30 June 2012

Annotated Game #52: It's all about the attitude

This first-round tournament game is from a weekend open tournament.  My opponent was the lowest-rated player I had ever faced, a fact which negatively impacted my play (not an unusual phenomenon).  He started the opening reasonably well as Black, but touched his king on move 6, with the touch-move violation losing him time and the right to castle.  This set the tone for the rest of the game, as the mistake clearly weighed on my opponent and at the same time gave me a psychological boost.

White's subsequent play, however, is an illustration of what not to do when given a substantial, yet not decisive advantage.  At the time I had little idea of how to conduct an attack, which is clearly illustrated by White playing premature, aggressive-looking moves rather than simply developing and consolidating his advantage.  White in fact allows Black to equalize on move 14 and if Black had played 15...Qb6 he could have taken over the initiative.  After this, White, albeit mostly by luck, manages to sort out his pieces and avoid a skewer tactic on the d1-h5 diagonal, while creating threats on the c-file against Black's back rank.  Black fumbles badly and then it's all over.

There are plenty of good examples in this game - from the winner's side - of what not to do on the chessboard, ranging from awkward piece placement to overlooking the opponent's threats to neglecting development.  However, there's also the useful lesson that a player's attitude has a lot to do with the final result on the board.  White had an (unreasonably) positive attitude throughout the game, while Black passed up chances to play actively and take the fight to White, which would have allowed him to recover from his earlier mistake.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class G"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A12"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "43"] {A12: English Opening: 1...c6 with b3 by White} 1. c4 c6 {playing this, Black needs to be ready to play the Slav (after 2. d4) or the Caro-Kann (after 2. e4) . White chooses an independent English line.} 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 d5 4. b3 Bf5 { so far Black is following a Slav-type setup.} 5. Ba3 $5 {Bg2 is the overwhelming choice here, but this has been played at the professional level. The idea is to cause Black difficulties in development, as he would lose the right to castle after the e-pawn moves and White exchanges on f8.} h6 {not much point to this.} (5... Nbd7 {has some top-level examples, for instance:} 6. Bg2 e5 7. Bxf8 Kxf8 8. Qc1 d4 9. O-O h6 10. d3 g5 11. Na3 Kg7 12. Nc2 Qc7 13. b4 c5 14. bxc5 Nxc5 15. Nb4 Rad8 16. Nd5 Nxd5 17. cxd5 Rhe8 18. Nd2 b5 19. a4 a6 20. axb5 {Narciso Dublan,M-Van Wely,L/Mondariz 2000/CBM 79/0-1 (44)}) 6. Bg2 Kd7 {this was played due to a touch-move fault.} (6... Qa5 7. Qc1 Na6 8. O-O Nb4 9. d3 e6 10. Bb2 Be7 11. a3 Na6 12. b4 Qd8 13. Nbd2 O-O 14. c5 Nc7 15. Nb3 Nd7 16. Re1 Bf6 17. Nfd4 Bg6 18. e4 e5 19. Nf3 Re8 20. Na5 Rb8 21. Qc2 { Sloth, J-Tompa,J/Dresden 1969/EXT 2001/1/2-1/2 (68)}) (6... Nbd7 {is preferred by Houdini, with similar play as in the move 5 variation.}) 7. O-O {I considered simple play best to take advantage of Black's king in the center. Now White can open things up without concern for his own king.} Ke8 8. d4 { aggressive but not best, as it leaves the hole on e4 for Black to use. Houdini suggests d3 and then calmly developing.} b5 {Black lashes out, but this just helps White open the position up.} (8... e6 {would be solid play.}) 9. cxb5 cxb5 10. Ne5 Nbd7 11. f4 {White clearly has little idea of how to conduct the attack and is simply playing aggressive-looking moves.} (11. Nc3 $5 {is preferred by the engines, getting another piece into play and attacking b5 and d5.} e6 12. Bxf8 Kxf8 13. Nxb5 $16) 11... e6 (11... Rc8 {equalizes immediately, according to Houdini. The rook dominates the open file and hinders White's development.} 12. Bb2 e6 13. Nc3 b4) 12. Bxf8 Kxf8 13. Nd2 {very awkward piece placement} Ng4 {this threatens the fork on e3, but White should simply exchange the knight off. Again, Rc8 here looks good.} 14. Rf3 $11 {White chooses not to exchange off the Ne5 voluntarily and awkwardly protects e3 instead.} (14. Nxg4 Bxg4 15. h3 Bf5 16. e4 dxe4 17. Nxe4 Bxe4 18. Bxe4 { would give White a better position, with the bishop much stronger than Black's knight.}) 14... Ngxe5 15. fxe5 Bg6 (15... Qb6 {hitting d4 would usefully activate the queen and cause White some problems.} 16. e3 {other ways of protecting d4 are even worse, such as Nf1.} Bg4 17. Rxf7+ Kxf7 18. Qxg4 $11) 16. Rc1 (16. Rf2 {is indicated, removing threats of a skewer on the d1-h5 diagonal.}) 16... Rc8 (16... Qb6 $5 {again would cause White difficulties.}) 17. Rfc3 {now White has reorganized his pieces in a comfortable way.} Rxc3 18. Rxc3 Bh5 (18... Kg8 $142 $5 $14 {and Black has air to breath, says Fritz. Now the king will be able to go to h7 and avoid back-rank tactics.}) 19. Qc1 { White spots the correct idea, threatening Rc8 and not worrying about the e2 pawn.} g6 $4 {the position was bad, and this mistake simply hastens the end, states Fritz.} (19... Nb6 $142 20. Qa3+ b4 21. Qxb4+ Kg8 $16) 20. Rc8 Qe8 21. Rxe8+ Kxe8 22. Qc8+ (22. Qc8+ Ke7 23. Qxh8 Bxe2 24. Qxh6 $18) 1-0

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