Targeting a square
They say that there is a first for everything. Who are 'they' you ask? I don't know, but they say it anyway. In this case, the more interesting word is 'everything', which indicates the abstract (?) concept of playing to control a square. I have not really recognized this as a possibility before, but in the game below, it became a theme - at least for a while.
In the game, I was facing my nemesis - the infamous MN. In several games, I have had an advantage, but have never been able to cash in. I feel that I should be able to get the better of him - sometime.
Our first crossroads came after move 4. White has played an early Bg5, and I did not recognize the position. Had white made a mistake this early?
After evaluating the position, I could not find any refutation, and played on and tried to steer the game into a theoretical (?) line. We played on for a few more moves before venturing into unknown waters. The next crossroads is the position below.
Giving up the center is probably not the right idea, but that was my choice. But a move later, I realized that the b4 square was quite weak. Doesn't Jeremy Silman discuss the concept of targeting squares in his books? Sure he does. All the time! I figured I would give it a go.
Although I managed to position my knight on b4, it was soon chased off. But in the meantime, I had time to develop my pieces. That is at least something. And then white decided to give up his bishop for my knight. Ok, now we have a bishop vs knight situation. Also, his pieces are a bit uncoordinated. This can't be bad!
The white king is nearly trapped, but there is no apparent knockout. With just one more tempo, black could seal the deal. For instance, with the king on h7, g7-g6-g5 would win the queen. But I could not find any way to gain a tempo. Instead I gave up a pawn. Not as good.
Instead of protecting the passed pawn, I decided to go after the loose pawns on the kingside. Another poor decision. Not losing, but not winning either. White gained back the pawns and got a passed pawn of his own. The tables are turned, and the pawn race is on.
With a new queen on the scene, white has definitely found counterplay. But the f-pawn is far advanced and a dangerous element. White has to be careful, and black has to try to get the king safe and push one of the pawns.
White left the f-pawn and went for a king hunt. A dangerous mission with a lot to win and everything to lose. The black king is checked several times, but just dances closer to the advanced pawns. Finally, we arrive at a critical position. The computer seemed to run out of exclamation marks when I asked it to analyze the position. It gives black an advantage of about 160 pawns! I wonder how they would fit on the board? Can you find the crushing move for black?
Instead of playing the crushing move, I missed the opportunity and played into a forced draw.
It seems I had ample chances to win this game, but I did not find the moves. I have to learn to pay more attention. But on the other hand, I managed to play for control of a square, which is something I had never done before. I could not maintain my knight on that square, but it bought me some time and put some pressure on my opponent's position. I tell myself this is the reason why he blundered the exchange, but I cannot know for sure. The endgame was just bad, so I really need to hone my skills in that department.
I hope you got something out of this post. As always, any comments and suggestions are welcome.