My first loss of the year is particularly disappointing since it's against a player who is rated a class below me, and it was one of those frustrating losses where I was under pressure the whole game and almost never felt I had a real chance to win. I thought I was over it soon after the game, dismissing the emotional toll with deceitful ideas like "Well, I wouldn't lose if I had cared about it anyway," but later in the week I realized that getting dominated from start to finish against a player rated 300 lower than me had hurt my confidence more than I was initially willing to accept. That's part of the reason I decided to analyze the game deeply and see what exactly had happened. Here are my annotations. (I tried to keep the variations short and simple and tried to focus on what was and wasn't going through my head).
- 7...d5 was an innocent-looking blunder for which I suffered the whole game, eventhough my opponent didn't capitilize on it immediately. Even if it weren't failing tactically, I shouldn't have locked my bishop in and should've gone for a d6 setup instead.
- 10...h6 might not be a huge blunder, but it's a move made with no intention, plan or idea, and almost with the purpose of simply passing the right to move. When I don't know what to do, I must try to figure out what to do, not make some random move. Every decision counts.
- Not playing 16...bxc3 wasn't a critical mistake that cost me the game, nor would playing it have turned the tables, but again, it's one of those moves that demonstrate your spirit to fight, to create problems for your opponent, to "give them a chance to make a mistake." 16...Ne4 instead is just passive defense.
- Completely missing white's threats of Bd6 through moves 31-35 was a very bad sign. It shows how faulty my thinking process was and how detached I was from the game.
- Well, after losing a pawn with 36.Bxb4, not giving up altogether but instead trying to execute a decent plan, even if it's quite vague, might be the only positive thing to bring home from this game.
- A player who doesn't fight and try his or her best is a player who is a whole class lower. Chess is a very difficult game and lower rated opponents don't simply lose the games for you, you have to struggle to win. Making normal looking moves just doesn't cut it, and choices on which pawn to push and subtle differences between moves like Nd3 and Nc3 can decide the game. It's necessary to calculate variations every single move.