It’s a good feeling when you’ve played an opening enough to have it memorized up to the 15th move. This was a Caro I played where I didn’t even have to think until the 16th move, my opponent played sound but simple moves that I had seen in some form and none were challenging. The game ended up being a perfect 0 inaccuracies, 0 mistakes, 0 blunders game.
At this point I’ve got a slight edge of -0.6 which I’d say is owed to the c file pressure and the lack of piece mobility of some of the White pieces. I usually focus on the c2 pawn since it’s the weakest point by stacking rooks or getting a Queen and rook battery on the c file.
White really drops the ball here by having pushed a4. It removed the defender of b4 and allowed Nxb4 with an attack on the Queen while supported by the bishop on e7. You see this kind of thing a lot when players don’t know what to do and I think it’s the separating skill between an intermediate player and advanced player. The repercussions of pushing a single pawn with out calculating lead to the loss of the entire game but it must be calculated. There is no obvious move here or obvious tactical blow but there are ways to improve the position. Bxf6 and Rc1 are both slow but are what’s required in a longer positional game and most intermediate blitz players want to attack and push forward.
After Nxb4 White should have played 18. Qd2 to keep in contact with the c3 knight but instead played 18. Qe2?? allowing Rxc3.
White willingly gives up an exchange here, perhaps the knight on b3 was too strong after the rooks stacked up against the c pawn with the addition of the knight. The position is lost after the exchange however, White just doesn’t have anything to strive for and must react the the discover on the e1 rook.
I offer White a Queen trade while attacking the rook on b5 but White declines the trade and leave the Queen hanging in the end. The game ends quickly in 7 moves after this position.
Recently I’ve started spending more time on chess study and analysis rather than just playing a bunch of blitz and trying to take pieces of information from those games to learn from. The topic has been the Caro Khann lately and I had a game a couple days ago where the benefits from targeted study really became apparent. It was against TheWitchKing13 who’s 1622 in a 5 minute game and from the start it looked like a good fight, they knew the opening principles in the Caro well enough.
We get the position above after move 10, both sides are solid and there are no apparent weaknesses. White wants to attempt to capitalize on the fact my King is still in the center for another move but there aren’t any aggressive options so White follows with a6. This prompts me to play Qb6 putting pressure on the b2 and d4 pawns which both become targets, additionally if Bxc6 I can play Rb8 and have the Queen and rooks control the b file. After 11. a3 Qb6 12. a4 a6 13. a5? White has gone all in on the pawn push but lacks the support for it. Pushing a5 allows for the knight on c6 to capture it and be supported by the Queen so White simply drops a pawn.
White captures the knight pulling the King to d7 but this actually helps my plans and connects the rooks. The King will be safe on d7 for the time being until I situate my rooks. Nc6, Bd3, Rhc8, Ke7 are played and we get a position where White has spent all but one move on moving the Queen over to the King side while not developing any other pieces.
White has overlooked an important weakness while focusing on an attack, the d4 pawn. My next move is clear, Nxd4 threatening Nc2 forking the rooks. The game continues 19…Nxd4 20. Qg4?? (White is all for the attack without calculating anything else, the definition of tunnel vision. There isn’t another piece to support the Queen’s attack) 20…Nc2! 21. Qxg7?? Nxe1 22. Nf3?? Nxf3 23. gxf3 Kd7! (dropping a pawn but preparing to play Rg1+) 24. Qxf7 Rg8+
White has committed to the attack but left his King’s safety as a second thought. The combinations of the Rook on the g file and the Queen on b6 eyeing the f2 pawn is too much for White to stop.
This was the best game of the 10 game match I played with Mr-Raptor. I chose to show it because of its complete balance throughout the game until a small pawn move was made in the middle which lead to a completely losing position. It exemplfies how cut throat chess can be at times and all the effort put forth before can turn into nothing by a minor pawn move.
It was an exchange Caro which can be dull but that’s my style when the option is presented. The exchange allows for true chess understanding to come out, there aren’t big tactical mistakes and complicated positions instead it becomes a slow strategic game where either side will grind the other down.
Let’s look at why b3, a seemingly harmless move caused so many issues. The main weak spot in White’s position is c2, this is very common in the Caro once the c pawn on Black’s side gets swapped off. Black will be able to control the semi open file and exert pressure over time. White currently has nothing defending c2 but the knight was blocking it for now which is supported by the b2 pawn. Once White moved the b2 pawn the knight became a weakness it self and it was the only thing stopping the double rooks from crashing through to c2.
We arrive at this position where White has attempted to place a rook on the c file as well to defend the pawn. It’s White’s move and the best move to make is Ne2 accepting the loss of the pawn instead of allowing Black to continue to mount pressure on the c file in addition to the knight which would jump in on e4. In the game White makes a far worse move while attempting to deal with the pressure and the game ends soon after.