Psst: You don't always need to castle
It's one of the first pieces of advice: Develop some pieces, move some pawns, and castle! The idea is simple, keep the king safe and develop the rook to the center. But, sometimes castling isn't necessary and sometimes it's even a bad idea. There are lines in the Pirc and the French defense where castling creates more complications than keeping the king in the center. In closed games, one can often save the tempo until the center opens up. In this game I decided on a new strategy on move 7. Initially I was going to recapture with Nd2, but then I thought, "What the heck". The open g file could help in an attack, and the doubled pawns controlled the kingside nicely keeping my opponents pieces ay bay. The biggest issue was that once I decided to capture with the pawn, it would have made much more sense to have the knight on c3. Nevertheless, the strategy worked out. I did give up the full point in time trouble at the end.