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Our company has started up a (very casual) chess club at work after our Garry Kasparov visit (see thread at the bottom of the post).Here is one of the games I played today. I would appreciate some middlegame advice please as that is where I lost the plot!
Here is the first position I have a question on. I am honestly never sure what is the best way to go about this. Does one play a3, provoking Black's response and having him potentially give White the Bishop pair? Or does one play a normal developing move such as Bd3?
And here was the turning point in the game. I started a "lazy" calculation of 16. Bg5 (provoking Black's King-side position to start opening up) ..16. f6 17. Bh4 g5 and what I thought was a brilliant Qg3 move after that! Unfortunately my laziness in calculating Black's response cost me and I played the moves quickly without thinking much...
I tried best I can to identify the mistakes I made, but some advice from the stronger players would be much appreciated! Thank you all!
P.S. The player I played today was the player I knocked out of the company play-offs competition that won me the opportunity to play Garry Kasparov. I guess he was out for revenge and he got just that!
Black's opening sequence (2...Nf6) is known to be inaccurate, but 4...Nb6 makes things worse, in my opinion. Tarrasch once said that a knight is always misplaced on b3 or b6! This is an exaggeration, but I don't like that knight. As to your question on move seven, 7.Bd3 and 7.a3 seem just about equally good; after 7.Bd3 you can still play a3. After 7.a3, I think 7...Bd6 is probably better than 7...Bxc3.
When do you mean? When was 2...Nf6 played?
Good job analysing your game !
In the 1st position, I prefer 7.Bd3, because after a later e5, you'll get attacking chances against his king, and maybe an opportunity for a Greek gift sacrifice (Bxh7+ and Ng5). In those positions, the B on b4 sits as a spectator, while after 7.a3 you kick it back to a better square (Be7 for example, from where it defends against Ng5)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d5 is exactly the same as 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6
Is not exactly the same, since, according to you:
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d5?
1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6?
In the first case the inaccurate move is 2...d5, which is what it was played.
Black's opening sequence (2...Nf6) is known to be inaccurate, but 4...Nb6 makes things worse, in my opinion.
I agree with paulgottlieb's comments! and you did a good job analyzing yourself. But it's one thing to make an objectively wrong move, and a quite different thing to actually lose because of it. 2. ... Nf6 and 4. ... Nb6 aren't that bad! Maybe a GM won't play them, but I am pretty sure that up to around 1900-levels you will not be at a disadvantage. There is even a psychological _upside_ to such a move! a) You know it and like it, b) your opponent may underestimate you because you made a 'wrong' move, and c) your opponent may get sloppy, or frustrated because she/he doesn't find a proper answer OTB. Both of these often lead to mistakes on their part which are worse than the tiny theoretical disadvantage due to Nf6 and Nb6. I have tried this, and people have tried this trick on me, with considerable success - and one commenter said this even about you, that maybe the 'bad' move Nb6 could have unsettled you.
Sorry, I realize I wrote this talking about 'you' when it refers to your opponent - but I mean this just in a general sense, that some 'mistakes' really aren't that important - the one thing that really cost you was the Qg3 move, and even then you got 2 pawns for it, with a fighting chance.
Finally, in your analysis of 13. Qc3 b4, you did not have to play axb4 - you could just have smiled and moved the Queen away.
You have made good analysis of your game and it's a great example for other people posting on this forum.
As for the game itself, most has already been said. I too would propably go 7. Bd3: just develop without forcing things for the time being since later you may have more options like capturing c3 with rook (after eventual Rc1) or moving the knight (after breaking the pin with castling). Having said that your move should also be fine enough.
I kind of like 9. Qxc3. You could also play bxc3 but the centre is already strong enough and at c3 the queen helps to prevent black's possible freeing breaksc c5/e5 while also being ready to play along the open c-file or to witch to the kingsied (say Ne5+Qg3).
10. Bb5 doesn't look that horrible to me. You could argue that provoking c6 is good for white since black can't put a knight in c6 after that. However, you definitely should go 11. Bd3. 11. Bd3 would be also correct reply to 10... Bd7.
At move 13 Qc5/c3/c2 all look possible and probably each move has it pros and cons. It's not so easy to say which one is best without deeper analysis.
I find 13... Bb7 easy to understand: black protects c6 in order to move the knight. There's no better square visible for the bishop than b7 where it could become active should black manage to play c5.
Thank you for all the advice and kinds word everyone! Luckily I managed to hit back hard with Black today and won convincingly!
In the black game, 8. Bxd5 looks stronger to me. After Qxd5 Nc3, white wins back his piece. It's looking like a gambit line, but I think black still has the advantage.
And nice goal, you did take pawns instead of trying to simplify at all costs (I know a few players who is up a pawn, then try to simplify, overlooking they will lose the pawn or go into a drawn endgame)