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This is a rated game I played today in Chessmaster: Grandmaster edition against a computer opponent. I'm not very familiar with the Caro Kann, and I just tried to play sound opening principles. I'm not sure why, but black really got a lot of pressure on my c2 pawn and really just on my 2nd and 3rd rank in general. I lost the game, and I would appreciate any insight into my key errors from anyone willing to contribute.
I don't normally play this line (4.Nc3) of the exchange caro, but here are my two cents on the general flow of the game.6.Qe2 : Why not Be2/Be3 and castle? Since your opponent is wastefully moving around with his queen (and losing tempo) , why must you do the same?7.Qd3 : See ... if 6.Be3 then now you could have played 7.Bd3 and you're making a mockery of his opening development.
13.c3 looks safer ... you're up a pawn so you should be figuring out the fastest way to castle.
14.Bd3 drops the pawn, when once again 14.c3 was completely fine.
20.Bb2 dropping a pawn seems necessary to get your pieces out...but think about why you are suffering this way...your not-fully-protected Knight on e3 is the cause. Fix the problem right there by doing something like Rc2+ and maybe then Bd2. I've lost a ton of games when my pieces start playing a game of twister with each other even when my position looks good. A good tip to note is that if you get a free check that un-tangles your pieces, take it!!!
21.Rc1 is what nailed the coffin for you. He not only wins a pawn, but skewers your rooks. See what I said about playing twister?
23.Rf2?? Bad to worse! Really no good reason to play this move given that he has Ng4 coming right up. Take the hit and merely play Kf1. Then after Bxd2 Rd1, you can get your rook to the 7th rank and still keep fighting.
24Rc2? + 25.Rxf2? : One common bad habit for improving players (it took me a while to stop doing this) is to trade pieces when you're clearly down. Ask yourself : is being a bishop vs. a rook BETTER than being a Bishop and a Rook vs a Bishop, Knight + rook?
Sure you can argue that if there are no pawns on the board, the bishop can draw the rook but with the majority of black pawns board (most of them will soon be on white squares so that your bishop is worthless!) it is a no-contest.
A strong NM who is helping me keeps telling me that as a general rule, your ability to fight for a draw in the endgame always decreases when you have fewer pieces on the board and increases with fewer pawns. You're just making his game simpler => and IT IS A FACT THAT => A better player can outplay you in simpler positions.
Right now after a move like 24.Re1 (let him have the rook) you could plan to fix your rook on his 7th rank and still keep fighting much better than you did for the rest of this game.
Hope this helps a bit! I'm no expert, but I'm fortunate to get yelled at regularly by a lot of experts for making the same kind of mistakes. :)
First off, thanks so much for your time and insight into my game. Looking back at the game myself, the 2 major problems I noticed are the 2 you noted. I just got lazy moving my rook to c1. I saw in-roads into black's camp on the 2 open c & d files and got sloppy. I moved right into that skewer. Then (as you keenly pointed out) I played on tilt and traded down even more material. I knew better than that.
I think you helped me realize something I didn't notice before. I knew during the opening (which i don't really know much about) that black was wasting tempos... but I couldn't figure out why I couldn't take advantage of it. You made it clear that I got too hasty bringing out my queen like i did to d2.
I learned a lot from this game, and that's all you can really hope for! Thanks again for your analysis.