First Time Out with the Catalan
Earlier this evening I used the Catalan Opening for the first time in tournament play--the DHLC Slow Swiss #9, Round 5--and I lost. For those familiar with my previous blogs, a loss for me should sound familiar.
There are, however, three lessons that I hope I will learn from this match: (1) Take the time to analyze white's and black's positions throughout the game. I should look at all my pieces, as well as my opponent's, and think about all the options each piece has at least one to two moves ahead. DHLC tournament matches are timed 45/45, and I should take advantage of this! I noticed that when the game was done, I had about 40 minutes still left on my clock! Proof to my self that that I am not taking adequate time analyzing positions and options. (2) Stay focused on my plan and stick to it; do not abandon it unless absolutely necessary. At the beginning of the match I planned on attacking Queenside, very quickly, a few moves into the match, I decided to attack the center, then a few moves later I decided to attack Queenside again. The result of this fickle approach was that my pieces were scattered all over the board, and I needed to make extra moves to make the attempt to get them at the right side of the board. (3) I must ingrain it in my head that pieces can move backwards, and thus they can attack backwards. Although I know this, somehow I seem to forget it when I am playing. See the blunder on move 20 below--a stupid move.
Despite the loss, I find the Catalan a fun open to play because of the open game it can produce, so I definitely will do some reading and play this open again. Below are my annotations of the match, and four additional diagrams with variations for what I could, or should, have played.
Move 13 Variation for Qe3:
Move 18 Variation for Qxc4:
Move 18 Variation for Bxd5 (black has definite advantage with this variation):
Move 23 Variation for Qe3: