Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

| 37 | Middlegame

Hello everyone - this is my first article for, and in my weekly column, I'm going to focus on my own games, trying to explain my thoughts for your benefit. Feel free to leave questions and comments. If there's something you'd like to see me discuss, and I have a game or two of my own that deal with the issue, I'll try and oblige. For this article, I'm going to discuss a couple of games that I played since receiving the Samford Fellowship in July 2008.

The first game comes from a tournament in Spain just after receiving the Fellowship. I had the white pieces against FM Yvain Bruned (2383 FIDE, about equivalent to 2430 USCF). After looking at this game and the second, the title of this article will hopefully make some sense.

In the normal course of a number of openings (such as the Nimzo-Indian), one of the players get the advantage of the two bishops without the central situation being resolved. In that case, where should the player with the bishop-pair place his center pawns?

The simple rule of thumb is to place the pawns on the same color of the opponent's remaining bishop. The rationale is that you want to play where you have the advantage, and by putting your pawns on the same color as your opponent's lone bishop, you are cutting down on its scope, while increasing the scope of your unopposed bishop. Thus, you have one extra piece fighting for critical squares in the position.

(By the way, this game is best viewed with the move list open, so as to see some of the variations, not just the text comments.)

Playing through the above game diagram, we've reached the position after 11.e3-e4 Nd5-b6. What should White do next? Should he play 12.e4-e5?

In the following game, I had the white pieces against Joydeep Dutta (2300 FIDE, about equivalent to 2350 USCF). This is from the last round of a tournament in January 2009 in India. In contrast to the above example, the opening here was a Slav Defense, but I gained the bishop pair after about a dozen moves and had to answer the same question again: where should I put my central pawns?

White's just taken the bishop pair with 13.Na2xb4 a5xb4. What should he do next? Should he develop his bishop on c1 with 14.Bc1-f4? Or should he gain more central space with 14.e4-e5?

In both games that we looked at this week, I made the same mistake of “killing” my unopposed bishop by taking away the very diagonals weakened by my opponent’s lack of the bishop pair. With a little bit of luck, I managed to save both games and escape with a draw, but stronger opponents may have made me suffer a lot more before getting that result.

By the way, lest anyone think that my game against Bruned was the first time I made this mistake, I’m sure I’ve done that same thing at least a dozen times before. Chances are I will make the same mistake again before it’s all said and done. At least for me, I’m liable to make the same mistake a couple times and get burned before I learn. Hopefully these couple examples will help you in your own games when you face a similar problem.

Thanks and tune in next week, for the next installment in the Life and Times of Vinay …

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