Rejoining the fight - game 8
This is a blog about a former NM who basically retired from serious chess for about 15 years to pursue family and career, trying to make a mini comeback without studying too much or working too hard. Each blog will see me annotate a game from my tournament play, with a general smattering of my thoughts during the game, and what I hopefully learned from it.
With the nervous first round out of the way, I was hoping now to settle in and have a relatively straightforward and easy win. Unfortunately, with black, you often are limited in what you can do by how ambitiously white chooses to play, and even relatively low rated players are capable of learning a solid opening system that is playable against just about anything.
Such was the case with my next opponent; if you've read my past blogs, you'll know that I don't particularly enjoy sidelines - I want to play the main lines and have sharp games. Against the London system, it's pretty difficult to do so; I did come up with a goofy system many years ago that's objectively pretty poor, but invovles getting in a quick ...e5. It's really an area of my openings that I should upgrade significantly. However, at the time of the game, that upgrade had yet to occur..
[Event "Douglas Champ"]
[White "Cottrell, S."]
[Black "the big dumdum"]
1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 c6 3. c3 Nd7 4. Bf4 g6 5. e3 Bg7 6. Be2 Nh6
The basic idea of my goofy system is to set up like this, then play 0-0, f6, Nf7, and e5. The problem is that black doesn't have enough tempos to do this before white gets in e4 and everything gets bad. However, in the event that white delays by even one tempo, it works pretty well. Betting on your opponent to make a mistake is a pretty weak strategy.
7. h3 O-O 8. g4 Re8 9. Bd3 f6 10. g5 fxg5
As opposed to the standard play of looking for e4, my opponent has chosen a very unusual line, playing for g4-g5, and he's actually succeeded in stopping me from getting in my desired ...e5. However, he's failed to develop his pieces and left his king in the middle. If I can get ...e5 in, things should cruise pretty smoothly for me, which means he has to try to suppress ...e5 as much as possible, which means Bxg5 is required here. However...
11. Nxg5 e5 12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. Qc2 Qf6
So, I've managed to open up the center, I hold more space, and better pieces generally. It's a position that's clearly better for black, and white now blunders a piece immediately, after which the game is pretty simple.
14. Nd2 Nxd3+ 15. Qxd3 Qxf4 16. Ndf3 Bf5 17. Qe2 Qa4 18. b3 Bxc3+ 19. Kf1 Qa6 20. Qxa6 bxa6 21. Rc1 Bg7 22. Rg1 Rac8 23. Nh4 Bd3+ 24. Ke1 c5 25. Kd2 c4 26. Ngf3 Bf8 27. Nd4 Bb4+ 28. Kd1 Ba3 29. Rc3 Bb2 30. Rxd3 cxd3 31. Ndf5 Nxf5 32. Nxf5 Rc1+ 0-1
Well, to be honest, it's tough to take much out of this game. My opponent played a pretty dubious opening, and blundered a piece on move 14 and I won in a walk after that. However, there are a couple of things..
Learning 1: even if you don't like an opening and want to crush it, you don't have the right to play weak responses. This is my particular example, but you could just as easily point to someone who plays obscure sidelines against any major opening, justifying it with "I wanted him out of book and this line has some tricks". It's not the road to sustainable improvement.
Learning 2: In the position, I've basically committed everything to getting in ...e5, and I admit that during the game I wasn't that sure it was going to be so great - he's only one Nbd2 away from being able to castle queenside, and then my king isn't really safer than his. It is good to take away a slightly larger appreciation for the value and power of getting in ...e5 in these sorts of structures.
Next round - it starts to get tougher, and rather than a solid position, I come under heavy fire from a lower rated opponent