30 July 2011

Annotated Game #3: Attack of the Clones

This tournament game from 2007 is against a Class B player (who however was significantly higher rated than myself).  The remarkable thing about it (and why I selected it for study) is that it is an almost exact clone of the previous tournament game we had played against each other.  It was relatively easy for me to remember the original sequence, since I'd never seen anyone else play a Stonewall-Leningrad Dutch hybrid before.  My database has exactly one game that matches the position after the 6th move, from the 1959 Czechoslovak championship (Adamek-Paroulek).

The first pass at analysis was done by Fritz 10 shortly after the tournament; in the past, I've made it a practice of performing computer analysis on my games shortly after they are completed.  I've found this to be good for seeing blunders and some missed alternative moves, but it hasn't done all that much in terms of improving my chess understanding and playing ability.  This time around, I provide the human perspective and Houdini the computer one, with better results.

What had bothered me about this game was that Fritz had given an original evaluation of White as noticeably better at the end, so as part of my training process I wanted to take a serious look at the concluding position to see what I had missed.  As it turns out, I didn't miss anything there, an assessment backed up by Houdini.  My guess is that Fritz's evaluation function had liked the additional space White possessed, but failed to see that it was essentially meaningless in the context of the coming endgame.

Nevertheless, after examining the game more closely, I did find a number of earlier possible improvements for White.  While I may not run across this exact opening variation again (unless I play the same opponent once more as White), I should be able to retain some of the ideas for improved play in similar situations - for example, noting how an earlier d3 is more flexible than b3 for white and how to exploit the d6 hole in the Stonewall Dutch.

At the time, I was satisfied with the result of obtaining a draw against a higher-rated player.  In general and in a tournament context, that's not really a bad thing.  However, the path to chess mastery does not consist of ceding whatever advantages you have over the board so you can draw, it requires being able to exploit them so you can win.

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