03 March 2012

Annotated Game #33: Stonewall Attack

This next tournament game serves up a mix of positional play and tactical play, along with a heaping portion of blunders on both sides.  The Stonewall Attack was completely unknown to me at the time (the computer classifies the opening as a transposition to a Caro-Kann Exchange variation, which is essentially true after move 5.)  However, I still equalize easily enough by move 10, when White misplaces his queen.

It's the middlegame where I go astray, but this in fact is related to my unfamiliarity with the opening and its resulting plans.  The Stonewall emphasizes using the knights to occupy key outposts at e5/e4, so challenging this idea is critical.  Black's 12...Nb6 is therefore a positional blunder and also demonstrates the classic amateur error of neglecting rook development with the alternative 12...Rac8 (a recurring theme from my tournament play during this period).  White plays the correct follow up, but then fails to take full advantage and misses a key pawn break on move 15, letting Black back into the game.

What follows from Black's point of view is a seesaw game where he is largely responding to White threats without much of an independent plan.  My tactical calculating ability at the time was also relatively undeveloped (shall we say), which meant that I missed a number of equalizing or winning opportunities, failing to think coolly under pressure.  Some days the bear gets you...

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