21 September 2017

Annotated Game #179: An IQP lesson

This game is almost completely characterized by my strategic struggle against Black's isolated queen pawn (IQP), a normal result of the Tarrasch Defense.  The notes speak for themselves, with the key (wrong) choice made by me on move 24, thanks to a deflection tactic that makes my chosen sequence of moves lead to a very drawish position, rather than maintaining my positional advantage.  I could also have done a bit more with my knights, but that was the key strategic error and another (IQP) lesson learned.

ChessAdmin - Class C

Result: 1/2-1/2

D34: Tarrasch Defence: 6 g3 Nf6 7 Bg2 Be7
[...] 1.c4 c5 2.¤f3 ¤f6 3.¤c3 e6 breaking the symmetry 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 I felt it made the most sense to exchange in the center at this point. It's the overwhelming choice in the database. 5...exd5 (5...¤xd5 would be the Semi-Tarrasch defense.) 6.d4 transposing to the Tarrasch Defense, which again makes the most sense here. If Black is allowed to play d5-d4 then his central pawn presence becomes very strong. The text move will eventually allow me strategic play against an isolated queen pawn. 6...¤c6 7.¥g2 ¥e6 8.O-O ¥e7 9.a3 played as prophylaxis against ...Nb4. The immediate capture on c5 is much more popular. 9...O-O
9...c4!? is the reason why White typically takes on this move, rather than the next one.
10.dxc5 ¥xc5 11.b4 helping develop my bishop with tempo. 11...¥e7 12.¥b2² White now has a very comfortable game. The basic strategy in an IQP position is to work against the pawn, including by dominating the square in front of it, and trade down minor pieces to make the defender's job tougher. Black is not really in a position to take advantage of the more dynamic qualities of the central pawn, so I have a small advantage. 12...£d7 13.¦c1 getting the rook in play 13...¦ac8 14.e3 dominating the d4 square. 14...¦fd8 15.¤e2 not a pretty-looking move, but strategically consistent (and validated by the engine). The battle revolves around the d4 square. 15...a6 16.¤e5 with the simple idea of exchanging pieces. Black otherwise has to retreat the queen to a less favorable square and leave my knight on a nice central square.
16.¤f4 was played in the one database game, with good results for White. 16...¥f5 17.£b3 ¥e4 18.¦fd1 £d6 19.¤d3 ¤g4 20.h3 ¥xf3 21.¥xf3 ¤xe3 22.fxe3 £xg3+ 23.¥g2 £xe3+ 24.¢h1 ¥d6 25.£c2 £g3 26.¢g1 ¦e8 27.£f2 £h2+ 28.¢f1 ¦e6 29.¥xd5 £xh3+ 30.£g2 £f5+ 31.£f3 £xf3+ 32.¥xf3 ¥g3 33.¤c5 ¦e3 34.¢g2 ¥f4 35.¤xb7 ¦xf3 36.¢xf3 ¥xc1 37.¦xc1 f5 38.¢f4 ¤e7 39.¦xc8+ ¤xc8 40.¢xf5 ¤b6 41.¥c3 ¢f7 42.¤c5 g6+ 43.¢e4 h5 44.¤xa6 h4 45.¥d4 ¤c4 46.a4 ¢e6 47.¤c5+ ¢d6 48.¤b3 g5 49.¢f3 h3 50.¢g3 g4 51.b5 ¢c7 52.a5 ¢b8 53.a6 ¢a8 54.b6 ¢b8 55.¤c1 ¢a8 56.¤d3 ¢b8 57.¥e5+ 1-0 (57) Martinovic,S (2400)-Gara,A (2337) Split 2007
16...¤xe5 17.¥xe5 ¦xc1 I'm happy with the additional piece exchange. 18.£xc1 ¦c8 while it's good for Black to occupy the c-file, that also forces my queen to a better square. 19.£b2 creating a nice Q+B battery on the long diagonal. 19...£b5 this repositions the queen a little further away from the fight, although it's not necessarily obvious how White can take advantage of this fact. (19...¥h3 20.¥xh3 £xh3 21.¤f4²) 20.¤c3 not a bad move, but not optimal.
20.¤f4 is a recurring theme, with the knight on a more influential square.
20...£c4 this maneuver to me just seemed to expose the queen to attack and made the next couple moves easy to find. 21.¦c1 £c6 Black has spent a lot of time on queen moves, while I've been able to improve my position.
21...£d3 would at least be consistent with the idea of trying to penetrate my position with the queen. 22.¥d4²
22.¤e2 £d7 23.¤d4 an example of lazy strategic thinking. The d4 square is already thoroughly dominated, so I don't have to actually occupy it. (23.¦xc8+ £xc8 24.¤f4²) 23...¤g4 (23...¦xc1+ 24.£xc1 ¤e4 25.f3) 24.¤xe6 this is an example of bad sequencing of moves.
24.¦xc8+!?24...£xc8 and now 25.¤xe6 £xe6 (25...fxe6?26.¥xg7+⁠−) 26.¥d4± with the two bishops on White's side and the isolated pawn on Black's, along with the pressure along the a1-h8 diagonal, White is significantly better here.
24...¦xc1+ now Black avoids the problems of the above variation by deflecting the queen. 25.£xc1 fxe6 White has the pair of bishops now, but the d5 pawn is no longer isolated and my Bg2 is relatively constrained. My slight edge is not going to be enough to make progress. (25...¤xe5?!26.¤f4±) 26.¥b2 ¥f6 27.¥xf6 ¤xf6 28.£c5 ¢f7 29.¥f1 ¤e4 30.£c2 ¤f6 31.¥d3²31...g6 32.¢g2 e5 33.e4 this brings things closer to a draw.
33.£c5² is the engine's recommendation, but there's still not much progress to be made.
33...dxe4 34.¥xe4 ¤xe4 35.£xe4 £e7
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02 September 2017

