Playing in the Masters Tournament (2200+) on chess.com has been just what I needed! Hard tough games where I've scored just half a point out of 5. It's through analysing these losses that I will see my short comings and what I have to work on.
On the Black side of a Moscow Variation, I went down after not being able to hang tough in defence. This is a common theme in my games, where my opponent applies pressure to me, and I make it far too easy for him to breakthrough.
This loss has taught me much about activity and my nature to not strive hard enough for the initiative.
Too Passive Too Quickly
With Black to move, I'd assess this position as slight better for White, as the weakness on c6 is much easier for White to target than it is for Black to exploit f3.
I played what seemed to me to be the very natural 19. ... Rac8. Now, after reviewing the game of Khalifman-Akopian, Yerevan 1996, I can see a more active plan is to have the Rook on d6 and King on d7 defending the c-pawn, whilst the a-Rook is left to advance the a-pawn potentially to a4 which will dislodge the Bishop from attacking f7 and give White equality.
Such schemes don't come naturally to me. I must improve active defence rather than defaulting to passive defence.
Fast forward 4 moves in my game, and I can now see how passive I've become by assigning such defensive duties to my Rooks. White has all day to regroup his forces and sit on me, whilst I have nothing active to do.
Hold On For One More Day
After being cramped for some time, I lash out with 28. ... Nb4 but this is bad timing for White simply won the pawn with 29. Nxc6+.
Instead, I had to hold tighter with 28. ... c5 29. Bc4 Nc7 and be prepared to play Ne6 should the Bishop move.
I liken this to SNG tournaments short handed, where people play far too loose at the start, and then far too conservative at the very end.
Order of Priority
In a worse position, I thought my priority was to activate my Bishop with 30. ... Bf6. This isn't concrete enough. I had to have played 30. ... Rd2 seeking immediate counterplay, and if 31. Rc7+ then Rd7 offering opposite coloured Bishops with 2 pawns down.
After missing this chance, my opponent completely shut me out with 31. Bd5 and won this ending very clinically and instructively.
My Game Annotations and Analysis