Two steps forward and two steps back


A while back, I wrote a post about how the winner is the player who makes the next to last mistake. This is actually a game that demonstrates that this saying is not always true. In this case, there were many (!) mistakes and blunders. The final blunder decided the game, but gave away the victory and made the game end in a draw.

In this game, I played a fellow club member that I have played several times before. The game began as a fairly normal Sicilian dragon, but suddenly I made a tempting but misguided move.

Black took the game out of book.
White to play and exploit.

As I wrote above, the game went back and forth, and both players made several mistakes. In this position, white has a winning advantage, but fails to exploit it. He plays the most natural move in the world (IMHO).


White to play and rebalance the game.
What would you play? 

In the position above, would you have taken the pawn? I think I would. Even with the help of the computer, I have a hard time seeing how Nce6 is so much better. If you see it, please share your thoughts in the comments field.

In the final par of the game, it all comes down to one thing - pawn promotion. Both players have a passed pawn, and both players want to promote (Duh!). So the question becomes this: Which player has the best chance of promoting, and how can the opponent stop it? The position below illustrates the problem.

Black to play.
How would you stop the pawn.

The direct Rb8 seems to be very much to the point, since it wastes no time to get to the a-file. But white has the very simple reply Be4, which controls the critical a8-square and stops the rook from making any progress. The problem is, none of the players notice this battle. Black does not show any signs of playing Ra8, and white does nothing to prevent it. Decent players will probably shake their heads in disgust and stop reading here. It is poor chess, indeed.

White ends up having a crushing position, but manages to throw it all away by moving the king to the wrong square at a critical moment. Black is able to trade off material, and the rest is history.

So what do I take away from this game?

  1. When playing theoretical lines, stick to theory. At my level, any 'novelties' are probably bad.
  2. Castle early to get the king safe (Chess 101).
  3. Do not expose the queen in the early part of the game (Chess 101).
  4. I have a hard time evaluating middle games correctly. I need to stop and look deeper to find the truth about the position.
  5. I need to improve my endgame skills. I demonstrated utter lack of technique in this game.
  6. The game isn't over until it is over. At this level, both players may make critical mistakes right until the very end. 

So what are your thoughts about this game? Can you improve on my analysis? Can you explain why white is better after 36. Nce6? If you have any other thoughts, feel free to share below.