analysis chat.)  White's king is eventually chased across the board and material loss ensues.

Black's ability to fight for the initiative and then put together a winning attack helps illustrate the practical power of active, aggressive play.  I constantly searched for threats to make against my opponent and for ways to improve my piece positions for attacking purposes, which increased the pressure on White.  Annotated Game #104 saw a broadly similar game trajectory, in which I was able to pull out a victory after being under pressure and down material.  While the point of post-game analysis is to help avoid putting oneself in that kind of a hole during future games, it's also worthwhile to understand on a broader level what kind of play can be most effective in terms of results.  I'll share some related thoughts on chess performance vs. chess skills in a subsequent post.


1 comment:

  1. I just started reading your blog this morning. It is great. I think we are in very similar places as far as looking to improve. I noticed in this game on move 8.....Be7 a developing move. This can't be bad and Bb4 is implying you are willing to exchange the bishop for knight giving up the bishop pair. I never would do that either without compensation. I've been reading the Jerry Silman books on imbalances and it appears there is an imbalance here in pawn structure. Not to be mistaken for a weakness according the Silman, just a difference to design a plan around. The state of the pawn structure shows and isolated d-pawn for white and to work against it Silman suggests black should first control the square in front of it, the d5 square. Then exchange some minor pieces and leave at least the queen and a rook to win it. White needs to keep the minor pieces on the board so their dynamic potential (increased potential activity due to the open/half open files around it) can compensate for the potential weakness of the isolated pawn. White needs to do something with the activity or be able to support the pawn push.

    I am a hopefully improving intermediate player and this is only my interpretation of the Silman lesson. To the diagram after 8. Be2 from white. Right now, it's black to move and the knight on b8 or the bishop on f8 should be developed. To go with the black plan of controlling d5, the f8 bishop (dark squared bishop) can not directly influence that square, but it can take away a white piece that can, the c3 Knight. That's why I like Bb4, not just because it develops a piece, but it could be useful in the overall plan against the isolani.

    Now we have to look at what will happen if the question is put to the bishop either with 9. 0-0 or 9. a3. Say white responds to 8...Bb4 with 9. 0-0. 9....Bxc3, 10. bxc3. This ruins the plan on the isolated pawn, but there's more. Now white has a backward c-pawn and an isolated a-pawn.

    Silman suggests control the square in front of a backward pawn as well. As long as c3-c4 can be prevented and c4 can be controlled by black, the backward c-pawn should give black winning chances in the endgame. If it can advance safely, black gains nothing and gives white the bishop pair.

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