12 February 2014

Annotated Game #115: The Opaque Hedgehog

Of course there is no actual "opaque" variation of the Hedgehog - the reference is to the fact that the whole opening complex is rather murky and complicated for us Class players.  In the following game, although I have a general idea of the slow, maneuvering play required from the Hedgehog, as early as move 13 (or perhaps a little earlier) I have no real idea on how to usefully proceed.  While I don't make any obviously bad moves, I don't play very effectively as White and allow my opponent to get a very solid position with some potential threats on the queenside.  This is in fact a standard characteristic of the Hedgehog, in which Black intentionally adopts a solid, non-aggressive formation limited to the first three ranks, then slowly pushes White back while developing counterplay.

After a fair amount of maneuvering on both sides and reaching a drawish position following a queen exchange, my opponent decides to keep pressing, which was not in my view objectively warranted.  Key strategic mistakes on moves 26 and 27 left the center open for my knights, which handed me the initiative and eventually the game after I spotted the deflection tactic on move 41.  Although Black put up strong resistance afterwards, I found the correct endgame ideas and the outcome was never in doubt.

This was a blunder-free game on my part, although some of my ideas were certainly sub-optimal, and there are some positive signs for the evolution of my playing skills in terms of tactics and endgame technique.  Knowing that I would not have been able to play this way several years ago, or at least not find the correct ideas nearly as easily, is a good indicator of how my chess studies are bearing fruit.

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