07 April 2024

Annotated Game #270: Learning the Slow Slav the hard way

This last-round tournament game is yet another example of the main lesson from Annotated Game #267: How openings are really learned. Here it's a Slow Slav that I had little depth on previously, but studying this game and looking at a couple database examples now have armed me much better for future clashes in the opening.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class A"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D12"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Dragon 3.2"] [PlyCount "55"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Bg6 7. Nxg6 hxg6 8. Bd3 Qc7 {targeting h2 and prompting White's next.} (8... Nbd7 {is the standard move here.}) 9. h3 Nbd7 10. Bd2 Be7 11. Rc1 O-O 12. O-O {up to this point, although we have not followed the full main line, play has been pretty standard as both sides develop. Now I have to start thinking for myself in the middlegame, without however having much experience with it.} a6 $5 {not a standard idea in this position, but not a bad one either. The point is to possibly prepare b5, while also serving as a waiting move.} (12... Rfd8) (12... Rac8) 13. Qf3 {increasing pressure on d5 and connecting the rooks.} Qd8 (13... dxc4 {is a common liquidation of the center at this stage.} 14. Bxc4 c5 {would be a standard follow-up.}) 14. cxd5 cxd5 $6 {this poor decision is the start of my problems. Opening the c-file is a bad idea, with White's rook already occupying it.} (14... exd5 $11) 15. e4 $6 {however, this is an overly aggressive reaction.} dxe4 {the correct response.} 16. Nxe4 b5 {I saw White's next move, but did not handle it properly.} 17. Rc6 Nb8 $6 {this contributes to the cramping of Black's position and un-develops a good piece.} (17... Nxe4 18. Bxe4 Nf6 $11) 18. Rc2 $14 Nbd7 19. Rfc1 {now the c-file is a much more obvious problem. Essentially I have done nothing in the last few moves while my opponent has managed to double his rooks on the only open file on the board.} Nd5 {best chance to keep things together, centralizing the knight in front of the isolated queen pawn.} 20. Nc5 {the best choice to keep up the pressure. The defense becomes more complex now and I falter.} Bf6 $6 {this pressures d4 but underestimates White's attacking potential.} (20... Bxc5 {I considered this but obviously did not like the creation of a strong passed pawn. However, it should be containable.} 21. dxc5 Ne5 $1 $14 {and the knight can blockade on c6 or exchange off the Bd3, both of which would be helpful.}) 21. Qg4 {now sacrifices on e6 and g6 are in the air.} Nxc5 22. Rxc5 $6 {this lets up the pressure.} (22. dxc5 $16 {the Nd5 is not in as good a position to blockade the c-pawn, plus White's two bishops look dangerous.}) 22... Be7 $11 {enough for equality.} (22... Ne7 {is better, thereby guarding c6 and c8 and g6, while jumping to f5 later would also be good.}) 23. Rc6 Bb4 {not wrong, but it betrays my lack of understanding of the need to keep pieces available to defend the kingside.} (23... Bf6) 24. Bg5 Qa5 $2 {the losing move. Now White unleashes a breakthrough sacrifice.} (24... Be7 $11) 25. Rxe6 {now I realize that I'm simply lost, so try a desperation shot at counterplay.} Qxa2 26. Rxg6 Qxb2 27. Rxg7+ Kxg7 28. Be7+ 1-0

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