Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Squashed Like A Fly

Wow, I felt I was being swatted like a fly on FICS (freechess.org). I played the first 3 games and lost them all, I was hit left, right and centre. Cruising for a bruising... as they say. These players are easily at least 1700++ rated players and I was mightily impressed with the systematic way my position was torn apart. Wished I could have saved my log (using the Java interface). It would provided me with valuable insight on what is wrong with my position.

I guess I just need to be more careful of the nuances in my position and to pay more attention to my weak squares.

I made a very nice plan in another game today. I'm sure Fritz would suggest something better once I've let it analyse the game but at that point in time, this is what I could have come up with during the game.

This games started with the Bb5 Sicilian. My opponent played 9.... g6 (see diagram). I am White.

I sank into a long thought over this. I had a few alternatives. I had a slight headstart in my development but I need to be careful of the queenside pawns storming up the board. I also knew that I need to quickly develop my pieces. My question was:

What do I play? There are no immediate threats to my pieces yet and Black is still trying to develop his pieces.

So developing a minor piece is the most natural move. But which piece do I move? Do I:

a. do a pawn push e4-e5 or d4-d5? I looked at it and wasn't comfortable wasting another tempo to open up the position as my pieces weren't developed yet.
b. move my Bishop? But where can it go to? Bg5? That move doesn't threaten anything.
c. move my Knight on b1? But where should my Knight go? c3 or d2?
d. move my Queen? The Queen is pretty solid as is, holding up the position and over protecting the d4 pawn - which is always good.

Now I look at my Black's camp. Does it have any weaknesses? Yes. The c-file is open. It would be nice to occupy it straightaway with my Rook but how do I that?

Is there another weakness? Yes. Ironically, it's the b5 and d6 pawns that are weak. So how do I put pressure on either of them and improve my position? I decided to lay a little trap.

10. Nc3 (tempting the b-pawn forward) b4 (my opponent took the bait).
11. Na4 (correct, my Knight is heading now for the b5 square where it guards the squares c7 and attacks d6) Bg7 (my opponent needs to castle quickly and bring his pieces out)
12. a4 bxa3 (I thought this move wasted a tempo)
13. bxa3 O-O
14. a4 (now my Knight has a safe outpost) Nb6? (I thought Rc8 looked more threatening as it occupies the c-file)
15. Ba3 (preparing to attack d6) Nc4 (see 2nd diagram)

I took another pause. With this move, Black gave me a marvelous opportunity to take control of the c-file.

16. Qb3 Nxa3
17. Qxa3 Nd7?
18. Rac1 Nb6
19. Rc7 (I am planning to double my Rooks now with Rec1 and increase Black's suffering) e5?? (I thought this was horrible as it locks in his dark-squared bishop and weakens the d6-pawn)
20. d5 (the d6 pawn is now lost - see 3rd diagram)

I proceed to win this game afterwards. It's surprising that Black allowed me so many opportunities to consolidate my position because of a few bad moves.

But then I'll take each win as they come. I'll let Fritz analyse this game once I get home.

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