Now From the Other Side!
This week, a similar French to my last game, but this time from the Black side - it definitely helped to have some of the ideas from last week in mind, especially Dragan's Qb6. In fact, I got an early advantage in exactly the same way as I lost it last week, by attacking d4.
The game didn't go perfectly, as I missed a couple of important moves. First, losing castling rights by missing a check, and later two weakening pawn moves. But my opponent was playing very slowly and carefully - in the end, time management probably decided the game. With my King caught out in the center, I struggled to defend and keep him safe long enough to capitalize on the two pawns I grabbed around the end of the opening.
White had the important tactical threat of a pin on the d-file after 19.Rd1 d4?? but I managed to keep both monarchs safe. I liked my chances of survival better after trading queens, but Eli refused the trade more than once, each time using up a lot of clock. By 25...Qc2 he was down to only a few minutes, but managed to sneak his own Queen behind my pawns and win a pawn after my terrible 31...Rf8?? failing to defend the weak e5. But he had less than 30s to settle on his move 33 and played Rxd4 with time running out, missing the back rank mate.
I think I can feel good about my opening play, absorbing and applying last week's lessons, as well as managing to defend my exposed king. My big takeaways are to be conscious of threats like 13.Bb5+; then recognizing that although f6 is a common way of opening the file in the French, it was a bad move in this game, stranding the king in the center; and to be conscious of how weak pawns like e5 will become targets.