In my ‘Posts’ section I cover what steps I am taking to improve my chess. One aspect of improvement is deeper care with each move and that means analysing candidate moves and steering the game towards positions that suit my style. I thought that I would create a new heading called ‘Analysis’ where I would play a game with someone who was rated higher than me and explain how I approach the game. I would love to use one of my postal games, or ICCF games, or scheming mind games (in that order) but the pace of these games may mean very slow blogging progress. Instead I put out a search on chess.com for a 3 day a move game which I will play carefully as though it were a postal game. My search had to include someone with my own online rating, which was 1560 at the time, so I sought a player rated between 1560 and 2000. The challenge was taken up by a player from Jordan who has an online correspondence rating of 1580. On the minus side he has a much higher blitz rating than me but on the plus side he is currently playing 14 three day online games and I can’t imagine that he could give the attention he should be giving to each game.
1. FIRST MOVES
In retrospect I’m not sure that playing 2. …c5 was a good idea. The move 3. d5 is awkward for my style of play. It cramps up my opening and gives white more space. It was something I saw in my own analysis and it showed even play in explorer but its only after commiting to …c5 that its full horror becomes apparent. I didn’t put in enough thought. Luckily white played
3. POOR CANDIDATE CONSIDERATION
I carried out the same process again, listing candidate moves, choosing those that looked best and double checking them. The candidate moves I listed are on the left hand side of the sheet above and are lettered a – i. From those I chose to look at a), c) and i) and was most keen on i) …Bf5 because it releases the bishop prior to playing e6 (which blocks that bishop). I also couldn’t see any immediate threats though I was wary that a pawn storm on my king side might be unpleasant, especially if I did close off the bishop’s escape by later playing e6. So having made my choice at this stage I checked the Games Explorer.
And what dissappointment, in the 9 candidate moves I chose I missed the statistical number 3 move of Qb6! I also missed cxd4 which was the fourth choice! And Bg4 being the 5th most popular choice by masters! Horrific that I missed these and I think this is a symptom of how quickly I play at an early stage of the game. I can excuse myself for cxd4 since I wouldn’t naturally like to open up the play this early as black but the two other suggestions are good and I should have at least listed them.
The choice I made …Bf5 shows it was played, in this order, by one player rated 2308 who lost against another rated 2521 in 2006, that game went on for 31 moves so it would be playable. When I played it on games explorer it opened up to four players, having played it via a different sequence. Three of them played c3 and one playing Nc3 all of which seem playable and perhaps I should have stuck to my guns. Instead I got spooked and I chose my second canditate choice, choice c) being …
4. CANDIDATE MISERY
So I thought I would try to list all the candidate moves (within reason) and see whether I would be in line with master level players. On the left I have listed all the candidate moves I liked then narrowed them down to choices a) – e) from that point I initially chose Qb6. How would my thinking compare to that of master players? Well fairly poorly. From the position I’m in I found only two moves listed, they were Qa5+ (listed in three games) and cxd4 (in a candidates tournament between Gata Kamsky and Boris Gelfand – both rated over 2700 ELO http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1462323 ). I didn’t even list cxd4 in my original list of 10 candidate moves! I now recognise that I am averse to swapping off pawns before I am comfortable with how my pieces are developed and this seems to be a flaw of my game. The other move Qa5+ I dismissed early and didn’t have it on my shortlist because Nc3 shuts it down and it seems like a wasted move. Again this kind of thinking is a flaw because the whites pinned knight can be a liability for white and I should be looking beyond the ‘this shuts down that move’ thinking. My next move can be Ne4 and then it looks like white will have a bit of pressure on their knight although there is nothing clear.I have chosen
Qa5+ because I want to explore this forced line a bit more.
INTERLUDE 1: THE BIG PICTURE (not my game)
I have been looking for candidate moves and double checking them with a game explorer. When narrowing the list of candidate moves down I use intuition to help. Coincidentally I found this excerpt by on the Chesskids page http://www.chesskids.com.au/author/robert-jamieson/ (puzzle 220). It highlights the dangers of following sensible candidate moves without looking at the big picture. An excerpt of this page reads:
“D seemed to be coasting along a pawn ahead in a nice position where his opponent was not threatening anything…
My question for my students, when I showed them this position, was what move would they make and what candidate moves did they look at? Almost all of them wanted to threaten something – a knight, a pawn, Black’s King, although a few wanted to push a passed pawn. They had analysed a few moves deep in making their final decision. I think D did a similar thing. He decided to play Rd1 which attacked a knight and forced a brief tactical sequence. Over the next few moves however the balance of the position changed. Suddenly Black had an attacking knight on f4 and both his rooks came into the game by attacking the white Queen. Meanwhile D still had a rook out of play on a3 and a knight also away from the action on b5. When Black brought his Queen into play on e5 it was all over. D’s King was attacked by too many Black pieces and was overwhelmed.
Why, I pondered to myself, had White lost from what appeared to be a better position? My answer was that he had chosen his move based on analysis and had neglected the “big picture”. I’m the exact opposite. I don’t like to analyse as it’s too much like hard work for an old mind, so I try to make my moves based on what is happening in the position. If D had looked at the big picture he would have realised that his rook on a3 was totally out of play. A simple move like Ra2, activating the rook, would have given White a better position with no risk involved.
