Hypnotic King-Walk

My Round 2 pairing for this month was against Katie, who has been up and coming but is also a player who I’ve felt that I match up well against.

I had no special preparation for the opening, other than to play “Russian-like” and give her some challenges to throw her off her game, or more precisely her opening. Such was the case with an early ..Nd4.

Move 17.d4+? was the critical move/moment in this game. I had three choices, and first mostly ruled out 17…Rc7, which she thought was best after the game, but I saw that she could push the rook around starting with Be5.

The second choice I looked at and felt was right, but couldn’t calculate conceptualize it, was 17…a5!, which was winning. I kept coming back to this move, but didn’t find the purpose to it after 18.bxa Bc5+, 19.d4 Here I had to look deeper and see that 19..Bd6! Now White’s bishop is blocked in, can’t trade itself for the Nf6, can’t go to e5 attacking a Rc7 for example. Also, Bd6 is threatening to attack the f4-g3 pawn chain beginning with 20..Nh5 for example.

Beyond this, Black can can continue after 19..Bd6! with 20..Bc7! and is now raking White’s queenside pawns with the bishop pair and winning both of them, for a winning advantage. After the game is when I began to notice that I should have noticed how the bishop pair is potentially destroying White’s queenside (pawns).

It probably didn’t help that I have had weird sleeping patterns, like sleeping only 1 and 1/2 hours before going to work in the morning, which is what I did in Round 1 against my lower-rated opponent. Sleep really helps when it comes to the ability to conceptualize what is happening at the board.

In the end, I went with 17..d4+ because it was easier for me to follow the point behind it, and I was hoping for some cheapo against the king. I instantly played 18..Bc6??, which isn’t such a wise thing to do under 1900 – we probably aren’t strong enough to know which moves should be played instantly.

Of course I had considered playing 18…Nd5, but didn’t notice until after the bishops were traded on c6 that Black could simply play BxNf6..BxB, Ra2 and she is simply a pawn up in a winning position, which is what she played. I have no good excuse though because as pointed out earlier, I should have seen that this BxNf6 was a main freeing move for her position all along in just about any decent variation for White.

After the game she revealed that the purpose of the king maneuver was to bring her king to c2? Which was a blunder in our skittles post-game analysis. During the game, I thought she was pushing the king to entice me to blunder while going after her king, or threatening me with a draw in some sense, by having an aggressively posted king. Well, I was obviously looking at this position from a psychological perspective rather than from a concrete or conceptual perspective.

In the future I need to stay competitively tough in this early middlegame stage where more conceptualization needs to take place, and not simply hope for tactical cheapos, which is probably a big problem with the seeing the game of chess as 99% tactics school of thought.

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3 thoughts on “Hypnotic King-Walk

  1. Yeah, it wasn’t your best game and sleeping is very important, it can affect even your style of play. d4 looks like more a move on FICS, not in G/90 rated game against 1900.
    18… Nd5 looks very good and Fritz thinks that you are equal after that.
    I thought that 21… Rac8 is better than g6, still she has an advantage.
    I think next time you should play more solid, positional chess with her and you will be fine.
    I am still busy at work, there is no chess on Thursdays until September.
    On Monday I played with 1700 girl which I beat before, screwed up in the equal endgame and lost. Wasn’t in a good shape, tired and not enough sleep. All I needed to do is offer her a draw, not press for a win. I had more time.

  2. It was one of my better games until move 17. It’s strange that my intuition to play 17…a5! (which does lead to a winning positional advantage) was ahead of my understanding. I was wide-awake on plenty of coffee, yet my brain was still sort of sleep-walking on this move.

    I was thinking “I don’t want Black to get in d4 for free”, my brain was saying that, even though my mind was thinking that it must be strong for Black. I wasn’t considering with any weight all of the positional defects which would appear in White’s game after the one simple move of 19.d4, after 18…Bc5+. That d4 pawn push allows possibilities of …Ne4, …Bd6 (now Black’s bishop is the uncontested/no-opponent one!). Before, White’s dark bishop was good and Black’s passive, and now the other way around. Plus, Blac’s bishop pair can scoop up the queenside pawns and Black has the initiative on that side of the board anyway. I always seemed to win these sorts of positions, even on internet chess, until I got too much into the whole MDLM tactics spiel, which is mainly beneficial in closing out a winning position tactically, quickly. This position had not yet matured into that situation.

    You are right that I played horribly the endgame while under 5 minutes, and her game played itself. I really lost quickly by not trading rooks, as it was impossible to hang on letting hers penetrate. With fewer pawns or more initiative, I could hope to maybe draw if lucky. The other thing to keep in my is that because I didn’t mess up her queenside pawn-structure with a move like …a5, the pawn position was simply not messed up anywhere on the board for me to hope for a draw!

    Also, if White plays b5 instead, then ..Bb4 is possible and the bishops are just getting in behind White’s pawns, to wrench up the tactical pressure even further – my buddy Alex pointed this out to me when he saw the game, and we looked at this position together (he lost to a lower-rated player by quickly playing a bad combination).

    Move 17 for me was the quintessential “Jeremy Silman” type of position, where he tells you to list the positional plusses and minuses involved with a move – in so many words – for both sides. I did none of this (other than in some tactical/cheeseball/hope-chess/lazy-thinking sort of way).

    17..d4? is the sort of move that gives you an impulsive sense of satisfaction while playing it and hitting the clock, and seeing the opponent take their time thinking about it, but then you sort of know that you are screwed after any sort of correct reply. hehe.

    It sounds like same thing happened to you, not enough sleep. At my work it’s gotten more difficult, only 15 seconds between calls now and lots of notes and forms to fill out so have to do it during the next call. It’s exhausting, and they haven’t paid me for 4 days I worked two weeks ago yet. I am ready to look for another job soon. These kids probably don’t even know that sort of job intensity yet. I think you are right, if only I had kept it positional a better result.

    Still, I think these games are very helpful and you can still post your games whenver you want to, and I’ll take a look at them. 🙂

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