02 October 2016

Annotated Game #162: A cure for over-optimism

The best cure for over-optimism is being punished for it and understanding why.  So I hope this next game, from the second round of the tournament, is a milestone in that regard.  In a main line Classical Caro-Kann, I achieve full equality out of the opening, with a dynamic position featuring elements of kingside vs. center vs. queenside play.  Although the requirements of the position are fairly obvious - including challenging my opponent on the d-file - I focus instead on the queenside action (where my opponent's king is castled) to offset his kingside play.  This isn't necessarily a bad strategy, but the very over-optimistic sacrifice on move 24 sinks my game.  Admittedly my opponent has to find an "only move" on the defense afterwards, but it's not terribly hard to find.  After that, the game is pretty much over.

This game in combination with the analysis of the previous round (Annotated Game #161) should be a good marker in terms of teaching me to better evaluate positions objectively, as well as spend the extra energy necessary for calculating critical sequences.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B19"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 9.3"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. h5 Bh7 8. Nf3 Nf6 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bd2 Nbd7 12. O-O-O c5 {this early c-pawn push is rare, but scores well in the database. It is a little loose compared with the main line continuation.} (12... Be7) 13. Rde1 Be7 14. Ne4 Nxe4 15. Qxe4 cxd4 16. Nxd4 Nc5 {attacking the Qe4 and covering b7. I had contemplated sacrificing the b-pawn and playing ...Nf6, but I didn't see enough of an advantage in it, even with the extra file available to attack White's king.} ( 16... O-O {would be the way to offer the b-pawn and also looks best, getting the king to safety. For example} 17. Qxb7 $2 Nc5 {and now the Qb7 is attacked and the Nd4 cannot be protected.}) (16... Nf6 {is indeed unsound, according to Komodo, where Black is evaluated as having little or no compensation.} 17. Qxb7 Rb8 18. Qc6+ $16) 17. Qg4 Bf6 {the bishop here has a very nice diagonal and protects g7.} 18. Bc3 O-O $11 {as we head into the middlegame the position is balanced.} 19. Rd1 Qb6 20. Ne2 {it was smart of my opponent to exchange the bishops, since otherwise White has little hope for play on the kingside.} Bxc3 21. Nxc3 {here the position calls for contesting the d-file, but I was over-optimistic about generating queenside threats.} a5 (21... Rad8) 22. f4 { removing the pawn from the g1-a7 diagonal where the Qb6 was eyeing it. Also a good attacking idea with f4-f5. However, it does leave the e3 square uncontrolled and available for the Black queen.} a4 {not very creative and ignoring the power of the queen.} (22... Qb4 $5 {with a side pin of the f4 pawn.}) 23. f5 a3 {I had to think for a while on these last two moves, as things are starting to heat up with the "race" on both sides. I correctly calculate that the text move holds the balance and expected White's next.} 24. b3 Nxb3+ $2 {however, I now play this as the result of an over-optimistic miscalculation. White plays the correct defensive line, which results in Black's attack not having enough punch to compensate for the material.} (24... exf5 25. Qxf5 Rae8 $11) 25. cxb3 Rac8 26. Qf3 Qc5 27. Kc2 $16 {now my attack is blunted and the best I can do is get another pawn for the piece, but I keep trying, figuring that the material will be insufficient anyway.} b5 28. Rh4 { a clever (and only) defensive move, as now ...b4 is met by Rc4.} Qe5 {by this point I'm really just hoping for a swindle, feeling that I've essentially lost. } (28... b4 {is probably still best, but after} 29. Rc4 Qa5 30. Ne2 exf5 31. Nd4 $16 {White is simply up material and it looks bleak for Black.}) 29. Rhd4 $18 Qb8 {now with the threat of ...b4 winning the pinned Nc3, but my opponent easily avoids it by removing the king from the pin.} 30. Kb1 b4 31. Ne4 Qe5 32. f6 {now my opponent seals the win quickly with a breakthrough on the kingside.} Rc7 33. Qg4 g6 34. hxg6 fxg6 35. Qxg6+ 1-0


  1. Hello

    I am not sure if you make conclusions after losing games. With this in mind you can have a pretty well arsenal of tools to help you evaluate properly when the sacrifice is correct and when it is just a speculative ones. Do you know what I mean?

    What I have learnt at the road of chess progress... is to make conclusions and build them to have fundamentals of chess mastery. It is not an easy and quick process, but that's how the mastery is builing upon...

    1. Exactly. For example this game reinforces the point that rather than simply going for a good-looking attack, the requisite energy needs to be invested into calculating all of my opponent's ways of potentially frustrating it. Not seeing all of the other side's options has been a consistent characteristic of my play that needs to be addressed. In this particular instance, taking that extra step/effort could have helped me see 28. Rh4! as saving the Nc3 for White.

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