So that was my message to my students today. Don’t just analyse to chose your moves. Look at the “big picture” as well
INTERLUDE 2: THE OPENING
I’ve only just discovered that the opening of this game is not unknown. The move order was a little strange on my behalf by moving 2. …c5 which doesn’t seem to be popular and which I wasn’t happy with. I suspect it came from my history of playing the Sicilian. The opening falls under the London System which Wikipedea describe as such:
The London System is a complex of related chess opening that begin with 1.d4 followed by an early Bf4. It comprises a smaller body of opening theory than many other openings and normally results in a closed game. Sverre Johnsen and Vlatko Kovacevik, in the introduction to their 2005 book Win with the London System, state:
Basically the London is a set of solid lines where after 1.d4 White quickly develops his dark-squared bishop to f4 and normally bolsters his centre with [pawns on] c3 and e3 rather than expanding. Although it has the potential for a quick kingside attack, the white forces are generally flexible enough to engage in a battle anywhere on the board. Historically it developed into a system mainly from three variations:
- 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4
- 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4
- 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4
A video explaining the system I found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtBMFWuwv1E it includes a nice game for white. As an aside, I find that most videos err toward success for white.
Since discovering that my game is related to an opening I have looked at other videos and some notable games. This helps me understand that white’s strategy is to have a strong flexible centre from which it can attack. It is sometimes used as an anti Indian Game system allowing white to pawn storm towards a castled black king.
5. FORCED-ISH MOVES.
6. A FEW MOVES LATER.
It will be embarrassing if I lose having posted this.
7. GAME ENDS
The game continued and I became complacent. Instead of doing a thorough analysis of each position as it happened I played in a blitz way and what should have been a win shortly after move 29 became a win at move 37 by resignation. The game continued:
POST GAME ANALYSIS – NO COMPUTER.
The game is finished. In a way I’m dissapointed. It moved from an opening that I could follow from past games (although I did try to come up with my own moves), to a domineering position that I could be relaxed about, without much of a middlegame that required skillfull, original, tactical and positional play. Perhaps I should have moved away from past games earlier by taking more unorthodox choices.
That aside it is now time for me to review the game methodically. At this stage I don’t want to use a computer because learning is about finding out rather than being told. The game went:
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 (c5) 3.Nf3 d5 4.e3 (Nc6) 5.Bb5 Qa5+ 6.Nc3 Ne4 7.Bxc6+ bxc6 8.O-O Nxc3 9.bxc3 Qxc3 10.Ne5 cxd4 11.exd4 Bf5 12.Rc1 e6 (13.h4) Ba3 (14.Qd2) Qxd2 15.Bxd2 Bxc1 16.Rxc1 Rc8 17.Bb4 f6 18.Nf3 Kf7 (19.Bc5) Rb8 20.Bxa7 Rb2 21.c3 Ra8 22.Bc5 Raxa2 23.c4 Rxf2 24.cxd5 Rxg2+ 25.Kh1 Be4 26.dxe6+ Kxe6 27.Re1 Kd5 (28.Rxe4) Kxe4 29.Ne1 (Rh2+) 30.Kg1 Rhe2 31.Kf1 Ke3 32.d5+ Ke4 33.d6 Red2 34.Bb4 Rd1 35.h5 h6 36.Kg1 f5 37.Kf1 f4 0-1
I have highlighted positions, for both colours, that I feel may not have been good. I have done this by putting the moves in parenthesis.
The first highlighted move is move 2. …c5, this has been played in high level games so I have to assume that is isn’t bad but I did feel unconfortable with a potential white reply d5 followed by white supporting the d pawn with their c or e pawns. This would cramp up my position and allow them good freedom.
4. …Nc6 I have highlighted not because it is a bad move (it worked well in this case) but because a safer, more normal move would be e6 allowing the bishop to develop. In a way I was lucky Nc6 because I didn’t forsee the forcing moves that come along once white tries to pin the knight with their bishop. This shows the importance of learning about openings and analysing deeply.
13.h4 to me seems like an overly slow and weak move. I am building up considerable pressure against white and their focus should have been on my attack. Nf3, Re1, Qd2 or Be3 seem stronger to me. All with a view to swapping off pieces and neutralising the attack.
14.Qd2 Too late to swap off queens because the exchange is on. Much better to lose a pawn and save the rook. A blunder in my view.
The move 19 Bc5 opens up the b file for my rooks and taking the pawn only allows a recapture of the white pawn on a2. Much better would be c3 to protect the bishop and close a file.
28. Rxe4 another exchange virtually guarantees a black win.
And lastly 29. …Rh2 misses Rhe2.
WHAT THE COMPUTER SAYS
Computer Analysis (~2500 strength)
Inaccuracies: 3 = 8.3% of moves
Mistakes: 6 = 16.7% of moves
1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 c5 3. Nf3 d5?!
