Chess960 - Pobble vs. synbi0nt
This is the analysis I made for my second Chess960 game. It mainly focusses on the thought process that went on before I made my moves rather than a commentary on the game as a whole.
The knight on a1 will have to be centralised if it is to have an active role in the game. Nb3 accomplishes this to some extent whilst reinforcing a future pawn advance to d4 to control the centre.
1. ... g7
2. d4 ...
The aforementioned advance to d4. No point in waiting; might as well do it now when White’s position is not under pressure.
2. ... e5
3. dxe5 ...
The 4 possibilities considered were this move (the exchange), d5 (the advance), e3 and f3.
The advance would probably go something like 3.d5 Nb6 4.e4 c6 (figure 1 below) after which White’s pawn centre would collapse to an isolated pawn on d5 which would be very difficult to defend.
3. e3 seems passive and defensive which just doesn't fit the attacking style of chess I like to play. Also, the pawn filled diagonal that would develop on f2-d4 would close out White’s g1 bishop.
3. f3 would defend d4 with the white squared bishop and prepare a future e2-e4 advance. However, White’s bishop on h1 would soon be cut out of the action with the pawns on the long diagonal.
The move chosen allows White to develop both knights with gain of time after 3...Bxe4 4.Nd3 (threatening the bishop, the recapture with rook would probably be unfavourable as White could harass it with minor pieces) 4...Bf6. Then, after 5. e4, I think White has achieved a good position with a strong pawn in the centre and two developed knights with the option to castle queenside available. Threats along the a1-h8 diagonal will begin to appear after the likely 5...Qg7 (Figure 2 below), but I believe the lack of development from the other Black pieces will pose a problem for Black. After Black moves his queen, White can choose between 6. 0-0-0 or 6.f4.
3. … Bxe5
4. Nd3 f6
An unexpected but solid looking move. This leaves White with some options such as castling queenside, advancing to e4, exchanging on e5 and harassing the bishop with f4. It is important to note that White will always be castling queenside rather than kingside in this situation since in order to let out the bishops on g1 and h1 it is necessary to advance the kingside pawns which would compromise White’s king. If White castles now Black would have the option of the bishop for knight exchange on b3 which would force a weakening of White’s queenside. White would most likely get the advantage of the two bishops but I feel the safety of White’s king is a greater concern.
If White were to take the exchange on e5 it would soon become very difficult to make the key f4 advance to free the bishop on g1 since Black would have a strong pawn on e5.
Advancing to e4 now would be solid; however I think it makes more sense to play f4 first, forcing away the Black bishop followed by a possible e4 or g3.
5. f4 Bd6
6. g3 ...
Simple and effective, White reinforces the f4 pawn, releases the h1 bishop and begins to threaten the b7 square after placing a knight on c5. The Black bishop and queen now reinforce each other on the diagonal which could pose a problem when White decides to make an a3 advance freeing the b3 knight from its pin.
6. ... a5?
The pawn thrust has likely been made to lure (or force) the White knight away from b3 allowing a dangerous capture on a2. However, White can seize the advantage through 7. Nxa5 Bxa2 8. Nxb7+ Ke7 9. Ra1... with threats of taking the a2 bishop with rook and taking the d6 bishop with knight and discovered attack on the a8 knight. Black can escape after 9...Be6 10.Nxd6 Nxd6, but White wins a pawn, prevents Black castling and is in a far more comfortable position. If 7.Nxa5 Bxa2 8.Nxb7+ Rxb7, Black loses a piece after 9.Bxb7 Bxb1 10.Bxa1... and Black's bishop is trapped on b1 after 11.b2.
7. Nxa5 Bxa2
8. Nxb7+ Rxb7
9. Bxb7 Bxb1
10. Bxa8 Qf7
11. b2 ...
And the bishop is trapped. It is not necessary to attempt to capture the bishop immediately as the b and c pawns have made the piece redundant since it cannot do anything useful. Black’s best bet is to play 11...Ba2 and swap his bishop for the two pawns and exposing White’s king.
11. ... Qe6
12. e4 ...
The move planned for after 6.g3 is played now that the distractions on the queenside have been dealt with. White frees the queen and rook whilst making a stab at the centre squares. Also a preparatory move to Nc5 harassing the Black queen and encouraging the exchange for Black’s remaining active bishop. 12... Qg4+ is met with 13. Kc3 approaching the trapped bishop. If 12... f5 then 13.e5 cramps Black’s position and attacking the Black bishop.
12. ... Ba3
The bishop move rules out the immediate capture of Black’s other bishop by the White king.
13. Bd5 Qb6??
And a blunder by Black costs him the game.
Please post any thoughts or comments, It's always good to get another perspective on any game.