In this game I play White against Owen’s Defense which is 1.e4 b6 where Black’s aim is early fianchetto of the Queenside Bishop aim towards the center of the board. While fianchetto is usually a good plan to protect the Bishop and give it more scope doing so early on concedes the center to White. In Classic style I continue with 2.d4 and surprisingly Black proceeded to fianchetto his Kingside Bishop as well. Once I jumped the Knights into the action it was almost a perfect example of a Classical and Hyper modern take on the opening even if not done in the most efficient way possible. In the game White is able to control the center and continue playing along the Queenside flank as Black’s position becomes cramped and development is halted under the pressure of a central and flank side attack.
The start of any Chess game begins with the development of pawns and minor pieces generally with the aim to control and contest the center of the board. The center is so important because it has the most influence, for example a Knight placed in the center of the board will have more squares available to attack than one on the edge. These two ideas show the basic schools of thought as an objective process in the opening of the game.
The goal of a Classical opening starts with 1. d4 or e4 taking control of the center by attacking c5, d5, e5 and f5 with two pawns. From there the usual course of action is to play a Knight to c3 or f3 which supports the central pawns and also attacks e5 and d5 again. Black typically will follow in a similar suit attacking with pawns and knights initially.
Here the goal of White’s opening is to attack the central squares with minor pieces and prepare the path for a pawn thrust after. The move order would look something like 1. Nf3 2.g3 3. Bg2 4. e4 thus controlling the c5 and d5 squares with more of a long term idea of using the bishop and knight to influence the center.
Now with the overall ideas of the two primary types development we can talk about the nuances of the opening phase. There are some principals to make it easier however these aren’t set in stone and are always flexible.
- Develop your pieces- Without getting your pieces in the game you simply cannot do anything, many beginning players will develop one side of their board and neglect the other side while unleashing an early attack. An opponent who is fully developed will always be able to out play a lesser coordinated player as they have more resources at hand.
- Control the Center- As stated before, the center has the most influence over the board and is generally the focal point for the most engagements. Other strategies will aim to attack the center from the flanks but for a start the center is the most straightforward way to play
- Don’t Move the Same Piece Twice- In the opening you want to set yourself up for the middle game and to do so you need to find squares for all your pieces to occupy where they are contributing to the game, the most efficient way is move pieces once only and then follow into the middle game plan.
- Be Careful With the Queen- Many beginners will try to bring the Queen out as an early power presence, while this is true it also give your opponent and easy target to attack. You never want to lose the Queen to a lesser piece and forcing you to move her again away from an attack gains important tempo.
- Castle- Arguably the most important part of the opening, castling allows you to get your king safe and bring a rook into the game completing two things in a single turn
Lets take a look at the opening phase of a game, this stems from the Ruy Lopez which is a well known and highly studied.
Here is the annotation for the position 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 d6 5. Bg5
White has two central pawns d3 and e4 as does black e5 and d6.
White has 3 minor pieces developed and black has two with it being black to move.
Typically Black can play Be7 which protects the knight and develops the Bishop. After that point both players have the chance to castle and then continue on with the rest of the game.
While not my favorite opening the Giuoco Piano offers good play for both black and white, it allows solid development for the middle game. Both players target the weak f7 and f2 squares which sometimes are forgotten and exploited as you’ll see later on.
This was a fairly accurate game for the time controls and elo rating of me and my opponent, the only real time inaccuracies and mistakes became prevalent was in the late end game. The time was about a minute on both sides near the 55th move and demonstrates the difference in the color of the bishops even under time stress.
