Game Analysis Response
Excellent Post! Thank you so much for the analysis, Alex! I will try to add my own thoughts to make a huge and hopefully very informative post. Please check out Alex's very informative blog and blog post regarding this game! (http://blog.chess.com/Alex_Ding/game-analysis-3---kasiurak-vilenchuk)
****WARNING**** All of my following comments constitute my own personal opinion through hours and hours of my own analysis. I have not used a computer to confirm my claims. I am not a very strong player, but through rigorous analysis, I feel confident posting this information with few errors J!
Shortly addressing the opening (before you critical moment at move 8. …d5): Essentially, the opening is non-theoretical. Generally ...Bc5 and ...c6 are not combined and I was on my own on move 4. ...c6. The game takes on a position of a different opening like you mentioned.
A key moment certainly came on move 11. It is important to classify this position as you did. White certainly is stuck with an IQP. I believe Nxd5 was indeed a mistake, but how you analyzed it may have been oversimplified. (Not to say that your information regarding IQP and how to handle them isn’t EXTERMELY informative J)
Given this position from a typical Caro-Kann and the key position from my game.
It is important to note the similarities and differences between each position.
In both positions, white is certainly stuck with an IQP. However, the positions differ most noticeably by the amount of pieces. As Alex very correctly said, with fewer pieces the dynamic possibilities offered by extra space and lines of an IQP structure diminishes greatly. However, a key concept to note between each position is the control of the square directly in front of the isolated pawn. In the Panov diagram black has a stranglehold on d5. In my position after a well-timed Nf4, d5 becomes a real possibility! This would allow white to shed himself of his permanent weakness and also maintain his piece activity. Given this, I don’t think that this would be enough to guarantee an advantage, but this IQP structure does not have to be a permanent feature of my position.
Given this, my thought process behind 11. Nxd5 revolved around some key points.
- White’s pawn on d4 is in no danger as it is very well defended
- White will be able to dislodge the queen and have very good control of the d5 square
- Black’s bishop is misplaced and Black is less developed. I may STILL have dynamic possibilities even with so many pieces traded.
For these reasons I decided to go for 11. Nxd5.
Alex suggested 11. Ne4 as an alternative that seeks to maintain tension and make the bishop on b4 seem awkward. However, I don’t think giving up control on the d5 square is in White’s best interest.
That said, 11. Nxd5 was still probably a mistake J. Another continuation (such as 11. a3) maintains the tension and looks more promising as shown below.
Moving on to the next critical position. After a series of errors from black (14. …Qd6? and 15. …Nf6?), white wins a pawn and is forced to fend off black’s counterattack (Essentially what Alex says J). White is probably “much better” as black probably only has a fraction of the pawn worth of compensation.
Please read Alex’s comments on move 18-21 as I really have nothing to add to them. I will now focus on move 22. Be3. (I still think that Ng2 will be played at some point and both Qa6 and Ng2 are fine but this is not a huge argument)
On move 22, I took a while deciding on a move. 22. Be3 is obviously not a great move. I had been planning on 22. Ne3 (I did not see 22. Qd7! as suggested by Alex). However, in a practical sense, I don’t hate my move. Both 22. Ne3 and 22. Qd7! allow 22. …Nxf2!. Although a computer may immediately find a refutation or a huge advantage for black, at the board, I did not see enough to justify such unnecessary complications. (At least after 22. Ne3, 22. Qd7 is much easier to calculate) Even at home, I am not entirely convinced by my variations.
Following 22. …h5. Upon analysis, I was very happy I found the maneuver Qa6-c4. I think that this is the only real plan which tries to keep an advantage after missing 22. Qd7!. I have been working on my positional chess (regrouping!) and although it isn’t a very hard move to find, I was able to find it and calculate accurately during the pressure of a real game.
After 24. Qc4!, I am able to play h3 and fxe3. Although my pawns are weak on g3 and h3, I am able to gain a tempo with Rf1. This allows Rf3! which holds the whole position together.
After this psychological defeat (black no longer has counterplay and is probably down a full pawn if not more), black collapses immediately as mentioned by Alex with Rf6 and even further with Rxe3. However, although Rxe3 is objectively a blunder, both my opponent and I were in time trouble. It makes sense for black to radically change the position rather than play 30. …Kg7. Also, it is very hard to be sure that 31.Qa8+ is completely winning. Although …Rxe3 is technically a blunder as analyzed by Alex, it probably gives black the best practical chances to draw in time pressure.
I would like to thank Alex for his great work on his analysis! I hope through his analysis, my constructive criticism of his analysis, and my own analysis that the reader may learn something about IQP structures and this interesting position that resulted.
All questions and comments are encouraged! Please don't hestitate to post your thoughts!
All the Best!