( 3… cxd4 4. c3 dxc3 5. Nxc3 d6 6. Bg5 Nc6 7. e4 )
( 3… d5 4. e3 Qb6 5. b3 Bg4 6. Be2 Nc6 7. c3 )
4. e3 Nc6 5. Bb5 Qa5+ 6. Nc3 Ne4 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. O-O Nxc3 9. bxc3 Qxc3 10. Ne5 cxd4 11. exd4 Bf5 12. Rc1 e6?!
( 12… f6 13. Nf3 h5 14. Qe2 h4 15. Bd2 Qc4 16. Qxc4 )
( 12… e6 13. Re1 Rc8 14. Re3 Qa5 15. g4 Be4 16. f3 )
( 13. g4 Be4 14. Re1 Rc8 15. Re3 Qa5 16. f3 Bg6 )
( 13. h4 f6 14. Nf3 Ba3 15. Qe1 Qxe1 16. Rcxe1 O-O )
13… Ba3 14. Qd2 Qxd2 15. Bxd2 Bxc1 16. Rxc1 Rc8 17. Bb4 f6 18. Nf3 Kf7 19. Bc5 Rb8 20. Bxa7 Rb2?!
( 20… Ra8 21. Bc5 Rxa2 22. Rb1 Bxc2 23. Rb6 Be4 24. Rb7+ )
( 20… Rb2 21. a3 Ra8 22. Bc5 Rxc2 23. Rxc2 Bxc2 24. Ne1 )
( 21. a3 Rxc2 22. Rxc2 Bxc2 23. Bc5 Ra8 24. Ne1 Bg6 )
( 21. c3 Ra8 22. Bc5 Raxa2 23. Ne1 Rxf2 24. c4 Be4 )
21… Ra8 22. Bc5 Raxa2 23. c4 Rxf2 24. cxd5??
( 24. Ne1 Be4 25. cxd5 cxd5 26. Bd6 Bxg2 27. Nd3 Rfc2 )
( 24. cxd5 Rxg2+ 25. Kh1 cxd5 26. Rf1 Be4 27. Bd6 Raf2 )
24… Rxg2+ 25. Kh1 Be4 26. dxe6+ Kxe6?
( 26… Ke8 27. Rc3 Rg3 28. d5 Bxf3+ 29. Rxf3 Rxf3 30. dxc6 )
( 26… Kxe6 27. Re1 Kd5 28. Re3 Rg3 29. Rxe4 Kxe4 30. Ne1 )
27. Re1 Kd5 28. Rxe4 Kxe4 29. Ne1 Rh2+?
( 29… Rge2 30. Bb4 Kxd4 31. Nf3+ Ke4 32. Ne1 c5 33. Bc3 )
( 29… Rh2+ 30. Kg1 Rxh4 31. Bb4 Rg4+ 32. Kh1 Kxd4 33. Bf8 )
30. Kg1 Rhe2?
( 30… Rxh4 31. Bb4 Rg4+ 32. Kh1 Kxd4 33. Bf8 Ra1 34. Bb4 )
( 30… Rhe2 31. Bb4 Kxd4 32. Kf1 c5 33. Ba5 Re3 34. Bc7 )
31. Kf1 Ke3?
( 31… Rf2+ 32. Kg1 Rh2 33. Ba3 Rh3 34. Bc5 Rxh4 35. Bb4 )
( 31… Ke3 32. d5+ Ke4 33. dxc6 Kd5 34. c7 Re8 35. Be3 )
32. d5+ Ke4 33. d6??
( 33. dxc6 Kd5 34. c7 Re8 35. Bf2 Kc6 36. Bg3 Kd7 )
( 33. d6 Red2 34. Bb4 Rd5 35. d7 Rxd7 36. h5 f5 )
33… Red2 34. Bb4 Rd1 35. h5 h6?
( 35… Rd5 36. d7 Rxd7 37. h6 gxh6 38. Bf8 Rd1 39. Be7 )
( 35… h6 36. Bc5 Rh2 37. Bb4 Rxh5 38. Kg2 c5 39. Ba5 )
( 36. Bc5 Rh2 37. Bb4 Rxh5 38. Ke2 Rd4 39. Ba3 Rh2+ )
( 36. Kg1 c5 37. Bc3 Rxd6 38. Kh1 Rd5 39. Kg1 Rxh5 )
( 36… c5 37. Bc3 Rxd6 38. Kh1 Rd5 39. Kg1 Rxh5 40. Ba5 )
( 36… f5 37. Kf1 f4 38. Bc5 Rh2 39. Bg1 Rxh5 40. Ke2 )
37. Kf1 f4
( 37… f4 38. Bc5 Rh2 39. Bg1 Rxh5 40. Bf2 Rhd5 41. Bb6 )
This just shows how much worse my game got when I am wining and give up deeper analysis (from about move 23). I made inaccuracies at moves 3. 12. and 20 and I’ll have to spend time understanding them better 3. …d5 is so early in the game that the offered better solutions don’t seem that much better. 12. …e6 also seems to work for me in a big picture way and 20. …Rb2 was planned and worked well. Mistakes are listed at moves 24. 27. 30. 31. 35. and 36. and by move 24. the computer shows me winning by at least 8.5 points. The winning margin got bigger after this so I guess I coasted.