Castling Into "It"

Castling Into "It"

Dec 20, 2016, 6:10 AM |

An enlightening loss on the Black side of a Tarrasch Defence. 

This game highlighted me the important of positional understanding of which pieces to trade and which to keep. More so, the paradoxes of Chess when one is defending. One may think one needs to trade off the Bishop pair when facing pressure, but in fact it may be better to keep that piece to blockade and close the position.

Lesson 1: What to do with the Light Squared Bishop

I innocently played 6. ... Bd7 believe it would be great to exchange off light squared Bishops. However, Black's light squared Bishop is best served at g4 where it is more active.

Lesson 2: Which way to go?
Faced with an inevitable e4 push, I jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire with 11. ... 0-0-0? This is castling right into it and after 12. b3! I found it far too hard for Black to hold.
A better plan would have been to castle short asap. To this end, 11. ... Bd6 is far more active, looking to block the e-file with Ne7 if necessary. This is far better than 11. ... Be7 which places the Bishop on an awful pin.

Lesson 3: Blockade in Defence
It is reaching a critical position, and sensing great danger to myself with Queenside pressure, I reasoned that exchanging off the light squared Bishop was best.
However, I didn't realise the b4 Knight is holding everything together. To that end, 13. ... Kb8 with cb to follow is the best idea to reach a blockading position as below.

Lesson 4: Death on Dark Squares
I was very impressed with my opponent's play with the regrouping 26. Be1 intending Bg3 and invasion on the dark squares (though my opponent was later barred under the Fair Play Policy). A true illustration of attacking with opposite coloured Bishops.

My Game Annotations and Analysis
Assistance and thanks to GM Bojkov