Games of an amateur: How to lose in five moves

Jun 15, 2014, 1:57 AM |

How can it be that everything looks rosy after 11 moves, and is then in tatters after move 16? A lesson in passivity - and being your own worst enemy.

This is a game played at Oslo Schackselskap's tournament Knut Bøckmans Pinsecup this June. I played white against a decent club player, who at 1777 is app. 150 FIDE ELO points ahead of me. 

The game started as a Dutch opening, of which my main knowledge is that white is supposed to fianchetto with g4 and Bg2. Also, I know there are ideas where you trade your DSB for the knight on f6, weakening the defence around the king.

The opening was not too bad - I misplaced my queen on b3 instead of going to c2, supporting an e4 move - but Black has just played the very aggressive g4; which the computer does not like at all; it's classed almost as a blunder.

So where to go from here?

Material is even, Black has a space advantage on the kingside, but also a loose position around his own king. Black has temporary weak pawns on b7 and h7, while the squares b6, b5, d6, e6 and f6 are weak. White has no weak pawns, a weak square on d3 and that's it. I wish I had evaluated like this in the game! 

The computer recommends either Na4, going to b6, a3, Rac1 or Rad1 (with a lot of other nice moves as other possible options). Na4 gives White a +1.7 advantage (after Nb6 the a pawn is falling for Black. I saw none of this in the game!), according to Fritz. Also, kicking away the knight with h3 is fine.

I opt for something way more confused; Ne2?. The thought was to defend the f4 square, but this weakens my grip on d4 and does nothing constructive.

And then it goes on and on. Until we reach this position after my move 16. Be1?! - the fifth dubious move in a row:

Of course, the game is not lost completely, but the nature of the position has clearly changed: While I after 10 moves had good prospects on the queenside, I have now moved three of my pieces into more defensive positions; the knight to e2, the bishhop to e1(!) and the queen to b3 - while at the same time moving the rook away from protecting f2. Black has on the other hand brought the queen into the attack, shored up the pawn structure and no longer needs to worry about Na4-Nb6. 

It all falls apart after 18. Nd2? Qh5 (of course) 19. Nxe4?? Qxh2+ after which my position completely collapses in two more moves. 

What to learn? Spend two minutes evaluating the position, especially when I do not see any particular interesting move right away. As a mediocre player, I will not have the complete picture in my mind at all times; reevaluating will be a help in assessing the position better. Here, I would have been pleasantly surprised to see the many weaknesses in Black's position, compared to my own. Maybe - just maybe - that would have led me to formulate an actual plan, instead of just waiting to be beaten. Which is not a great feeling at a chess board.

This blog is a way for me to collect my thoughts as a player, hopefully helping me to improve over time.