12 October 2020

Annotated Game #254: Experimenting is never a complete failure

This last-round tournament game was my first experiment with 1. d4, with the intention of playing the Stonewall Attack. Not entirely unexpectedly, I never actually got to that particular opening, but into a sideline more like a Colle System. The positive aspect of the experiment was getting a nice opening advantage by around move 9. The negative aspect was not understanding what to do after that in this type of position and losing a miniature. 

I recall reading an account of GM Viktor Korchnoi being asked by someone, who was experiencing some trepidation, when would be the right time to play a new opening for the first time in a tournament. That person was afraid they would not be sufficiently prepared and would lose. Korchnoi's reply was along the lines of "You play it, you lose, so what? Just go out there and play it!" He himself had a wide repertoire and played a number of different openings, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. His point was that there is never a perfect time to start playing something new, so you might as well go do it and start learning from experience. Remembering that, I didn't feel so bad.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class A"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D00"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 13.2"] [PlyCount "36"] [EventType "simul"] [EventRounds "5"] {[%mdl 8192] D00:1 d4 d5: Unusual lines} 1. d4 d5 2. e3 {the recommended move order for the Stonewall Attack} c5 3. c3 (3. dxc5 $5 {should be strongly considered here, as Black is effectively playing a Queen's Gambit a tempo down. White actually scores poorly overall in the database, but the higher-rated players have a big plus score with it.}) 3... Nc6 4. Bd3 {looking for a Stonewall continuation. This has the advantage of controlling f5, so Black cannot develop the bishop to the b1-h7 diagonal.} c4 {this wins a tempo on the bishop and gains space. However, structurally it benefits White to close the center by better enabling kingside play, and leaves the bishop on its preferred diagonal.} 5. Bc2 b5 {yet another pawn move in the opening. White should be able to take advantage of this.} (5... e5 $5 {is the engine recommendation.} 6. b3 cxb3 7. axb3 $11) 6. Nf3 {we now have a Colle System structure, where the main idea is to play an e3-e4 break. It could have been done immediately as well.} g6 {this does not seem like the best place for the bishop.} 7. O-O {a bit too cautious.} (7. e4 {played now would take advantage of Black's lack of development, specifically White's better control of the e4 square.} Bg7 8. O-O $14) 7... Bg7 (7... Nf6 $5) 8. e4 {well-played now, as Black has passed up her chance to control e4.} dxe4 $2 {if one goes by the principle of just counting tempi, then this move makes sense, as it forces the bishop to move for a third time. However it greatly improves the position of the piece at the same time and is yet another pawn move by Black.} (8... Nf6 $14) 9. Bxe4 $16 Bb7 {here is where I had a good think, but did not follow up most effectively. The fact that the Bb7 is undefended can be exploited by immediate action in the center, as the Nc6 is effectively pinned.} 10. Bf4 { while this is a normal developing move and not bad in itself, it misses the opportunity for more forcing play.} (10. Ne5 {Black in fact cannot just exchange the piece to solve her problems. I did not fully investigate the possibility, dismissing it too early. The key line is somewhat complex, however.} Nxe5 11. Bxb7 Rb8 12. dxe5 Qxd1 13. Bc6+ $1 (13. Rxd1 {is also good}) 13... Qd7 14. Bxd7+ Kxd7 $16) 10... Nf6 {White may still have a slight pull here, but Black has repaired her position.} 11. Bxc6+ {a little too quick to exchange.} (11. Nbd2 $5 {would at least develop another piece while waiting to see what Black does next.}) 11... Bxc6 $11 {Black now has the pair of bishops and the position is very balanced.} 12. Ne5 Bb7 {again a long think here and an incorrect plan.} 13. b3 $6 {this is awkward and not forcing enough. The pawn advance leaves the c-pawn significantly weakened.} (13. a4 {is the way to target the pawn chain, at its base, without creating more weaknesses.}) 13... Qd5 {I saw this only after the fact. It was more of a psychological blow than a real attempt at advantage, but the surprise combination of threatening mate on g2 and asserting control over the queenside squares was nonetheless disheartening, especially considering the advantage I had in the opening.} 14. f3 $11 {the correct response, blocking the long diagonal. Opening the a7-g1 diagonal is not an issue here, since Black has no way to take advantage of it. However, it leaves the e3 square, which should have been recognized earlier.} cxb3 (14... O-O $11) 15. Qxb3 $6 {this results in an unfavorable hanging pawns structure for White. Black controls the c4 square and the White pieces are not well placed to support the c/d pawn pair.} (15. axb3 {should be investigated more closely, comments Komodo via the Fritz interface.} Nh5 16. Be3 $11) 15... O-O $15 {Black completes her development, leaving her with no problems and good play in the center and queenside. Meanwhile, I start falling behind in my own development, with disastrous consequences.} 16. Nd3 $6 {this unnecessarily retreats the knight and loses time. Ironically, part of my consideration for this move was to protect the Bf4, but in fact it jeopardizes the piece.} (16. Re1 $11 {is one alternative, activating the rook on the half-open file.}) (16. Na3 {looks awkward but at least would get the knight out. Putting it on d2 would actually be more awkward in reality, as it would have no good other squares to go to.}) 16... Qf5 $17 {another queen move that I missed, attacking the Nd3 and Bf4. This forces me to protect the Nd3.} 17. Qd1 $2 (17. Rd1 $17) ( 17. Nc5 $2 Bd5 $19) 17... Nd5 $19 {my opponent ably finds the killer move in response. I cannot adequately protect both the Bf4 and the e3 forking square.} 18. Bd2 $4 {covers the bishop and the e3 square, but forgets about the now-hanging knight.} (18. Be5 Ne3 $19) 18... Qxd3 0-1

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