Road to 2k: Ruy Lopez and Pressure Application
When I first started out in May 2015, the first thing I wanted to learn was openings. The reason for this is (from someone who was completely out of the scene 6 weeks ago verse you guys who probably forgot what that is like) is because openings are the most prominant thing that non-chess players see and hear when they read anything about chess. Think about it, games are defined by the opening. Spanish Game, Scotch Game, Bongcloud, etc. So I looked them up. I learned the Vienna first, but after playing 100ish games with the e4 variant, I ditched it for the Ruy Lopez. The reason is because it's much easier for me to find great data on the Spanish Game to study, and theories behind it, and more-so, more lines are calculated out with hundreds and hundreds of games instead of dozens.
So I read that for new players it's important to learn 3 openings. One white opening, one black opening for e4 and one for d4. It's also important to learn the basic fundementals of the openings so when your opponent does something you don't know or recognize, or the openings break down, you have a strong theoretical base to fall back on.
Okay, so, the game:
(Pardon the lack of annotations in the play-through, it seems to not be working currently).
3. Bb5 d6
4. Bxc6+ Bxc6- Some lines and games I've seen show the White Bishop backing off here, but keeping the Knight pinned to the King, but I prefer the exchange variant if and only if I can put the King into check and the only defense options by Black are giving up castling, giving up a Bishop or Queen + Knight + maybe Castling or doubling up the pawns on the C file.
Clearly here my opponent chose doubling up the C file pawns.
5. Nc3 Ba6
6. d3 d5 - His Ba6 was supposed to prevent me from Castling, but I'm able to develop a strong pawn structure and allow myself to castle on move 7, and the pawn structure leaves his Queen open for a discovered attack.
7. O-O dxe4 - Two things occur here that I can see. My opponent doubles up his e file pawns, and he's begun "developing" an attack but hasn't developed his minor pieces all the way here.
8. Nxe5 Ne7 - This is another mistake by my opponent. My next series of moves is going to be based around trying to pin his Knight to his King.
9. Re1 exd3 - This sets up the "discovered" pin, and now I can use my Knight on e5 to set up a fork, attacking his Queen and his Knight.
10. Nxc6 Qd6
11. Qf3 f6- In my initial analysis, this is the strongest play. According to Lichess computer analysis, it's a mistake, and I should play Qf3. This line goes incredibly deep, to a level that I'm not comfortable predicting, more, one that I can't actually calculate yet... The line of Qf3 ends with a poor position for Black, connected Rooks for white, and a dark squared Bishop + 2 Rooks for Black vs. 2 Rooks + 2 Knights for white. My line forces him to be uncomfortable, which at my ELO seems more valuable to me, as my opponents still average a few blunders or a lot of mistakes, and so putting them in this position is a little better for me currently.
**Interestingly enough, the order I did things turns out that Qf3 was a blunder, but the order of the 10 Qf3 line has 11 being the fork with Nxc6, so literally just reversing those two moves is the difference between the correct way to get my pieces to those places, or a "blunder."
Now, I looked through why they called it a blunder, because even though I wasn't expecting Qd6 from my opponent, the follow up of 11. Qf3 feels like a good response. Going through the deep line that calls it a blunder, ends with White having +1 Pawn, both Rooks, a Knight, and a dark square bishop vs. two Bishops and a Knight, and a Rook. I don't think the position it works out makes my Queen play a blunder, so I stand by my original play, though I can understand that it makes my position slightly weaker.
Now, the f6 play by my opponent was a very obvious blunder, and as soon as he played it I was looking for ways to catch his Queen. His Knight is still pinned to his King, and attacked two ways, my Knight isn't hung, so I know that it's position is safe, and even if his Queen takes my Knight, I can capture with my Queen, then move on to the Rook on A8.
12. Bx4 leaves him with no good plays, because even if he moves Qc5, I can just chase his Queen into submission over the next few moves, though that is probably what his best play was.
After I captured his Queen, he resigned. The lines from the game I finished against Lichess, using Stockfish Level 2 (1321 ELO average):
13. Nxd4 Rd8
14. Qc6+ Rd7
15. Nd5 Bb7
16. Nxc7+ Kd8
17. Qxb7 Rxd4 (mate in 3)
18. Qb8+ Nc8
19. Re8+ Kd7
So, I learned some things from this game. First, I learned that my opening sequence is fairly solid and my theory is sound for the Ruy Lopez. I understand the opening, and I don't typically make mistakes when playing it, and I haven't blundered during the Ruy Lopez since... well, a long time. My mid game needs work. While this opponent was weaker than me, I didn't play perfect, but it was a game I was proud of because I took advantage of my opponents mistakes.
Next post will be what I'm working on, but at the end of each post I'm going to post my ratings on both Chess.com and Lichess, and I'll talk about my ratings increase/decrease, but it will only be classical until I start playing more Blitz/Bullet activley and not just to train my brain:
Thanks for reading!