Tournament games are intense. It's easy to get so caught up in them that you forget why you began playing chess in the first place: to enjoy yourself! This was one of those tournament games that was utterly enjoyable to play: gambits, positional sacrifices, untouchable monster knights that went on to wreak havoc, quiet moves, plenty of tactics, a cute mate finish...this game had it all.
We chess players torture ourselves for hours trying to win "unwinnable" games and draw "utterly lost" games that we have to enjoy an utterly enjoyable game when it comes our way. I hope you enjoy this one, too!
This was a key last-round battle in the North Virginia Open. White is trying to consolidate his position and emerge a clean pawn ahead. How can black keep him off balance and obtain a long-term positional advantage? (Hint: This position exemplifies the close link between positional and tactical play.)
The sacrificer is often tempted to "prove" his or her sacrifice ASAP. Often this is justified, but this case is different. As I mentioned, the monstrous black knights aren't going anywhere (not backwards, anyway), and white's pieces aren't going anywhere good any time soon (the placement of the d3 knight basically denies the queen's bishop, and therefore the queen's rook, their development). So after a long think here, looking at various attempts to deliver a knockout punch, I realized that they were all premature (see notes below). So I found a simple solution: complete my development, after which I can continue my attack unhindered. Taking a step back and playing patiently like this can often lead to the results you want without allowing a positional edge to slip away. There is a time for dynamic play, but sometimes, after honestly assessing various lines and realizing that the opportunity just isn't quiet there yet, slow play (preparation) may be called for. When and where is for your judgement and intuition to decide after careful analysis of the position. Hopefully the analysis here helps to inform this decision making process.
I must thank my opponent for making this enjoyable game possible. I wish him and everyone else many enjoyable games to come! Thanks for reading and feel free to share your input.