Giving away the advantage in the dragon

Apr 30, 2016, 4:27 PM |

This was a slow, USCF rated game (30/90 SD/60, d/5). I spent 16 minutes on this move and, according to Stockfish, gave away my ~3 point advantage.

The position after 18 .. Nb6:

I evaluated two different moves: one was spicy and exciting (19. gxh5), the other was safe (I thought) and methodical (19. Nc3). I didn't see a clear win with gxh5 and saw my kingside deteriorating (analysis below). Also I didn't get the sense that the safe move was giving away an advantage, so I went with Nc3.

I'm trying to figure out what I missed that made Nc3 so bad.

An evaluation of the position.

Material is equal.

White advantages:

* Kingside attack is strong. Pawns are ready to strike. Rooks are in position. Black King has few defenders.

 * Outpost knight on b5 slows down black's usage of the half-open c file.

* Half-open d file, but not useful at the moment.

White disadvantages:

* a pawn is loose.

Black advantages:

* Dragon bishop has big scope.

* Half-open c file.

* Not many cracks in the defense, besides h5 pawn.

Black disadvantages:

* Unsafe king.

* Sad rooks.

Evaluating moves:

19. Nc3.

What does this do?

* It protects undefended a pawn.

* keeps kingside from getting devastated. The Knight was pretty powerful there, but it will lose its support.

* It gives black access to c7. Giving a nice square to black's queen.

19. gxh5

What does this do?

* Go after the king! My rooks and queen are positioned to do some damage on the kingside. Downside: I let my king get exposed. I calculated: 19. gxh5 Nxa4 20. hxg6 Bxb2+ 21. Kb1 Rc8 22. gxf7+ Kxf7 Qg5. I wasn't able to see a clear win here so I went for the move I thought was safer. Hold the position together, I thought the kingside storm could wait.



I'm not sure what to conclude here.

1. I don't see a win with gxh5. It seems bad for black, but don't see a clear plan forward.

2. I don't see why Nc3 gives away the advantage. Maybe because it gives black better access to the c-file? Is this worth 3 points?


Full game: