Settling in. I'm awake, just had a very exciting game in Round 2, only to realize I resigned too early. I had only 4 seconds left on the clock (delay not increment), but still. Ok, time to focus, and keep up determination. However due to logistics of round times, and eating times, lunch fell in the middle of this round, Chinese takeout, we ask for no MSG, but we know better... Not using that as an excuse just context. We all we under equal MSG duress, lol.
A bit of background on my opponent. Kaprielian is the President of the MetroWest CHess Club (largest in New England), and I am the Marketing Dir. He is a fastidious student of openings, and used to take lessons from Rizzitano, a player in our Club who also happens to be a renowned chess author, for example on Queen's Gambit Declined (shown below). Kaprielian organizes his study lines in Chessbase, and without getting into way too much detail, has a number of sample "games" in the database where he stores his repertoire so he can quickly review before a tournament game.
On the other hand my opening knowledge is sketchy (that is being kind), although lately I am trying to learn the Black side of Sicilan (esp. Najdorf), White side Closed Sicilian Grand Prix Attack, and White side Scotch Gambit a bit. Other than that it is a mixed bag.
Being in the same Club we have played each other but not a lot, because of our rating difference. Usually I lose. He is higher rated, prepared for his openings like few I've known (ok so I don't know that many upper rated folks...) and generally crushes me. However every know and then I surprise him, like in this chess.com online game (draw)
Nonetheless, he considers only OTB to be "real" chess, and there I have a mostly dismal record, with one exception. In summer of 2012 I got a draw with him at another Vortext event, as shown in the game below. That made an impression on him, and he was not happy! However, in our next 2012 Vortex encounter he was careful to make sure he crushed me.
Here we are in 2013, and we are again paired. He is playing White, I know for a fact he will play 1.d4. Further, since I use the Lev Alburt "Chess Openings for Black, Explained", and we have played this online at chess.com, I was confident we would play: 1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4 4. Bd2 Qe7 which we did. Ok four moves out of the way without a major mishap! However, now confusion sets in...
Then Kaprielian plays 5.g3, ok I know he is going to do that, but "what should my response be? Hmmm..." The Lev Alburt book, which I said I am trying to learn gives a line: 5...Nc6 6.Bg2 Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 O-O 8.O-O. Instead of 5...Nc6 above I play 5...O-O, thinking King safety, and the game continues 6.Bg2 d5 7.a3 Bxd2+ 8.Nbxd2, see the game below.
Keep in mind up to the game 8.Nbxd2 its all considered book, so there is nothing bad. However, it sets the stage for confusion creep. Which is what happens next.
So, even though we are "in book" it doesn't matter. If you don't know what your goals are, let alone the right move sequence, then you will be working against plans you didn't know you should have.
That is what happend. I play ...d5 instead of ...d6 then ...e5, "little" things like that, which add up to wrong plan, moves that don't make sense, and soon we are in trouble. But like I said, so far we are in book, but look how quickly the wheels come off, and the game takes a nose dive into a blunderiffic concolusion.
8...dxc4. Not even close. We are now officially going in several directions at once. Still not in major trouble, but the clouds are forming on the horizon. 9.Nxc4 Nc6 10.O-O, so except for the closed KID structure that was supposed to happen, everything is ok? Maybe not because that closed KID structure is what gives Black immunity from lack of development.
And this is what cost the game. Well, not exactly, it was the blunders due to panicing over the lack of development from confusion that cost the game. After 10.O-O we have:
Note that Black's Queenside is largely undeveloped. Here is what's wrong. The KID structure to slow White down is missing. Oops. So lack of development, which wasn't a huge issue, is now of paramount importance. Where should the LS Bishop go? This is an important question, since the development of the Rook hangs in the balance.
10...Rb8, why? Because White decides to fianchetto instead of a simple Bd7. Fianchettoing takes more moves and weakens the QS pawn structure agtainst an opponent who is better developed. More trouble brewing. And take note that White doesn't do anything except to respond and take advantage of Black's misplaced moves. White never had to due a build "Carlson-like build-up" to overwhelm his opponent. White simply had to take all the advantages that were handed to him.
11.Rc1, perhaps mechanically thinking Minority Attack, also thematic from KID structures. 11...Rd8 12.e3, nothing spectacular, just slowing improving his position. 12...b6, and the Big Weaknesses start. 13.Qc2, see below.
Well, the patterns repeat. Black creates self imposed weaknesses, hands them over to White, and White aims his guns at them. Truely "simple chess" for White, and exasperating for Black, who is slowly realizing what he is doing to himself. Move 13 and Black already wants to have a good cry. But no time for that, this is G/30 OTB!
13...Ba6 a bad plan executed well is often times beter than switching too many times. In this case Black realizes he has to evacuate the c-file in a hurry! However... in order to put up better resistance 13...Bb7 might be even better, as it protects the hapless Knight on c6. 14.Rfe1 Rbc8 15.Ncd2, the "big reveal" showing off the White Queen-Rook battery on the c-file, and making it a point to highlight Black's weaknesses.
The gravity of the situation really sinks in for Black.
15...Nb8, no two ways about it, White's position is better. However White's Queen is in the lead, so he can't nab the c7 pawn just yet. What is Black going to do? 16.b4! Continue to expand on the Queenside, and increase pressure and that "cramped feeling" for Black. Remember, if you are uncoordinated, the last thing you want is to be so cramped you can't maneuver around to be able to exchange pieces and relieve the cramped position...
16...c5, what else?, 17.bxc5 bxc5 18.dxc5, and presto! White has a passed pawn, on the fifth rank. It is officially dangerous. Really. Black shouln't fool around. What does Nimzovitsch say about passed pawns? Blockade them! Especially with a Knight. Even if it takes a minor maneuver to enable a Knight to blocade, as shown here (second example in article).
So, with that background, which Black knew about, what did he do? Figure out a way to block with a Knight? No... Instead 18...Bb5? with the reasoning that the Bishop will make a great blockader. But it doesn't. The Knight is better in general because if threatened, the Knight can move anywhere, and still exert control over the target square. However if the Bishop is attacked, there is a problem of two diagonals. The Bishop has to either sit on the target square, or stay on a particular diagonal (the one with the target square on it) or else give up trying to blockade.
The weakness with the Bishop on b5 performing blockading duties is that a simple 19.Nd4 as in the game forces the Bishop off the board. 19...Bc6, sitting on the target blockade square. 20.Nxc6 Nxc6 21. Nb3 Nd7, of which 18...Nfd7 would have been preferrable to 18...Bb5.
The rest is mop up, 22.Red1 Nb6?? devastating blunder, 22...Rc7 is preferrable. Black was (erroneously) thinking he would be "tricky" (a.k.a. "hope chess" which is not the way to play "real chess") and if 23...cxb6, then a discovered attack on the Queen. However, 23.Rxd8+ and que the "sad trombones" (actually a simple 23.cxb6 might be better, but then again that is like trying to choose between Five Guys and Red Robin for tasty burgers in the U.S. They both do the job nicely). Nonetheless, Black perseveres, 23...Qxd8?? but captures with the wrong piece, ouch! Better is 23...Nxd8 pinning the White Queen. 24.Rd1 Qe7 25. Rd6, pressure! 25...Nd4?? Black cracks, better is 25...Na5 and if NxNa5, then ...QxRd6 exploiting the pin.
26.Rxd4, and Black finally throws in the towel...
Remember, try to avoid MSG while playing chess. But it is not an excuse! My lack of opening knowledge, plus (and even more important) my insistence on creating weaknesses, then inviting White to pick on them is the reason for this loss.