Beginner To Master - Part 1

I've decided to take another break, maybe a permanent one, from my Taking Out The Trash series.  I hope those who read it learned something, but I think it's time to move from concrete engine analysis and move on to middlegame understanding.  So I've started a new blog!  

So here's how this is going to work: I'll be playing games against my students from time to time and having them annotate the game right afterwards.  I will also annotate the same game.  Our analysis will then be published side by side, allowing readers to see where our calculation and/or evaluation was different.  Hopefully this will be quite educational.


Hopefully you enjoy the first edition of this series!


My opponent - Todd, approximate playing strength of 1400.


And my annotations...


  • 3 years ago


    Thank you! Great idea!!!

  • 3 years ago


    Incredibly instructive, some type of distillation happened here. Looking forward to more.

  • 3 years ago


    I liked the 2 sides view . Nice job.

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks for putting this together.  I appreciated not only the separate comments, but also that you are showing alternative lines that could be effective for either player.  

    Very instructive to see how Black continuously exploited the b4 'hole' in white's position.   Also, how Black used his rook in tandem with the pawn push and bishop retreat to apply deadly pressure to the position.  Finally, White's doubling of the rooks on the a-file seems completely misguided.  I'll look forward to future installations.

  • 3 years ago


    I say this kind of thing a lot, but the position around move 24 is that kind of position where, though it would be reasonable to assert that black is objectively winning, he has to find a concrete plan to get that win. In that sense I think it's debatable if black's position is actually "easily winning" -- of course it probably depends a lot on one's playing strength. Black has to be clear headed enough to find a plan or accurate sequence -- his advantages are nothing if he can't find a way to take advantage of them. I mean, say your student had your position at around move 24 and you were defending as white -- would you be so sure he would still beat you?

    Bear with me if I am just missing a simple forced win for black. But if white plays 25 h3 or something, there doesn't seem to be any ...Rxc3 tricks or anything. Black probably can exploit white's awkward situation, maybe prepare ...e5 at some point to make his d pawn active, but black can not just run on autopilot here -- he has to find plans like that and execute them accurately. Pointing out a good winning plan for black I think would be instructive.

  • 3 years ago


    Thank You - It was very instructive!

  • 3 years ago


    Nice game. Maybe his decision to play a4 isn't the most accurate but I don't think it is completely dubious. In fact, Vlad Kramnik once played it against some 2500.

    I think you made a very good point that b4 would be especially weak and that black's correct plan would be to plant pieces on this square. However, I think you actually went for nb4 way too quickly in the game and allowed white some counter chances. Instead of 5...na6?!, I think 5...e6! is the most accurate move order. The reason being that, while his b4 square is weak, your own b5 square is also potentially very weak. 5...na6 allows white to play 6. cd cd bf4, a better square than g5 as played in the game. Now, a knight on b4 looks misplaced on you have to deal with nb5 incursions into your own camp. 5...e6 allows you to capture back on d5 with the e pawn, and the hole on b4 isn't going anywhere. 

    Also, by playing e6, you get to play for some sort of carlsbad pawn structure except with a4 a5 added in. I think you can play for much more with this pawn structure, and it will only favor black. 

    That being said, I think the rest of the game was played very well. 

  • 3 years ago


    « Love the idea....would prefer the two comments on the same Board (different font perhaps) »

    So do I. Or just write the list of moves with comments, but it's too tough to go from one board to the other.


    (I mean like this one, in French : ; green and red texts are from the players, and blue is from their trainer. It is much more readable.)

  • 3 years ago


    Alright. So either white allows b5 at some point, or white plays a4 and gives black the b4 square. This makes me think that white could play 6. a5 to get the best of both worlds. It has the additional benefit of supporting a potential Na4-b6 plan.

    I assume there is a reason white doesn't do this. Would the a5 pawn then become weak? It seems difficult for black to attack it in the short-term, but it could be a long term weakness I suppose.

  • 3 years ago

    NM ih8sens

    Good question :). Because white plays a4, black is able to secure b4 for a knight, thereby securing counter play for the rest of the game. Usually white is forced to trade everything and settle for equality.

  • 3 years ago


    I don't understand the Chebanenko variation you give on white's 4th move. Why does black meet 6. Bg5 with 6..a5, considering he played a6 two moves ago?

  • 3 years ago


    I think this is a really nice idea i thought white was doing alright with the comments he gave, but then it was suddenly over.

  • 3 years ago


    This is a great idea. It helps to see the same game twice (from two different points of view no less) which I almost never force myself to do :P

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