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Modern Defense (continuing to learn from my losing streak)

  • #1

    Hi there! Earlier today I posted this thread about my recent losing streak of nine games over three days. @angrybirdstar and @Remellion gave me some good advice and notes on the game I posted, and suggested I take to the Chess Mentor and Tactics Trainer.

    That's what I did! I think it helped a lot, and it's forced me back into a more positional, considered mindset. So now I'm posting another game to consider what I learned. I'd really appreciate anyone's feedback! In particular, I want to know if my own annotations are sound, and if there really was a way to win the endgame after move 39.

  • #2

    Your king was way too far away at the end and you should have just brought your rook to the back rank, brought your king to protect your rook, and then planted your rook in front of the pawn.

  • #3

    So assuming White's Rook has time to hoover up my g- and h-pawns, do I offer a draw after capturing White's pawn?

  • #4

    I don't guarantee that any of my suggestions are sound (since I did not use/verified it with an engine). I only looked at short tactics for black which I intuitively found.

  • #5

    Thanks, SecretofMana! I like those improvements a lot.

  • #6

    I have some ideas for you:

    How about 3....c5 instead of Nc6?  It seems to be more in the spirit of busting white's pawns up.

    5th move, I'm thinking more of h5 to play N-h6-f5 and not get hit by g4 in return.  You also might get to play Bg4 with it in some variations.

    8th.  If Na5, 9.b4 and where does the N go?  I think you need to go "Karpov" here and play Nb8 and swing it back in the game via d7.

    10th.  If you don't want to trade Ns here, I think your only other try is Bg4.

    11th.  I really don't like e5.  Nf6 intending something like Bg4 and Qd7 and castling long seems better.

    16th.  There's an old saying in chess: "It's not safe to take the b-pawn, even when it's safe."  Don't worry about Qxb7.  I like Qf6 where white has a hard time going k-side, and your bishops are set to open up on him if he goes q-side.  16....Qf6; 17.Qxb7?, Rab8; 18.Qxc7, Rxb2 and white should be mated soon.  Even 16....a5 might be good here--if Qxb7, Rb8; if Qc4, a4 and white has problems finding shelter for the K; if Qb3, a4.  You are better developed and your K is safe--you should go for it.

    20th.  c4 was better here.  To get this going you need to play c4, Qa4, a5, then b4.  Probably like you, I didn't notice a6 was hanging until after Qxa6.

    23rd.  What's wrong with Ra8 followed by Rxa3?  I don't believe you are ready to block the LSB diagonal yet.  Bring the rooks in.

    27th.  I like Rf8 followed by Rb8+.

    32nd.  I think Rd3 was a better move.

    38th.  Rcxc4 is better.

    The position after move 39--I feel that if anyone wins this, it will be white.  White's K is very active, his pawn is far advanced, and your K is cut off by the R on the e-file.  I think your last chance was in clipping the c-pawn on move 38--after that black has no activity; white calls the shots.

    Just some ideas, and I'm sure they can be improved upon, but I was trying to give you an alternative to your chosen line of play, maybe open your mind a little.  I hope this helps.

  • #7

    I looked @ your thinking methods within the annotations, and I have to say there's quite a lot to fix.

    You focus a lot on vague things like "messing up my q-side" and "hole on f7",
    "going anywhere" and in every other comment. There also wasn't a single variation in the whole game, which is a problem since this game was competitive at many points.

    Clearly there is even a misunderstanding of the chess terminology as well, since we don't really refer to squares on rank 7 as "holes"(none of them are guarded by pawns ever), but that is not the main thing.

    I would focus with getting a basic positional understanding of chess and forget all of the terminology, as well as the vague thoughts. You need to be able to express all of your thoughts in terms of something concrete or a clear positional idea, usually with a plan for both sides. For example, on you note to move 3, you could have mentioned "white is gaining space but lags in development. His pawns could soon become targets in the center if he is not active enough. In the future I will use moves like ...d6 and ...f6 to break up the pawns and expose them as weaknesses..." something like that. Although @ move 3 commentating on the actual position is quite premature.

