Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hall of Shame

Ok, so a whole week has passed since last weekend's tournament, and I finally decided to look at my shameful first round loss again. Since there will definitely be more shameful losses in the future, the Hall of Shame might become a regular feature on this blog.

I am on the white side of a QGD, and I started out ok reaching a comfortable position after the following moves:

1. d4 e6 2. c4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bg5 c6 6. e3 Ne4 7. Bxe7 Qxe7 8. Rc1 O-O 9. Bd3 f5 10. O-O Nd7 11. cxd5 exd5 12. Be2 Ndf6 13. a3 Bd7 14. b4 a6 15. Ne5 Be8

Fritz shows white to have a 0.25 pawn advantage here, so the position is pretty much equal. Now something happens that seems to be a recurring problem for me. I try to formulate a plan, take a good amount of time going through a couple of candidate moves, and then at the last second I decide none of the candidate moves satisfy me and make a rash, unsound move that wasn't even one of the candidate moves I looked at! Why the fuck would I do that? No idea. I mean, I literally thought about h4 for about 2 seconds before making the move. Anyways, I seemed to think that I could cause some trouble by starting a little pawn storm. Well, stupid idea. After 16.h4, black duly punishes me:

16. h4 Nxc3 17. Rxc3 Ne4 18. Rc2 Qxh4

After this little idiocy, Fritz shows black to be a half a pawn up. Now, that's bad enough, but I think I could have put up a fight still. Which did not happen. I have no explanation for what happend next, but I simply collapsed, panicked, whatever. I proceeded to pretty much self-destruct, leaving pawns hanging left and right in a desparate attempt to coordinate my remaining pieces. I made pretty much the worst possible move every time:

19.g3 Nxg3 20. fxg3 Qxg3+ 21. Kh1 Qh3+ 22. Kg1 Qxe3+ 23. Rf2 f4 24. Kf1 Qh3+ 25.
Ke1 Bg6 26. Rc1 Be4 27. Kd2 Qxa3 28. Qg1 Qxb4+ 29. Kd1 Qxd4+ 30. Ke1 Qxe5 31.
Rh2 f3 32. Qg4 Qxh2 0-1

Well, this was probably the most embarassing breakdown I've ever had in a chess game. I would like to blame it on a gazillion different things, but truth is, I simply fucked up, was impatient, and lost all discipline after losing the h pawn. Note to self: patience is a virtue. Another note to self: having two red bull before a chess game might actually not be that great an idea.

Luckily, I got half my brain back before the next round and proceeded to win my remaining games.

So, here's the full game in all it's gory glory, so you can end the day with a good laugh. Chessaholic at his finest.


Anonymous said...

Those games are the worst; you make one mistake and after that you're just a blundering avalanche. When I first started analysing my own games, I tried to find every single fault I did in one of those games. I never did that again, because it just took too much time and brought my self confidence to an all time low point.

Now that you have identified 16.h4 as the point where you first went wrong, what do you think you should have played instead? What possible plans for white are there?

gorckat said...

To me, that e4 knight looks really bothersome. I'd probably swap the c3 knight for it and then either pry the f6 one it if he recaptures with it.

Chessaholic said...

Samurai: lol yeah… that’s why I didn’t really look at the game much until this weekend, it was just too depressing :)

As far as plans: I think I should have stayed focused on my initial plan which started at move 13. I wanted to attack the base of his pawn chain with the thematic minority attack on the queenside. However, I didn’t follow through and abandoned that plan (something I need to work on – stick with a plan unless there is a very compelling reason not to!). I should have supported the minority attack with some heavy artillery. In fact, like I said in my post, I spent a good amount of time calculating variations for the minority attack, but then all of a sudden abandoned that plan. I still don’t really know why…

gorckat: I think taking the c3 knight is a good idea, but probably should've been done on move 9 before black pushes his f pawn.

Anonymous said...

White has a nice positional edge in that original position.

You should be aiming to trade off black's knights for your bishop on e2 and knight on c3. If you get that Knight vs bad bishop position, white is positionally won.

The first move that comes to mind when looking at the position is f2-f4. This seems a little counter intuitive since you are weakening the e4 square, but you can challenge that square twice (your bishop and knight on c3), and black can only guard the square with 1 minor piece. The problem if you take on e4 now is black can play fxe4 and he's got attacking chances on the kingside. If you take on e4 after playing f2-f4 yourself, then his kingside attack won't be nearly as strong.

Getting this Knight vs bad bishop is just about always the correct plan against stonewall structures.. Hope this helps!

Chessaholic said...

Braden: f2-f4 with the idea of taking on e4 is interesting, I didn't even look at that. Thanks for the feedback!

Blue Devil Knight said...

It can be oh so depressing, but I think it is very important to not let the pain keep us from looking squarely at a blunder and its causes (e.g., I often miss that I can simply capture a piece that is putting me in check). I try to seek blunderstanding.

Kotov has a great description of that exact thought process you describe: think deeply on a couple of moves, then make the first new move that pops into your head. I put the quote up here from his book. I think we can all relate to it.

(Though I am not sure it is all that bad: often when pondering moves deeply I come up with certain problems in the position I need to solve, I wish I could solve, and then the move that solves those problems pops into my head and I have a strong urge to make it. Of course blunderchecking is essential, and quickly looking for 1-2 move tactics before making the move).

Chessaholic said...

BDK: Yup, taking a close look at the why and how of blunders can be painful but definitely beneficial to improvement.

I had to laugh out loud when I read that Kotov quote because that is EXACTLY what happened... thanks for the pointer :)

I love the last part:
And then suddenly you are struck by the happy idea - why move rook or knight? "What about Bb1?" And without any more ado, without any analysis at all you move the bishop, just like that, with hardly any consideration at all.

Boy does that sound familiar.

As you say, blunderchecking is essential...

Anonymous said...

just my two cents. I played d4 for many years and finally gave it up. I switched to e4 and started playing better right away.

Leave d4 to the GMs. Play e4 and start attacking right away. d4 is just too slow against good defense.

Life is too short for d4.

But if you really must find out how to kick ass against the Lasker defense of the Queens Gambit Declined, get the award-winning Matthew Sadler book. Karpov could really reduce people who played this against him to sad passivity.
But Karpov has lots of patience and is relentless.

We are amateurs- we need to attack quickly!

Chessaholic said...

anonymous: I have been toying with the idea of giving up 1.d4 myself lately... But in the end, it feels like I have invested too much time in it to just say good-bye at this point.

Polly said...

Welcome to meltdown mode. Sometimes it's hard to get back on track once you make an error. It was like that game I had last month where I threw away the win with a hasty pawn push, and then threw away the draw because I was so pissed off about blowing the win. It is so hard to forget about the blunder and just move on from there.

Chessaholic said...

Polly: meltdown mode is a good term for it :) I agree, forgetting about a blunder is really, really hard... I wonder if there's a good way to work on that?