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Here is a recent game of mine against a much stronger opponent. Time limit was 90min+30'. I am offering some thoughts of mine in the annotation.
In my late games I feel like I give up to my opponents all initiative and I am really fearing/not able to make attacks of my own.
I would appreciate any comments on that game and any suggestions for further improvement.
1. The a3 move might not be as strong for white as Nc32. Instead of the first queen move, I would have developed the bishop on the white square.3. cxd51. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. a3 Be7 5. Nc3 O-O 6. e3 b6 7. Bd3 Bb7 8. O-O Nbd7 9. cxd5
I don't think black would want to keep the knights out of play as in the original game.
This following game seems like a more interesting fight.
I prefer 11...g6. It forces white to move their bishop twice and opens up the back file, which is important (usually) to do at some point to protect the king. It also lets you avoid moves like 12...Nf8 (I also prefer 12...g6, surprise, surprise). If you want to advance your b-pawn (why?) then 19...a6 is the way to do so. 22...Bxd4 is the proper response given earlier weird choices by both sides. Your only other real option is 22...Qb6 23. Nxc6 Qxc6 which leads to you losing both of your bishops and your isolated pawn.
In addition to what has been said, 14...Bc8 is not a great move, but 15..Bb7 ? is inconsistant. Better 15...Bxf5.
22...Bxd4 is probably worse than 22...Be7, but not by far. However, the problem with that move is not the bishop pair but the fact that the e2 bishop, originally locked, is now free, which is the single most important consideration here. The advantage is closing the file against the weak d pawn, plus trading away a central knight.
23...Qb6 is better, though Black probably stands worse.
25...b4 ????? is a terrible move. Even if you manage to "scare the knight away", that knight was not doing much and you weaken your pawns, notwithstanding that it is a tactical mistake due to the hanging Bc6.
22...Be7 is a horrific move. 23. Nxc6 for a free bishop and a ton of pressure on black's queen.
You indeed played some inexplicably blunders but overall you played better than your rating shows. Your opponent wasn't much stronger than you. You were doing ok until blundering your bishop. On the other hand, your positional understanding isn't great. Bxd4 for example is bad because you surrender your bishop pair without a clear reason.
I don't understand why 25...b4 is bad in this game. Is this something a higher rated player has figured will add difficulty to an endgame but has no bearing on the position of the pieces before 26 is played?
The person who said 25...b4 was ????? also said 22...Be7 is better than 22...Bxd4, so I'd take it with a grain of salt. 25...Qb6 is probably better, as it applies pressure to white's d pawn as well as providing the strength needed to back up a move like 26 Qd2 b4. Following 27. axb4 axb4, black's rook now controls the open file, white's queen is off the e file, and white's knight (which is in fact causing problems) is forced to retreat. So don't feel bad for not understanding why 25...b4 was criticized so harshly. It could have been better, but was not particularly bad and certainly the right sort of play - it just needed the queen to back it up to be ideal. (I actually would have probably played 25...Qb6 and 26...b4 almost regardless of white's move on 26. Of the plays white can make on 26, Ne2, Qd2, Qe2, Qe3, Qe7, Be3 - all would probably be met with 26...b4. 26. Be3 might be met with ...Re8, and obviously 26. Be5 would mean I move my knight.
Of course, this was a typo... ...Bd7 is the move I meant to mention.
As for 25...b4, of course it's not a game-losing blunder, but it's a move without a plan, and it weakens.
25 is clearly a move with a plan that could have been better but isn't significantly game-weakening, as analyzed above. White's knight is a threat, the move advances a pawn and forces white's retreat, and claims the open file for black's rook. And "?????" and "terrible move" is not the sme as 'a move without a plan'.
22...Bd7 is seriously worse than 22...Bxd4, or was that a typo too? 23. Ncxb5 Bxf5 24. Nxf5 Ne6 25. b4 Bf8 and it turns out you wasted two turns (22 & 25) to lose a pawn and any meaningful control of the center.
22...Bxd4 isolates white's pawn which black can attack with 23...Qb6 and then 24 either white gives up the open file with Rxe8 or retreats to defend with Ne2.
As well as tactical mistakes pointed out, try to avoid "oscillating", i.e whatever reason for 14...Bc8 follow through with it. After 15...Bb7 you spent two moves doing nothing.
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