Annotated Game #178: Patience is a virtue...which I lack

Analysis of this next tournament game, along with the previous ones, helps highlight one recurring flaw in my play: lack of patience.  This is a common fault in Class players, often reflected in the idea that each single move has to "do something" big.  Here, as in Annotated Game #176, when there is no obvious immediate breakthrough, I get frustrated and acquiesce to a draw.  Fixing this conceptual flaw in my play should bring better results over time.

The game itself contains some interesting ideas (not just psychological ones), including alternatives for Black on move 9 and move 12.  As part of the analysis process, it's very useful to see how modern engines (Komodo 10 in this case) help evaluate plans, not just individual moves; for example, it consistently highlighted the value of the b8-h2 diagonal and building up pressure on it through the variations on moves 12 and 15.  I also like the idea of the knight retreat on move 19, getting out of the way of the pawns and playing a more maneuvering type of game.  Finally, it was worth looking at the different options towards the end of the game, for both dynamic and maneuvering play, to continue working my positional advantage.

Class C - ChessAdmin

Result: 1/2-1/2

[...] 1.d4 d5 2.e3 usually an indicator that White is heading for a Stonewall formation. 2...¤f6 3.¥d3 c5 4.c3 ¤c6 5.f4 ¥g4 getting the bishop to an active square before playing ...e6 6.¤f3 e6 7.¤bd2 ¥e7 8.O-O O-O 9.£e1 cxd4 Normally it's a good idea to exchange c-pawn for d-pawn, and it isn't bad here. But there may be a more effective path forward for Black.
9...¥f5 is a more sophisticated positional idea, which is both the database and engine favorite. After 10.¥xf5 exf5 Black has a lock on e4 and White's e3 pawn will be weak on the half-open file.
10.exd4 ¦c8 11.¤e5 ¥f5 I'll give myself credit for recognizing this idea, even if a bit later than optimal. 12.£e2 a6 this was perhaps a waste of time. My idea was to play follow up with .. .b5 and prevent White from advancing the c-pawn to exchange off my d5 pawn. However, this is not a real threat as long as the Nc6 is there (due to the d4 pawn then being unprotected). If White exchanges on c6, then a subsequent pawn swap on d5 would just leave d4 isolated and weak.
12...£c7!? would develop the queen and connect the rooks. It also starts to build pressure up on the b8-h2 diagonal.
13.£f3 b5 sticking with the original idea. 14.a3?! done to prevent b5-b4, but this is too weakening. 14...¤a5³ now having a pawn on b5 is actually helpful, thanks to my opponent making holes on the queenside. 15.¦e1 ¦e8 not really necessary. Komodo still favors the plan of building pressure on the b8-h2 diagonal with ...Bd6 and ...Qc7. 16.g4 ¥xd3 17.¤xd3 ¤c4 18.¤xc4 bxc4 now I enjoy a significant space advantage in the center and on the queenside. 19.¤f2 g6
19...¤d7!? would activate the Be7 and give White fewer kingside targets for the pawns.
20.£h3 (20.f5 exf5 21.gxf5 ¦b8³) 20...¥f8 rather too cautious.
20...¦b8 with the idea of pressuring the b-pawn and forcing White to tie down a piece to its protection.
21.¥d2?! White will just have to move this back next move. 21...¦b8ยต22.¥c1 £b6 here either more patience was called for in a largely closed position, or some more dynamic play. (22...h5!? is the dynamic option. 23.gxh5 ¤xh5³)
22...¦e7 is a more slow maneuvering approach, clearing the e8 square for the knight to go to d6 and perhaps to double rooks on the b-file.
23.£g3 ¥d6 24.£f3 at this point I saw no obvious breakthroughs for Black, so took the draw. Basically a lack of energy and patience was the reason, along with not really understanding the needs of the position. These include the importance of the b8-h2 diagonal and activating the bishop, the possible ...h5 advance, better and earlier development of the queen and rooks, etc.
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