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Getting Whipped in the DHLC Weekly

Pligrim
Nov 15, 2014, 9:50 AM 3

I've been playing slow games fairly regularly recently, though I haven't been tournamenting it up. My new (and improved) standard rating I've managed to keep in the low 1700s through the end of the adjustment period, so that's good. I also raised my blitz rating, which is now consistently in the low 1500s, peaking occasionally at just below 1600. 

However, you learn the most from your losses, and this week I had two brutal ones, which I'm posting now.

Game One: I had the white pieces in a Najdorf Sicillian. I've been trying to settle on a line, and this time I played the old mainline, 6. Bc4. The line looked attractive to me for a few reasons: 1) Bobby Fischer preferred it. 2) There are some neat ideas with sacing the bishop on e6. 3) If I can provoke e5 (which is a main idea for black), then I already have pressure on d5. The problem is, the line doesn't generate any real plans for white (part of the reason the line is so popular for black), so I was sort of out of water.

Improvements:

Opening: Figure out a line to play against the Najdorf--preferably something that generates a plan of attack.

Middlegame: There were multiple points where playing f5 (obstensibly sacrificing a pawn) would have cracked open the position to my advantage. I need to not be so timid and go for aggressive moves like that, particularly when the position calls for it.

General: Games with the Najdorf Sicillian require a lot of concrete calculation, and that's something I need to improve on. It's part of the reason the line is so popular--black spends tempi not developing or controlling the center, but each move he makes is concretely justified, and so playing against it requires solid calculation.

Game Two: In my second game, I was playing a person 300 Elo higher than me, in an opening I'm not familiar with (the Pirc). I decided to play a Yugoslav/English type attack, but I lashed out far too early, and paid dearly.

Improvements:

Opening: No need to rush the trade of the DSBs--use the tempi to get castled and develop. Also consider an early h4--the Knight is probably better developed to h3.

Middlegame: Opposite sides castling means you need to build up and attack. However, you also need to give your king at least some safety. Castling means that ripping open the center is no longer as effective, and therefore actually increases your central control (indirectly at least). The killer Be6 move would not have worked without the queen check. Opening principles exist for a reason--you get punished if you don't follow them!

General/Psychology: Playing higher-rated players is intimidating, but one should still play good chess. I pulled the trigger too early on a number of things, and neglected my king in an attempt to attack, attack, attack. Instead, I should have simply played h4, continued developing calmly, and used my central advantage and quicker development to press my advantage.

Let me know what y'all think (also, if you play the Najdorf, what lines annoy you the most, and if you play the Open Sicillian as white, what do you play against it?)

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