1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 [I expected some kind of transposition to a Queens Gambit however this move blocks any possibility of that happening]
…Nf6 3.Nf3 e6 [With e6 the position is nearly equal and white retains very little of his initiate with the first move. A superior option for white would be 3.Bg5 e5 4.e4 Be7 with the idea 5. e5 transposing into the main line of the French Defense. Personally I would try to avoid this as Blacks position is uncomfortably cramped and white still retains the opening edge]
4.Qd3 [This move tips the scale into blacks favor as one of the basic principals is to develop the Queen last as it can be exploited while giving tempi to the opponent]
…Bb4 5.Qb5+ [A beginners move to use the Queen to try to pin a piece so early in the opening, it allows Black to place his Knight where he already wanted to go and paints a target on the Queen once Black has castled. A better plan would be to move the pawn from e2 to e3 and support the center while bringing the bishop out to pin the Knight to the King]
…Nc6 6.e3 Bxc3+ [While not the most accurate move I enjoy the weakness of double pawns as targets and you’ll notice this is where all the play on my side happens and also where the game is won]
7.bxc3 a6 8.Qc5 Ne4 9.Qa3 Qd6 [Based on my opponents use of the Queen I doubted he would trade Queens and a central square for her to hold is ideal]
10.Bb5 Bd7 11.Bxc6 Bxc6 12.Qxd6 [The Queens come off after white traded one of their most active pieces for my Knight, something I accept willingly as both of my minors are more active]
…cxd6 13.Bb2 [This Bishop stares at its own pawn and doesn’t have much of a future]
….Bb5 [My bishop however looks to cut the King off from castling and keep him in the center of the board and also hinders the other rook from entering the game]
14.h3 Rc8 15.a4 Bc4 16.Nd2 O-O 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.a5 d5 [While not the most exciting position I have a very solid setup which is what I strive for as Black. More space on the Queen and King side, more active pieces and a safer King]
19.Ra4 Bb5 20.Rb4 Rc4 21.Rb3 Rfc8 22.O-O [Some shuffling around allows White to get his castle in however in the process it allowed me to better position my pieces and get the coordination needed to cement it]
…R8c7 23.Rb1 [The first mistake in my eyes, lining the rook up in front of a pawn that its impossible to defend once the rook has found safety]
…Ba4 24.Rb4 Bxc2 25.Rc1 Ba4 26.Ra1 Rxb4 27.cxb4 Bb5 28.Ba3 Rc4 29.Rc1 Rc6 30.Rxc6 [I wanted to trade on my terms and I had thought about bringing the pawn closer to the center with the recapture however I figured better of it. Potential problems with the connected pawns on the edge with only one pawn there to defend. My connected pawns become all stars later on in the game]
…Bxc6 31.Kh2 f5 32.Kg3 g5 33.h4 h6 34.hxg5 hxg5 35.f4 gxf4+ 36.Kxf4 Kf7 37.g4 fxg4 38.Kxg4 Kf6 [The idea of these exchanges was to clear any problems that might arise from stray pawns on the king side while I focused my efforts on the Queen side, it also cuts the White King off from the action for the time]
39.Kg3 Kf5 40.Bc1 e5 41.Bb2 exd4 42.Bxd4 Bd7 43.Bh8 Ke6 44.Bd4 Kd6 45.Bc5+ Kc6 46.Bd4 Kb5 47.Bc3 Kc4 [A slow but methodical walk of the King to the area of importance, having secured my pieces on light squares I had very little to worry about]
48.Be1 Kd3 49.Kf2 Kc4 50.Ke2 d4 [An inaccuracy as (50… Bg4+ 51. Kd2 Kxb4 52. Kc2+ Kc4 53. Bc3 Kb5 54. Bd2 Be6 55. Be1) would have allowed me to easily pick up a pawn via the double attack on the bishop and pawn]
51.Kd2 Kxb4 52.exd4 Kxa5 53.Ke3+ Kb6 54.Kxe4 Kc6 [My whole goal was to have connected passed pawns and in the event the center white pawn got too close I would sac my bishop for it. The connected pawns would mean White only could capture one while the other promoted]
55.d5+ Kd6 56.Bb4+ Kc7 57.d6+ Kc6 58.Ke5 Bg4 [Here is where the power of an opposite color bishop really comes to light in the end game, if the pawn was ever pushed I could capture and have the King support the Bishop. Even without the Kings support the Bishop threat shut down whites hopes to get a promotion. White wasn’t able to find the proper counter play which allowed me to work on the passed pawns]
59.Kf6 b6 60.Ke7 [The real nail in the coffin, the only attempt would be to use the King and Bishop together to stop the pawns but White has moved further away from where he needed to be]
…a5 61.Bc3 a4 62.Bd4 b5 63.Bc3 a3 [This was a mistake, not game losing but certainly it would have made things harder, 64. Bb4 attacking the a3 pawn and blocking my b5 pawn advance]
64.Ba1 b4 65.Bd4 b3 66.Bc3 b2 67.d7 Bxd7 [As I had said, this was never going to work but perhaps it would throw me off in the stress of time troubles]
68.Bb4 b1=Q 69.Bxa3 Qe1+ 70.Kd8 Qe8# [A swift end as my opponent cut a mate in 7 down to a mate in 1]
This is probably one of my most accurate games to date, at least at the 10 minute time controls. I spent a little time today reviewing the typical opening variations of the Ruy Lopez and found a variation that I enjoyed and came up often in matches online. To be exact it is the “Ruy Lopez Opening: Morphy Defense, Closed, Martinez Variation, 6…b5 7.Bb3” which I had seen Fischer play a lot and incorporated the ideas that I wanted to go for when setting up an early position.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 [This entire move order is by the book and exactly what I had prepared for]
…O-O 8.Bg5 [The least popular move in the data base coming in at 12 with 1 game played, this also being the last move in a Grandmasters game. I was looking to trade the Bishop for the Knight to relieve some of the pressure on the center with ideas of attacking Queenside. My opponents next move might as well have been a wasted tempo as I was going to trade all along and put his Bishop in a passive position]
…h6 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.c4 [ As I had said I was looking to open the Queen side as my opponents pieces were still undeveloped and passive on the back rank or King side]
….Na5 [At this point the position is slightly in Blacks favor however I expected this move and if the Knight were to swap for the bishop I would be able to develop my Queen with the recapture]
11.cxb5 axb5 12.a4 Nxb3 13.Qxb3 bxa4 14.Rxa4 Rxa4 15.Qxa4 [Having completed my idea to open my Queen side, I was looking to put the Rook in the center opposite the Queen and bring the Knight to c3 taking hold of the center and threatening some discovery on the Queen]
…d5 16.Rd1 dxe4 17.dxe4 [Here my Rooks protection from the Queen was overlooked and my opponent must have thought he had a back rank mate and quickly made the move]
…Qxd1+ 18.Qxd1 Rd8 19.Qc2 Bg4 [Completely fine as I needed an opening to escape to free my Queen from babysitting the back rank]
20.Nbd2 c6 21.h3 Bh5 [The best move was to capture the Knight and bring Blacks Rook to d6 to protect his c6 pawn which has some ideas of trying to promote]
22.Qxc6 Bxf3 [Wasted tempo on a move that should have been done in the first place]
23.Nxf3 Rd1+[Harmless check and it allows me to secure my King with ideas of marching up the g file with my pawns]
24.Kh2 Bg5 25.Nxg5 hxg5 26.Qc5 f6 27.b4 Rd4 28.f3 Kf7 29.b5 Ke8 30.b6 Kd7 31.b7 Rb4 32.Qxb4 Kc7 33.b8=Q+[The typical pawn escort followed by a quick mate in the center of the board]
…Kc6 34.Q4b5# 1-0
1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6 [This defense to the QGD is quite common and already puts Black into a tough spot with either 3…Qxd5 or 3…Nxd5 4. Nc3]
3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.Nc3 e6 5.e4 [e4 puts to question the Knight on d5 and if the event of Nxc3 it follows pawn takes bxc2 giving white a stronger pawn structure]
…Nxc3 6.bxc3 e5 7.Nf3 Bg4 8.Be2 [A standard bit of attack and parry with a pin, typical of the QGD, the computer recommends that I instead move 8. Rb1 targeting the weak b7 pawn but complicates the position slightly.]
…Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Nc6 10.Be3 exd4 11.cxd4 Bb4+ 12.Bd2 [ This was a blunder due to it allowing the line (12… Qxd4 13. Bxb4 Qxb4+ 14. Qd2 Qxd2+ 15. Kxd2 O-O-O+ 16. Ke3 Nd4 17. Rac1) with quite a nice flourish of the long castle into a check]
…Qe7 13.Rb1 Bxd2+ 14.Qxd2 O-O-O 15.Bg4+ Kb8 16.O-O Rxd4 17.Qb2 b6 18.Rfd1 [A mistake that dropped the balance to -2.01, I was intending that trades be made for the rooks to simplify the position and leave the g7 pawn exposed]
…Rxd1+ 19.Rxd1 Rd8 20.Rxd8+ Qxd8 21.Qxg7 Nd4 [This move centralized the Knight with the support of the Queen however it left the f7 pawn free for the taking, Kb7 was the best move for Black but not easy to see immediately]
22.Qxf7 Qh8 23.f4 Nc6 24.Qd7 Qa1+ 25.Qd1 [A mistake, Kf2 was the best move but felt risky to a normal human to leave the a2 pawn free with a check however after the check from 26…Qa3+ 27. Bf3 would be a suitable defender]
Qxd1+ 26.Bxd1 [Being the player I am, I wanted to trade Queens and utilize my passed e and f pawns to win me the game]
…a5 27.e5 Ne7 28.Bc2 c5 29.e6 Kc7 30.Bxh7 Kd6 31.f5 Ke5 32.g4 Kf6 33.h4 c4 34.Kf1 c3 35.Ke1 c2 36.Kd2 b5 37.Kxc2 b4 38.h5 a4 39.Bg6 b3+ 40.axb3 axb3+ 41.Kxb3 [ The previous line of moves wasn’t pretty or graceful but allowed me to have complete control over the game and with plenty of time on my hands I wanted to secure the pawn advance}
…Kg7 42.Kc4 Kh6 43.f6 Nxg6 44.hxg6 Kxg6 45.e7 Kxf6 46.e8=Q Kg5 47.Kd5 Kxg4 48.Ke5 Kf3 49.Qh5+ Ke3 50.Qh4 Kd3 [From here I found the quickest route to a mate in 6 which doesn’t also happen in the Queen and King end game]
51.Qd4+ Ke2 52.Ke4 Ke1 53.Kf3 Kf1 54.Qf2# 1-0
I learned about this trap by browsing through the games of a random opponent after falling for it myself. I was determined to never again give White the satisfaction again. I actually had this position once before in a blitz game, however I wasn’t fortunate enough to pull it off. As I drug my Queen to capture his rook my mouse decided d5 was a better square and therefore released her there. That being said, I’m quite happy to be able to have a recorded game where this line was played.
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc 4 3. e3 b5 [Here is where the line starts, Black trying to keep his pawn can lead to all sorts of tactical problems, the worst being further defense of the defender via c6]
4. a4 c6 [At this point unless Black wishes to sac his pawns and allow my wing pawn to come to the center with a move like 5…Bd7 a piece will be lost]
5. axb5 cxb5 6. Qf3 [Here trap in its fruition, Black must sacrifice the Knight in order to allow the Queen to defend the rook once the Bishop move to block the incoming Queen’s check]
…Nc6 7. Qxc6+ Bd7 8. Qa6 e6 9. b3 Bb4+ 10. Bd2 Bxd2+ 11. Nxd2 c3 12. Ne4 c2 13. Bxb5 Bxb5 14. Qxb5+ Qd7 [These moves seem self explanatory, White is looking to trade off material and eventually castle while dealing with the pawn on c2]
15. Qxd7+ [Now this is the only mistake on White’s part this game, both moves are winning but it is recommneded to play (15. Nd6+ Ke7 16. Qxd7+ Kxd7 17. Nxf7 Nf6 18. Nxh8 Rxh8 19. Rxa7+ Kd6) Which is a line I actually looked at temporarily but never analyzed completely. I wanted my Knights to defend each other and block Black from defending the c2 pawn which made the idea less appealing to me.]
…Kxd7 16. Rc1 Rc8 17. Ne2 f5 18. N4c3 Nf6 19. Rxc2 Rc6 20. O-O Rhc8 [I was able to recapture the pawn and have my Knights coordinate quite well, over all a success on my part I felt having my short term plan completed]
21. Rd1 Ne4 22. d5 Nxc3 23. dxc6+[I really enjoyed the tactical complexity here, threats of doubled Rooks, pawns forking pieces, Knights being traded. In the end my opponent blundered and resigned. The best line would have left me up a pawn and a Rook to my opponents Knight. (22… Rxc3 23. Nxc3 Rxc3 24. Rxc3 Nxc3 25. dxe6+ Kxe6 26. Ra1 Nb5 27. Ra5)]