22 March 2014

Annotated Game #119: A slashing victory in the English

This fourth-round tournament game was played against an obviously aggressive opponent.  As early as his second move (2...f5) it was clear that he would be looking for a kingside attack as soon as possible.  Although I was more cautious and solid, my focus on play in the center and on development gave me a good game without allowing my opponent any significant threats; he did miss the idea of playing ...Ne4 at some point, however, which would have given him better play.

The position around move 14 illustrates the importance of positional factors and ease of play, especially at the Class level.  White does not have a significant advantage, but the advantages he does have (the two bishops, open diagonals, more queenside space) make the game much easier to play.  All it takes for Black to lose is one bad idea - the slow transfer of his queen to the kingside - and White is able to shift to tactical play, taking advantage of Black's light-square weaknesses to slash open the position.  Black in response stakes everything on an unprepared kingside attack, which fizzles when I carefully calculate to a safe (and winning) position.

While my opening play here was not necessarily optimal, it got me to a comfortable middlegame position with latent threats and easy play.  After that, it was simply a matter of recognizing opportunities in the position and keeping mentally focused.  Overall, this was a good example of how your positional advantages can be turned into concrete ones, after your opponent ignores them and simply tries to execute his own plan.

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