I think re-reading Chernev's Logical Chess (or whatever it's called) where he keeps hammering in the idea that masters do not play for combinations etc., only according to well established chess principles and the combinations happen by themselves, has really helped my game.
In the following game I spent aroubnd 10 min on the opening, really thinking through each move and that gave me a strong advantage. Towards the end I didn't necessarily look for the best move as the game was anyway already won.
Your opponent left book with 5.h3?! ... seems like a wasted tempo to me.
I very much liked 15...Qg6! I've read more than one instructor urging their students to develop a "target" mentality and to play moves with "force"... and 15...Qg6 is exactly that kind of move.
I liked his 18.Kd2... your queen might have easily gotten into some trouble from threats down that half open g-file now. I often wonder if it's worth it to win a g-pawn when it opens a file for the enemy rooks against my castled king... it seems like handing the enemy instant attacking plans... but your opponent failed to pursue this with energy and you kept the initiative with moves like 18...d4!?
I really wonder what A) an engine says about 18...d4, and B) what a strong player says about it. It's probably the move of the game, or else a mistake! Sacing a pawn to leave his king in uncomfortable water in the middle of the board... the more I think about it the better it looks... but going thru the game I hated it. (As a player I'm always looking to squeeze, and 18...d4 does not squeeze; it's slash and burn.)
From here it gets tactical and my hunch is you missed an opportunity or two but I can't find anything solid.
21...Qd5!? (it's probably the best move -- but I keep looking for more here... I thought 21....Qf3 was an improvement but after 22.Qg3 I don't think so.)
24...Rfd8?!... he let you off the hook with 25.Rc1? Did you evaluate 25.Bxf6! I don't know if it saves white's bacon but the position certainly get VERY sharp.
After 25.Rc1 the game is effectively over IMO.
Very nicely done.
Nice game! I believe the biggest problem for white was not castling when it could. The king in the center with open and semi-open files is very hard for black.
I think d4 was the best move, perhaps even a '!'. The pawn sac was really only for a short time as white couldn't protect the d3 pawn. Bxf6 loses as black has some heavy artillery directed towards white's king.
Here are some variations, including the ones you suggested:
After 5. ... Nd4 what would you do after 6. Nxe5
Nxb5 winning a bishop for a pawn.
Well done then!
@Meilan1 -- In the 25.Bxf6 analysis: 25...Rc2+! wow! Tactics on demand. Beautiful. I can guarantee your opponent did not decide to play Rc1 because he looked at Bxf6 and saw that 25...Rc2+ refuted it! The 25.Bxf6 Rc2+! 27.Kxc2 line would have made for a stylish finish indeed.
I suspect you're right about d4. It's the kind of move I need to learn to see, and to play. I can do it in correspondence... but live, no way, I'm chicken.
*edit* well after quickly looking this over with an engine you played a remarkably strong game. Fritz liked 12...Qxb2 better than your move. That's about it.
DroidFish preferred 23...Qa5+ but did agree with me entirely in the opening. It is as I said (paraphrasing Chernev), "The master doesn't look for combinations, he plays each piece to its best place and the combinations appear by themselves."
The opening took me around 10 minutes and it was my luck that my opponent played familiar moves.
A very nice game, congratulations!
Hi Meilan1. I looked at your game and my comment is. If you look at the board right after move 12, absolutely all your pawns and pieces are defended by other pawns and pieces, all of them! On the other side of the board if you look at white pieces two pawns and one bishop are not defended. Thus your skewer worked. I think white should have castle earlier, move 9 maybe, but not sure if it would have help much. You played pretty sharp. Congrats.