Latest loss in OTB 90/30 game


Hi all,


Here is my latest game which I would like to share with you and would be glad for any analysis and suggestions on how I could improve my game. I was Black and lost against a 1300 player (I am 1100).



In the end I had less than 2 minutes on my clock.. The moves I lost too much time on was 11Re8 (28 minutes!, because I was afraid of the Bishop sacrifice at h6 and was thinking to play either g5 or Kh7) and 12 Qc7 (16 minutes!, because I was thinking too much of playing Qb6 attacking the b2 pawn but eventually I was seeing it was not working).

After the game with the help of the engine I see that on move 17 I should play the break c5 (and not e5), as I understand in order to keep the pawn chain at the kingside intact. Also in move 18 I did not even consider Nd5 (there I would also attack the Bishop and the Knight would also be protected). Also in move 21 Bxa7 I did not even think of him taking the pawn (most probably due to the time issues, but also I tend to forget such vulnerabilities in middlegame to endgame phase).


In a Caro-Kann pawn structure white has a 4 - 3 queenside pawn majority.  17.e5 was the correct pawn break, as it eliminates whites queenside pawn majority.  If you had played 17.c5, white would have traded down to a 3 - 2 pawn majority, which helps make it easier to create a passed pawn in the endgame.  Obviously this is not a hard and fast rule, but "generally" the ...e5 pawn break is preferred for the reasons i mentioned.

After reading what mickynj rote, i had to come back and add that i am in total agreement with his comment.  Considering the rating you said you have, you played very well.


I thought you played quite well until you collapsed at the end. I assume time trouble had something to do with it. 

18...e4! or 18...Nd5! were both quite good. I think you had a clear advantage after either move. I don't see what your doing with 20...Nf6. Weren't 20...c5 or 20....Nc5 quite a bit better? 21...Qa5 was just a blunder, but you already knew that


Thank you both for your comments and kind words. To be precise my rating is 1073 (FIDE) and this is after playing several games during 2018 so it is quite accurate. 

I have heard too many times that I play somewhat better than that but the results certainly prove otherwise. 

The thing is that I often play well for 20-25 moves and then during the final phases of middlegame or early endgame (I rarely reach an ending itself!) I make significant blunders similar to what you see in the posted game. 

If I had to name some reasons for that, I would attribute it to low experience, loss of concentration and certainly time management problems (again like those presented here).


You mentioned that you spent a lot of time being worried about White's Bxh6 ideas.

In this game, taking on h6 for White is equivalent to resignation, as he doesn't have nearly enough pieces in the attack to make it dangerous.

However, just ignoring it can be difficult, so I really like your move Re8!

The hidden point is that if White takes twice on h6, Black has the maneuver Bf8-g7, and White DEFINITELY doesn't have an attack.

And Re8 is MUCH better than Kh7 (because it actually does something) and g5?????? (because that opens your king enough to make White's ghost attack real!)

Focus on spending only a little bit of time in quiet positions, making good moves instead of fantastic ones. Then you should have enough time left for the endgames and critical moments.


Thank you very much ChessicallyInclined, your comment on thinking about this threat is really helpful!


Hi tilletois, I don't know what others have written but 19. ... ed evidently just loses. All of a sudden, white's B is dominant. Therefore we should look at the preceding move, 18. ...Ne4. At first sight it may look aggressive but it blocks your e-pawn, which is blocking your own B and therefore might want to go to e4 with gain of tempo on the N. So you should have tried for a smaller advantage ..... namely, Nd5 instead, with the option of removing white's B and playing e5-e4 in order to play on the dark squares with your Q and B, when maybe you would have been better instead of lost, as you probably were after the text moves.

Before that, maybe you didn't play as some others might but nevertheless, your play was solid, sound and correct. Then you lost because you didn't see the consequences of 18 ...Ne4 and 19 ...ed. Hope that is some help.


PS, playing h6 wasn't actually necessary as you could retreat the B to g6 and recapture with the h-pawn if necessary. This creates a solid mass of pawns and often some interesting play. So if you find yourself spending too much time looking at the consequences of Bxh6, just don't play h6 until you are able to assess the dangers of the weaknesses that h6 creates quickly and accurately. Personally, although I like to play the Caro, I find the Kan Sicilian (or the French) much, much more solid and the Kan allows far better scope for black to win than the Caro does.


Hi Optimissed,


Thank you for highlighting the strategic mistakes of the moves 18 and 19, I really appreciate it. I was a little bit skeptical in playing e4 because I thought that the pawn would be far away than the rest of my army and probably lose it for this reason.

The h6 move is quite standard in the lines I am playing, because the light squared bishop is in my opinion quite a favorable piece to exchange with a knight. But its helpful that you point out the disadvantage of this move leading to a long thinking procedure regarding the attacking sacrifice of white at h6.


This may help with your thought process (and it really helped mine): "There is a difference between thinking and worrying."  When you spend 10+ minutes on certain moves, are you actually thinking critically, analyzing possibilities, going over strategic concepts ... or are you just going over the same possible line over and over again because something might happen?

I remember spending so much time worrying about my opponent's possible replies ... and how rarely those replies actually showed up!  When I cut my 'worry' time down, my results improved simply because I had more time and more energy, and I also spent more time on my potential ideas, rather than my opponent's random ones.

Of course, we need a sense of danger, and we don't want to ignore our opponent's potential threats, but we also don't need to spend 30min making our 12th move in a calm position.  Try to make sure you are thinking, not simply worrying, and see if that helps.  You played well, and if you can improve your time management your results should soon reflect that.




SmithyQ thank you very much for pointing out the importance of mentality in order to improve, this is really helpful.


LuckyDan74 taking time to annotate my game is highly aprpeciated. On 20... Nf6 I had less than a minute on my clock so partly due to time pressure I did not see at all that my a7 pawn was under threat. My intention for going back under these circumstances was to reorganize my pieces and play it safe.


I see that 10...h6 and 20...Nf6 are funky. Everything else looks solid.


As things  actually stand, 20. Nf6 is the losing move. Your N is doing a good job and commanding a lot of squares at e4.  You need to defend your a-pawn, so b6 or c5 look obvious. You have to be careful of pawn weaknesses on the q-side so I would prefer b6, even though the pawn on c5 can be moved to c4, hitting the Q. But then, white will turn his attention to attacking pawn weaknesses on the Q-side. As things stand, after ... b6, white should probably attempt to attack the K-side.  So 21. Nh4 looks like a reasonable way to probe for weaknesses, with a view to Nf5. If I were white I would hope that I could create useful threats and I would try to avoid the B being swapped off. I think the position is more drawish than I previously thought but I do think that black had an advantage and gave it away and that white has the better chances after 19 .... c4 20. Bxd4. Maybe one of the stronger players would care to comment.


Your biggest problem was time management. But the reason for your poor time management is that you thought to long on unnatural possibilities. The best ways to cure this is A) work on tactics and calculation. Use tactics trainer and read Yasser Seirawans winning chess tactics are good for <1400 players. B) Also try to play through master games asking yourself what other ideas look dangerous and then try to find out why they were not played. When i work with weaker playuers>1600 they like you were scared of scary moves. i was glad to see you neglected them but fell for a simpl blunder at end. also dropping a7 was pretty bad but I have met players over 1700 who have made the same mistake. Tactics and calculation is your biggest problem but you clearly have a good talent for the game