    Moreover, activity is the most important thing in chess (material and piece activity), and I'd take a look at that idea if I were you. You could explain almost anything in terms of activity, and if you focus each move on getting more activity, you'll only play the logical moves.

  • #8
  • #9

    Study more and play less.  Recent books on the Modern Defense include Norwood, a "games book" by Speelman, and a games book by Lakdawala.  Older texts include Soltis (1993), Black to Play and Win with 1)...g6.

    Reading them will greatly improve your play in this opening.  Talking with the hoi polloi probably won't.  Sorry.

    John Nunn, and Johan Hellsten, have written a number of great books to improve the other facets of your game.  Get with the program, and dive in.  Smile

  • #10
    zborg wrote:

    Study more and play less.  Recent books on the Modern Defense include Norwood, and Speelman, and a games books by Lakdawala.  Older texts include Soltis, Winning with 1)...g6.

    Reading them will greatly improve your play in this opening.  Talking with the hoi polloi probably won't.  Sorry.

    John Nunn, and Johan Hellsten, have written a number of great books to improve the other facets of your game.  Get with the program, and dive in.  

    I honestly think that most of John nunn's books are too advanced for anyone under 2000 FIDE. And to improve play in this opening, just improve play in general (at this level), since there is so much to improve on.

  • #11

    Paul Littlewood, Chess Tactics (1993), and Jeremy Silman, Essential Chess Endings Explained Move by Move, (1992), gives you USCF Class B, chess knowledge.

    Next stop is Understanding Chess Middlegames, and Understanding Chess Endgames, by John Nunn.  These are his short, intermediate level books. Gives you USCF Class A, chess knowledge.  And then some.

    After that, the sky is the limit.  Assuming you have lots of time to devote.  Laughing

  • #12

    Sorry I can only use words, not diagrams to express what I say. Just that diagrams are hard to do, take a while, and lately have not been working for me, so hard work just goes to waste.

  • #13

    3...Nc6 - not great but not a mistake. 3...d6/c5 is normal. 3...Nc6 4. d5? Nxe5.

    5...f6 - Horrendous, but your opponent missed it. 5...f6? 6. d5 Nb8 7. e6 and white has a crushing position. The issue is the e6 square, not f7. When advancing pawns, the holes created are not the squares they vacate but those they no longer control. 5...a6 is usual, with queenside expansion.

    8...exf4 - not a mistake, a good move! It wins a pawn with little danger, your king can castle rapidly.

    11...e5 is dangerous, leading to a position I wouldn't touch as black after 11...e5 12. dxe6 e.p. Bxe6 13. Qxb7!? Rb8 14. Qxa6 Rxb2!? 15. Bb5+ Kf8!? 16. 0-0 Bxc3 with chaos that's probably worse for black. Just play the safe 11...Nf6 and ...0-0.

    14...Nxd5 and 14...Nh5 are indeed better choices, but your move is also OK, just not as advantageous as the other two.

    16...Rb8 doesn't save the pawn after 17. Ba7 Ra8 18. Qxb7, but that's not really important. I prefer 16...c5 17. dxc6 e.p. bxc6 which is safe, removes white's irritating d5-pawn and mobilises your pawns. SecretOfMana's 16...Bc2 runs into 17. Kd2 and castling by hand, but I wouldn't want to take white's position in any case.

    17...c5 hangs a pawn; 17...c5 18. dxc6 e.p. bxc6 19. Qxd6 (the d-rook is now open!) although with so many open lines it's hard for white to defend.

    20...b4! is a strong move, not a weak one! It's a normal way to crack open white's queenside formation here, and opens lines against the king. What's a pawn when you have such a strong attack?

    23...e4? gives up the attack by blocking your light bishop's diagonal. Try 23...Rb1+ 24. Kd2 Rb2+ 25. Ke1 (25. Kc1 Rfb8 is strong) Ra8 and white's falling apart.

    26...Rxa3 threatening c3 is stronger; 26...Rxa3 27. fxg6 Rxc3+ 28. Kd2 hxg6 29. Rhg1 (for instance) Rf3 is unpleasant for white.

    Then there are more improvements so I'll just list them out. 27...Rf3, 36...Rf4, 38...Rcxc4, 41...h5, 47...g3. After move 48 you're lost.


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