I previously analysed a game I played, critical of how I did not prepare my attack and promptly was punished in a counter attack.
I submitted the game to GM Bojkov and he shed light with excellent recommendations which highlighted to me flaws in my thinking, prejudice in my play and where I need to improve on. This is exactly what I need in the road to improvement.
Lesson 1: Restricting counterplay in the Pirc
I have always flipped between aggressive White setups (f3 Saemisch style) and quieter positional lines.
A positional idea I hadn't considered here was a4, followed by h3 and then Be3.
The idea is to give Black difficulties in gaining active counterplay.
Should Black eventually strike with ... e5, then after dxe5 White would target the d6 square.
Lesson 2: Striking against a c6-b5 setup with a4
The importance of striking at b5 with a4. Note that Black can't defend with ... a6 due to the a-file pin.
Lesson 3: Don't relieve tension (if possible)
In the diagramed position I played Bxg7 which unnecessarily relieves tension.
A greater priority for White was to prepare f4 (via Nh2), or develop his a1-Rook.
This reflects a long term psychological deficiency common to chess players ... not being able to handle unresolved tension in a position (typically pawn exchanges).
Lesson 4: Not ideal to lead with the Queen
Here I played 17. Qg5 leading with the Queen and threatening Nf5.
Black can simply defuse this with ... Kh8 or ... Ng8 (covering f6 and h6).
A better plan is opening the f-file with Nh2 preparing f4.
The real damage comes about in the weak dark squares around Black's King.
Lesson 5: No prejudice in Chess Thinking
In post mortem I had regreted not preparing Rae1 in my preparation of f4, and thought this was my mistake.
GM Bojkov pointed out that best here was 21. Rf2 preparing Raf1.
I had not even considered this move, as I reasoned "Why would I want to pin my own Rook and make it immobile".
This really highligted a prejudice in my chess thinking. If I had seen the forest from the trees, I'd have appreciated that this is only temporary, and that I can double on the f-file to achieve my goal, and simply break the pin with Kh1 after.
Lesson 6: If your opponent is cramped, avoid exchanging pieces
Time and again one reads this commentary but you don't appreciate it until you see the devastating consequences in your own games.
Here I played 22. Ng4 reasoning that I would be exchanging off defenders in Black's camp.
In fact, I am doing the opposite! I am freeing Black's cramped position.
This would be the most important lesson for me from this game!!
Black's Knights actually get in each other's way. After 22. fe Rxe5 23. Qf4, only one piece can occupy e5. Black can't break with ... b5 due to Ba4, and his Knights must stay mutually protecting each other for the hold up the defence.
Example of a cramped position that has become freed
Compare the previous position where Black is cramped to this diagram where he has exchanged off a pair of Knights.
Now he is liberated!
Both his Bishop and Knight train in at g4, his Knight on e5 stands proud (free from the shackles of defending his brother) and my Bishop is now ineffective.
This contrast highlights to me, through my own games, the importance of not freeing your opponent if they are cramped.
Lesson 7: Study the Ruy Lopez Breyer (or openings outside your repetoire)
I had believed I was in a King's Indian style formation, when in fact I had been in a Ruy Lopez Breyer pawn structure.
I lacked an understanding in my game primarily because I was attempting to find plans that had already been found.
This highlights to me how I have to broaden my chess positions that I play. I'm not talking about studying specific variations, but being familiar with different plans and schemes from other openings.
I started Chess quite late at 18, and consequently stuck to a very narrow repetoire with Black (Sicilian Dragon and King's Indian) and White (Quiet Italian against ... e5). In the long run, this makes you limited in one you can do. You don't have an all round game. It's something I'll have to foster with time.