Critical Moments in Chess
Identifying Critical Moments in Chess is an area I'd like to greatly improve. Knowing where to put your maximum effort, where the major direction of the game hinges on this one move.
I saw two such moments from my game where I was on the White side of a French Tarrasch with 3. ... Nc6.
The first is actually for my opponent. He surprised me with his 21st move.
Critical Moment for Black
With e5 under great stress, how should Black harrass the attacking Knight on c4.
My opponent played what I believed was a novelty with 21. ... b5. Previously, only 21. ... Rhc8 had been played, and White followed with the fantastic 22. fxe5 placing Black in a bind. See Lagland,G-Mulder van Leens Dijkstra,K ICCF corr 1968 1-0 in the game notes.
I couldn't find any advantageous continuation with 22. fxe5, and thus thought my only possibility was to play 22. Na5 where the advantage passes to Black.
I missed the possibility of 22. Nd6 Kxd6 23. Nf5+ Kc7 24. Nxg7 Rhg8 25. Nh5 Bc6 and White should be equal.
Critical Moment for White
I didn't realise it at the time, but this was the moment for White to define the direction of the game.
I continued with 15. Bxb6 following idea of harrassing the uncastled King. But White simply doesn't have enough firepower to exploit the Black monarch.
In post mortem, I think 15. Qe2 is best, keeping Queens on and probing many weaknesses for Black such as weakened Kingside, bad pawn structure and White being more centralised.
My Game Annotations and Analysis