My game against FM NFork: Initiative, Counterplay, and Odd Strategic Thoughts

Aug 3, 2013, 11:10 PM |
     This game was part of FM NFork's first simul, and the time control is 45|30. I have written extensive comments on some of the variations.
     So, this is the interesting position. I spent maybe 40 minutes (maybe even longer) trying to think about the position just on moves 16-19 during the game, and chose the wrong one.
     A few things to learn: First, time management is obviously an issue. I think I was right to notice a critical moment in this position. In the heat of battle though, practical considerations are important as well, especially if I want to play to an endgame with enough time. This lesson is instructive because I recently played another game (I hope I can review this one at some point) where I blundered a very strong position because I was thinking about the position so long over a real board (without moving the pieces, of course) that when I looked up at the laptop screen I found only a minute left in my time bank! Ouch.
      Second, it would be interesting to think about how much it affected me that I played an FM. I gave the queen+rook battery a lot of respect and that may have irked me to switch gears from my kingside plans completely. And, I cannot say whether this was me being afraid of my strong opponent or whether I am simply weak at trying to maintain initiative (not exclusive options).
     Third, to be honest and harsh with myself, I had an erroneous thought process going on when I chose not to play d5. I think, post-game, this is the best way to stop the black Q+R from penetrating the position. Nevertheless, my train of thought went: I'm worried about the active play after cxd4, and d5 stops this. But if I play d5, then I lock up the center pawns. Once center pawns are locked, my lead pawn d5 points me, strategically, to the queenside. That means my attack should be on the queenside but my pieces are on the kingside.
     Though I remembered the point about the direction of the pawn chain, a more important one is that I need not always be in attack mode. I probed weaknesses on the kingside already, so if I can prevent counterplay in the center, then (maybe) I have time to regroup my pieces and transfer them over since black will be a bit more cramped. That will lead to a nice position for white. With strategic maneuvering from both sides I will likely get outplayed, but without outright blundering a piece as I did in the actual game. Overall, a very instructive experience.