Mystifying opening

I played a new opponent in this game, an older gentleman, and close to my rating.

I thought I had committed a semi-blunder, somehow eying the Nxe4 fork-trick as soon as I pushed bishop to f4. We played it over after the game, and he still let me fork on c7 and thought he was then playing for the win as Black with his extra center pawn. In slow-time, I think I could win that, but he had to leave after some more moves, but think I had zugzwang there for the win.

Anyhow, I spent a long time deciding on taking on f6, which apparently wasn’t the right choice. Also spent a lot of time on h3, alternative being Be2, but then I have to worry about …Bf5, …Nc6-b4-c2, that sort of headache, so played h3. Surprisingly, he did not play …Bf5 and I began to get a somewhat comfortable position. Then he gave me a tempo with …Nh5, and I was finally back on the offensive. I thought he could have maneuvered his queen instead by …Qb6, when Na4 to protect both b2 and d4 would allow him to play …Qb4, a3 Qd6 and he is supporting his e5 thrust nicely.

Afterward, I watched two Class A players, Paul and Alex play out an ending, so that was interesting to see how they played.

I don’t mean for all of my games to be over by move 16, but it is a trend, which only seems to magnify the gravity of those moves, particularly in an unusual opening. I could have played out an ending, but a lot of these games I never get a chance to.

Incidentally, the ending to this game would have been …Qa6, Nd6..b5, Bxb5 and the queen has no escape. I saw all of this OTB, and showed it to him afterward just to let him know that I had seen it.

I actually analyzed this opening correctly OTB (or at least Crafty is no better at figuring out the main line of this opening than I) and would play it again against him, same variation. It’s probably close to equal, but I can let him prove that he can handle it better than me before thinking of switching back to an Accelerated Dragon, which I figured he was gunning for anyway and indeed did play …d5.

Looked at the CA DB. After 6 moves, we were out of book. Turns out my h3 move, which I didn’t want to play(!) is a novelty. …Bf5 isn’t good after all because it runs into g4 a lot. Shredder11 goes for ..fxd, but here is the thing, the way for White to get a winning advantage is to sac the center pawn and go on a king hunt – White even has time for 0-0. The better tactician should win.

If instead, White simply wants a practical game, there is the plan of Nc3-e2, followed by Be3, Rc1, then Bf4, White retains an edge. I actually found the Nc3e2 plan in the first post-mortem of the game, protecting the pawn chain and supporting the f4 square. Then grab the c-file with rooks and gain some space over there.

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2 thoughts on “Mystifying opening

  1. His f6 was brutal, I didn’t like it the moment I saw it. It’s strange for the person rated about 1750 to make such a move. The way of exploiting it Fritz says was Nc3, Bb5, Qa4 and gives a variation with Black without 2 pawns. 13… Nxd4 would let him equalize. Overall you played essentually better, congratulations on the win..

  2. Thanks! I thought the exact same thing as you, Rollingpawns. Then I started to think “maybe I am in this guy’s repertoire, since he surely plays …d5 in the Accelerated Dragon as well.”

    I probably should play him steady next time as well, not sac the pawn, but I don’t feel so afraid of him tactically either, although I am sure in his mind that is what he wants, a blood-bath out in the open. I even passed the pawn idea sac idea by him and of course he felt confident about the possibility.

    He was wearing a sunglass strap that said a defense contractor on it, and on some level that kinda pissed me off, I thought “pros vs. joes” because he might be smart and have a good job, but I spend way to much time on chess to lose to someone who is generally smart but probably doesn’t spend as much time on chess as I do. Just one of those things, he’s got the job and what I’ve got is this.

    I have to admit, I start to like people and then I lose to them more easily, even though there are chess reasons for the loss. He was a nice guy, though.

    ..Bg4 is a bit of a problem in that variation. Qb3 would be great for White as well, if White didn’t have to worry about BxNf3 so much. I haven’t seen any engine or DB play h3 before Bg4, and I was worried about my queen exposed on the f-file after BxN. You are right, though, it’s not even the side of the board that I want the queen on, quite uncomfortable for her there.

    I didn’t like showing him my Nc3-e2 in the post-mortem, because it is giving away my idea, but it seems to work quite well though, positionally. Really, that was a positional win, the tactical stuff was simply a short clean-up exercise once he played ..Qb6 too late, flashy but not completely a knock-your-socks off sort of tactic – he simply didn’t see it coming. The hard tactics are when both sides have tricky chances, not when the other guy is standing there like a statue. 😉 Also, he took his time, so I didn’t have to make herky-jerky moves in response.

    I went over the first 12 problems of Khemelnitsky’s Tactics Exam, scored a 1675. Most of them were really tough and I missed an easy one. I have a hard time seeing 1400 level player doing well on these, despite what the scoring results may say. That is the funny thing on ChessTempo as well, I’ve seen problems that were supposedly 1300 level and been able to easily solve some of the Expert level ones, there is no rhyme or reason IMHO. The problems in this book are again pretty tough, there are quite a few where you sac a few pieces in the middlegame for stalemate or a defensive fortress. I would say it’s unrealistic that you find some of these in OTB play, but it does keep me on my toes and see my flaws under a bright light.

    I am not on ChessTempo lately, nor FICS. I am trying to improve under slow study-like conditions – in my “chess den”. I screw-off way too much on FICS and I get opponents who drop a pawn or get a bad position and will disconnect and then reconnect immediately to play someone else; they usually offer a draw before they disconnect. Of course, people don’t bother doing that at blitz, so you probably wouldn’t know, it’s just that it’s not real OTB chess conditions for me, it’s more purely ego-based. I don’t make the same mistakes OTB as I do online, so it is kind of pointless for me.

    You know something that’s amazing. Back when my rating dipped into the 1290’s, maybe 16 years ago or so, there were a few players just under 2000 then that 14 years later I was playing regularly and beat a couple of them in a game – the thing is, their ratings pretty much stayed the same. A lot of people talk about “What’s the quickest way to improvement?”, but I simply stuck around, took the better part of 6 years off when I was in college and going from job to job.

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