Below is an annotated game which I lost - please leave your comments - negative as well as positive.
If you teach me how - I have no income, no chess books and no premium membership :)
i agree, play the sicilian, especially the tiamanov or kan sicilian. ill play some of those games with you unrated if you want, we could fool around with some of the opening theory... but otherwise its always good to post a loss. you learn more from a loss than a win.
Would be good... after I finish my homework.
If you want to stay relevant to the game you played, study up on Two Knights Defense and also Giuoco Pianissimo.
As for individual motifs, I think it's generally not a good idea to give up a bishop pair so early if it doesn't modify the position in your favor. White had a perfectly good replacement knight in case of capture, and your position was worse off in the exchange, particularly in terms of piece activity.
Compare your dark square bishop to your opponent's after 9.Nxf3, and you'll understand what I'm saying. White was looking very active, and ready to throw down at that point. Meanwhile, it probably would've been best to castle from there, since all was not lost. You had two knights in ideal squares, so that was good.
The correction for me would've been 8.Bh5, and if 9.g4, then 9.Bg6, with a possible outpost on h7. This bishop will be ready and waiting for when the center opens up.
As for individual moves:
I really didn't like 11.Qd6. Tying down your queen to the defense of a pawn is often a liability. 11.O-O would've been solid conservative move. That queen became a weakness when the d file opened up.
Everything else I suppose you can chalk up to a blunder that cost you your knight, unless someone stronger can point out something else :)
Forget about spending time in openings (in my opinion in your level just train yourself in tactics and endgame if you have some time to invest in chess).
In this game you did OK in the opening, but the idea you wrote about castling queenside I don´t think is right, just castle short and the position is fine. Also, you give up your bishop pair and then play d5 opening the center with your king in the middle, usually not good idea. Keep it simply: castling before open the position is the right way in general.
After that, losing the f7 pawn is probably helping you, but with kings in opposite sides, just play g5-g4 and open up lines, don´t waste times with Nb6, Rf8 or Qxd3-Qd6... White place the rooks on active squares and you don´t, and this allowed tactics for him (Nxe5)
Even the position wasn´t easy to play for you, you did it quite well until the end. Keep checking your own games and try not to learn from them.
As others have noted, Bxf3 is problematic. In the long run, two bishops vs. less than two bishops is good for your opponent, even if the minor piece total is even.
More to the point, look at the position before your seventh move, and then look at it after your ninth move. Everything's the same except your bishop disappeared, his knight disappeared, and he's gotten h3 in, which I think is useful for him here. You basically gave him h3 for free. It's frequently not a good idea to develop with the sole intent of trading, unless you are trading off a piece that isn't going to do much for you (and this bishop had a lot of potential) for a piece that was doing a lot (and his knight wasn't, it was mostly tripping over the other knight).
I don't see much problem with castling long there, it looks reasonable.
Once you've done that though, you've made your plan clear: attack on the kingside. Obviously, dropping a pawn with Nb6 is a problem, but it bothers me less that it drops a pawn and more that the knight doesn't belong on b6. That's going in the opposite direction of where you need to be focusing your pieces. Similarly, 16. ... Bd6 is much better than Bf6. From d6, it influences an important kingside diagonal.
After that, leaving your queen exposed to a discovered attack by the rook just got you rolled tactically. You had big problems because the knight was so miserably placed on b6.
Honestly, I thought white did you a nice favor by exposing his king like that rolling the kingside pawns. If you hadn't dropped material, he was giving you a ton of counterplay.
Win or lose, you're still a fancy violin!
I'm up fur a game, I'm easy to beat and I'm sure you could use a spare bit of catgut in case a string brrreaks mrrrow?