Dipping My Toe into the Slav
There comes a point when you're trying to learn new systems, ultimately you have to play them. In branching away from the King's Indian as Black, I've delved into Slav style structures and am finding through experience the necessity to seek active play with a timely ... c5 or ... e5.
What type of pawn break should Black aim for?
I chose 9. ... c5, but only in post analysis did I discover that 9. ... e5 was more popular. It's worth me investigating the Black strategy in this position.
Missing the Opportunity to Play Actively
In this position I played very mechanically with 11. ... 0-0, failing to realise that my most important priority is active Queenside play and the development of my light squared Bishop. To that end, 11. ... b5 would have been in the spirit, giving support to ... c4 to follow.
I really have to strive to cut out "automatic moves".
Fear of Tension
I felt very uncomfortable in this position, where White has control of the c-file, better development and e4 looming. Instinctively I sought to exchange Queens with 15. ... Qb4??, which falls into a fork after 16. Qxb4 Nxb4 17. Bd6 and Black is lost with no compensation.
I'm still struggling to see how I could have improved. I investigated 15. ... b5 but didn't like 16. e4 followed by Bc7.
To that end, the difficulties for Black may centre around White playing e4. Worth exploring is the "anti positional" ... f5 or N7f6 restraining the advance.
My Game Annotations and Analysis
This was a very low quality game by me, after blundering the exchange with no compensation.
As a followup, I feel it important to start from the basics and research the type of position Black is aiming for in these Semi-Slav pawn structures.
Chess Structures by GM Rios
Chapter 4 Slav Formation
This is excellent material in understanding the plans for both White and Black.
For White, he states that he has better control of the centre, more space due to the pawn on the 4th rank. Black should aim for a central break (c5 or e5).
1. Kingside attack with advance of the h-pawn
2. Knight on strong outposts at e5 and c5
3. Play e5 to control d6
4. Minority attack with a4 and b5 to create Queenside weakness
5. Gaining space with b4 to preven the ... c5 break.
1. Break centre with ... c5 with symmetrial position
2. Break centre with ... e5 to create 4-2 or 3-3 pawn structure
3. Exert pressure on d4 if e-pawn advances
4. Distrupt White centre with ... f5
Outposts: He speaks of outposts comparing the Black Knight on d5 being ousted easily with e4.
White's Knights on c5 or e5 can not be easiy dislodged due to weakening e6 or c6.
Demonstrates White's Kingside attacking chances with h-pawn advance if centre under control.
Compare the strength of the Knight outposts. Black's Knights are easily dislodged after e4, whilst the White Knight on e5 is unmoved.
White breaks Black's passive defence if Black doesn't achieve a ... c5 or ... e5 break.
Observe how White firstly prevents the ... c5 break, and then applies a minority attack on Black's Queenside.
Black carries through the ...c5 break. Knight on b4 limiting coordination of White pieces.
The e5 break disrupts the White centre, with penetration along the d-file
White's vulnerable d-pawn after e-pawn advance, pressure from Bg7 and the ... f5 break