14 June 2014

Annotated Game #127: Turning Point

This fourth-round tournament game turned out to be the turning point for me.  Normally this would mean that I triumphed in a hard-fought game, but in this case I lost in a long, hard-fought game.  For most of it, however, I had done an excellent job of following my thinking process, evaluating positions, and combining strategy and tactics.  It is always gratifying when reviewing a game with an engine to see it agree with a large number of your moves, which was indicative of the overall quality of the game.  My opponent also played well and made a good psychological decision in the final phase of the game to not accept a draw and instead try to unbalance things, although he was slightly worse as a result.  If he had not done that, he could not have won in the end.  Perhaps he perceived my relative tiredness, lack of patience and desire for a draw, something which precluded me from finding some potentially advantageous continuations.

Other lessons taken away from the game analysis include:
  • The benefits of the opening maneuver with h7-h6 to clear a safety square for the Bf5, something recently highlighted in the cross-training openings post; this would have been a good option early on for Black, after White chose not to immediately pressure the bishop.
  • How "caveman" style strategies, as White adopted in the early middlegame by pushing the f and g-pawns, can be met.
  • How one should look to undermine advanced pawns, for example the variations on moves 33 and 35.
Despite the loss in this game, I ended up winning my remaining tournament games and finishing in the money for the first time in a number of years.  In contrast, my opponent did not do so well and ended up below me in the final rankings.  Although naturally I would have preferred not to lose, the overall high quality of play carried through into the next rounds and I was able to regain my mental toughness, as we shall see in the next series of annotations.

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