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 be 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.
I had an interesting 5+3 game today in an opening I can’t remember the last time I played against. Naturally I wanted to take a look post game and see how well I played without knowing the lines. Just following principles I played a near perfect game since the opponent made an early mistake on the 12th move I was able to capitalize on.
Black immediately puts the question to White’s development, where is the knight going and where is the bishop going? It’s not a bad opening and generally transposes to the typical style QGD if played normally. My opponent decided to support the Bishop after 3. Bd2 Qe7 which isn’t the main line.
Above is the critical position, Black is in a bit of a tangle and needs to get out of it. The bishop is stuck on c8 and there isn’t a clear plan for what the knights are trying to accomplish. Black needs to try to break open the position and get their pieces free. Playing e5 offers what Black is looking for but instead of that they play b5?? which immediately loses a pawn and severely weakens the c7 pawn. The game continues where Black fails to defend the c pawn and I am left with outside passed pawns that cannot be stopped.
So I managed to play against two of my favorite opening structures in one game. The KID has been popular because it’s aggressive and is a a must know when playing online at this point, I enjoy playing against it because I know it well. The Exchange Grunfield is very similar to the Marshall Defense against the Queens Gambit (if you’ve read I’ve wrote about the Marshall on this blog you’ll know I say to never play it).
Black is going for the counter strike to the center from the flanks as more modern openings go. The downside here is if you don’t know that you have to play on the flanks and continue in the fashion of a normal game White gets an absolutely awesome position. I have a feeling that Black knew some theory but it quickly ran out in the next 3 moves as c5, the proverbial pawn break Black needs after 6…Nxc5 7. bxc3, was never played.
Here is the position stated above, Black needs to break the control White has over the center immediately. Rather than c5 Black plays a6 which is far too slow and continues to push the Queen side pawns in lieu of developing the Queen side pieces.
We come to the above position where Black has played b5 and I respond with a4. Playing a4 forces Black to make some choices where none of the answers lead to anything good. The computer recommends Black to play b4 in the attempts to undermine the structure temporarily giving away a pawn and then play Nc6 to fork the b and d pawns while accepting isolated a and c pawns.
Minor advantages add up over time, the weak c pawn, the lack of center control, the eventual two bishops all culminate in a dominate position for me in the end. Check out the full game and analysis on Lichess below.