25 January 2020

Annotated Game #235: Beware of "standard" moves

Part of the process of learning a new opening is understanding when "standard" moves - typical piece placement and development, for example - should be played. In the Dutch Stonewall, as in other variations of the defense, it's often good to place a knight on e4 and get in the ...e5 pawn break when it is possible.

In this second-round tournament game, 9...Ne4 was not necessarily bad, but developing the bishop after 9...b6 or getting the other knight out to d7 both look less committal and more promising. The next move, 10...e5 is a blunder both tactically and to some extent strategically, being premature. Tactically the problem is that the otherwise strong recapture with the c-pawn after an exchange on d5 would result in losing a piece. I saw this one move too late, so was forced into losing one pawn, then gave up another one. I gained some compensation back in piece activity and could in fact have equalized, but missed some chances and my opponent played well to consolidate his advantage.

This game was primarily another building block in my understanding of the Dutch Stonewall structures, but also a reminder that it's very possible to fight back from relatively small deficits, especially at the Class level.
[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A10"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "56"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 c6 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 f5 5. b3 Nf6 6. Bb2 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. e3 Qe7 9. d4 {and we have reached a standard Stonewall Dutch position now.} Ne4 { while this is a standard move, here pursuing additional development looks better.} (9... b6) (9... Nbd7) 10. Ne1 e5 {premature both tactically and strategically. A good rule in the Dutch is to play the ...e5 break when it is possible, but that is not the situation here.} 11. cxd5 exd4 {unfortunately, I had missed a tactical refuation of cxd5 and am now forced to play the text move.} (11... cxd5 $2 12. dxe5 Bxe5 13. Qxd5+ $18 {is what I missed when playing move 10.}) 12. Qxd4 cxd5 13. Qxd5+ $16 Be6 14. Qd3 Rd8 (14... Nc6 $5 { at least defends against} 15. Bxe4 (15. Nf3 $16) 15... Nb4 16. Qd4 fxe4 17. Nc3 $14) 15. Bxe4 fxe4 16. Qxe4 {I'm now down two pawns, but the two bishops, open position (no pawns to block me now!) and better piece activity give me some positional compensation. Komodo assesses it as close to a pawn's worth, but of course that still leaves me significantly down.} Nc6 17. Nc2 $6 (17. Nf3) 17... Qf7 $14 {breaking the quasi-pin on the Be6 - I don't want to exchange queens - giving the queen a route to penetrate on the kingside, and also controlling the d5 square.} 18. Nd4 Nxd4 19. exd4 $6 {this move lets me back in the game, since I have a big development advantage now, in effect, and the impact of White's extra pawns are minimized. However, one curious effect is that my planned ...Bd5 is no longer nearly as effective in this line.} (19. Bxd4 Bd5 20. Qg4 Bf3 21. Qg5 Rf8 $14) 19... Bd5 $6 (19... Bh3 $1 {equalizes, as White has to guard the f-pawn.} 20. Nd2 {the engine shows that it's best to give up the exchange.} (20. Rd1 $2 Rf8 21. f4 Rae8 22. Qf3 Qg6 $19 {threatening both Rxf4, Bg4 and Qc2.}) 20... Bxf1 21. Rxf1 Rac8 22. Qd3 $11) 20. Qd3 $16 Re8 21. f3 {this is the problem with ...Bd5, as now White can play this advance to cover the light squares and have the f-pawn be supported by the queen. At this point I run out of effective counterplay.} Re7 22. Nd2 Rae8 23. Nc4 {White can now pursue a simply strategy of just trading pieces, if he wants, getting closer to a winning endgame.} Bc7 24. Rac1 Qh5 25. Ne5 Bb6 26. Kg2 Re6 27. Qb5 Rh6 $4 {looking desperately for counterplay, I miss that the Bd5 is hanging with check, and it's over.} 28. Qxd5+ Kh8 1-0


  1. Well, ...Ne4 looks very okay (and probably a simple transposition in standard lines), but ...e5? is to blame, for sure ;-)

    So beware of tactical mistakes and bad calculations, first and foremost :-)

    1. One thing I've noticed is that it's easier for me to get into trouble tactically when playing a "standard move" that my brain assumes is fine, but it still needs thorough checking.

  2. I would have been tempted (given the opponent's rating) to "switch gears" and try 12. ... c5. I know Komodo considers that worse (-1.27 or more) but you have a 3:2 queenside majority, gain a tempo and get the White Queen off the a1-h8 diagonal, and have a good blockading square on d6 for the d5 Pawn. The c8-Bishop can develop to a6, and, if White is not paying close attention to the whole board, may be able to gain the Exchange as compensation. Whte still has to untangle his pieces without having any immediate threats. (I'm likely to "roll the dice" in this kind of situation.)

    Very good observation regarding "standard moves"!


Your comments and ideas on chess training and this site are welcomed.

Please note that moderation is turned on as an anti-spam measure; your comment will be published as soon as possible, if it is not spam.