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Friday, September 24, 2010

Waiting for a Mistake

You know the kind of game I’m talking about. You’re playing a much higher rated opponent; you play really well, but they won’t give you a draw; they just keep shifting plastic, waiting. Waiting for you to make a tiny, little mistake, then they pounce. It’s not fancy, but it wins a lot of games. I had two such games against a player rated in the low 1400’s.

In the following position which arose from a QGD Tarrasch Defense things are about equal. White has more space but he had neglected to castle (remember this point). Right now his e-Pawn is attacked and he has to defend it. 16.f4 would be logical and it would leave my N somewhat misplaced.

Without hesitation, White played 16.Qf4 which defends the P and attacks the N. Bad move! After 16…Qa5+ his e-Pawn is subject to a double attack. After 16...Qa5+ 17.b4 Qxe5+ 18.Qxe5 Nxe5 we arrive at the following position where he’s a P down:

Despite being a P down he still has hopes of salvaging the game because winning will require some technique and Black probing to create another weakness. White managed to hang on with grim determination for another 5 moves before making another mistake.

24.f4 Ba4 25.Bc2 Bxc2 26.Nxc2 Ng6 27.Rd8+ Nf8 would have continued to make it difficult for me, but instead he played 24.Bxb7? After 24...Ba4 Attacking the R which defends the N. 25.Ba6 Mate follows 25.Rd2 Rc1+ 25...Bxd1 26.Bxc4 Nxc4 he’d lost a piece and the game.

In our first game he had a similar fate befall him. In the following position which arose from a French Tarrasch Variation,

I had played a rather risky, and somewhat inferior 11.Ng5. Now safe for Black is 12…O-O. Instead he played 12…h6 without hesitation, apparently with the idea of driving the N back to the bad h3 square. 13.Nxf7! This is the only move. There's a juicy fork looming on c6 but after 13...Kxf7 14.Ne5+ Kf8 15.Nxc6 Qc7 16.Nxa7 Qxa7 we have the following position
For all the fancy footwork, I don't think White can be said to have a better position. The material situation is White has a R and 2P’s for a B&N which is a minimal material advantage but in return Black has active play for his pieces even if his QB can be considered “bad.” It’s going to be difficult to attack his d-Pawn. You can see what I mean in the following position which we arrived at a few moves later:

I really couldn’t think of anything to do against his actively placed pieces so played a neutral move: 30.Kf2 and now he probably should have considered 30…Ne6 31.Be5 and I don’t see much for either side. Instead he grabbed a P without thinking. 30...Bxh2 and after 31.g3 Ne6 32.Kg2 Bxg3 33.Kxg3 Nxd4 34.cxd4 arriving at the following position:

And now he only has a P for the exchange and his “bad” B was a factor. Black eventually lost.

For the most part I’d have to give Black kudos for his play; it was those pesky little mistakes made in haste that cost him both games. My advice: Think before you start grabbing stuff and try to follow the advice of Znosko-Borovsky in his little book,How Not to Play Chess. Old Znosko-Borovsky said, “Try to avoid mistakes.”  Seriously though, his little book wasn’t all that bad. In fact I’ve been toying with the idea of giving some of his analysis.

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