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I recently reached this position, as black, in a rapid game. Houdini said it was dead equal, but I thought it was white who had all the play.
1.Earlier in the game, white played a unambitious opening and threw away both bishops for knights...yet all Houdini can show for black is a forcing draw line?
2.How could my push of the a-pawn possibly be the correct idea? After a3, I don't know how I can ever hope to do anything on the queenside. White holds the b-pawn easily.
3. In the final position, I played ...f6?? And quickly lost - I saw it as my only active chance though. Houdini gave all these continuations where it shuffles pieces around and plays ...Kh8 and ...Kg8, but it all seems very computerized to me. Is the only real "plan" black has is to sit by, defend, and pray for a draw?
Just frusterated, because I feel like I played a very logical opening, but never got anything going on the queenside
well basically you saw two foxes dancing in the praire lying peacfully,nuzzling each as the grass blew wistfully under the autumn sun and you thought ohhh its so peaceful... so thus you played passively during this game, no other explanation
I saw 24...Qb6, and it was my original intention, but after 25. Ree2, the b-pawn is defended forever, and white can continue his kingside attack. I don't know, maybe I just play ...Kh8 at some point and wait for him like Houdini says, and maybe that is "equal," but it seems like something no human would do - I need some form of activity, and the queenside looks dead, right?
Yes, I know that 24...f6 was a mistake, but after 24...Qb6, what can I hope to achieve on the queenside? Doesn't white take one move to defend it, and then just keep the attack going? I feel like I have to be worse at any rate, which is what confuses me - what did I do to become "worse?"
How did I end up this passive?
Tartakower Queen Bishop Line
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5
You asked in the title to your post: How did I end up this passive?
4...Bf5 (Black's plan with this move is to secure a draw)
The answer is: 4...Bf5 is the last aggressive move Black will make in this variation for some time. For the next several moves he is more likely to be getting his house in order by completing his development and meeting White's threats. A thankless task, it seems--until move 12 or so. Then the burden shifts to White, who has to find a plan. Black is trying only to equalize the chances, not to gain the advantage. Of course, he will happily exploit any error White may commit. But when a player adopts 4...Bf5 it is usually to avoid losing rather than to win at any cost (to secure a draw.)
I have been playing the Caro-Kann for many years as a drawing weapon. I use it against 1.e4 or 1.d4. when I have Black in a USCR rated over the board tournament, and am paired against the highest rated player, ususally the strongest player in my section; and my score is 2-0 or 3-0 on the standings board. By securing a draw I can stay with the leaders, and assure myself a chance to win the tournament, and be in the money. Many a tournament I have played, where I have nicked a higher rated player for 1/2 point and sometimes even a full point.
3.Nd2 (White's plan with this move is the finesse that appeals to players who fear 3.Nc3 g6, a variation of the Modern Defense) After 3.Nd2 Black is less likely to play 3...g6, since 4.Bd3 Bg7 5.c3! sets up a barrier of pawns on the a1-h8 diagonal, blocking Black's fianchettoed King B.)
Similarly in the French Defense, White tries to avoid the Winawer Variation, or as I like to spell and pronounce it the (Win-a-war) by playing 3.Nd2. After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2. When White plays 3.Nd2 he transposes the game into the Rubinstein Variation.