Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekend Tournament: Round 4

I played in a tournament over the weekend in which I lost two games and won two games. Overall, I am happy with my performance, I thought I played some decent chess. I will post two or three of the games over the next few days. I will start with my last round game, which I lost against a guy rated quite a bit higher than me. It was an interesting game where I was on the white side of a Slav Exchange Variation. I had some chances but took a wrong turn on move 19 that looked promising over the board, but I failed to see a strong continuation for black that won him the game. So here goes:


wang said...

Even if your plan was faulty, I think moving the other pawn to b1 was better. The idea being that it is more versatile. Once you move the f-pawn you're pretty committed to that plan and coming away from it is cumbersome. With the other pawn, if the plan was wrong it's not as awkward to recover from. As often happens with people at our level...wrong rook.

Chessaholic said...

hey wang, thanks for the feedback! I was a little confused by your comment at first but I take it you mean rook, not pawn. I assume you're talking about 12.Rfb1 and are suggesting that 12.Rab1 would've been better. I agree that if I wanted a rook on b1, the a-rook would've been better. But I didn't need a rook on b1 to begin with, it's just misplaced there...

drunknknite said...

Nice analysis! You did well here. Also the game is not so bad. a3, Rfb1, b4, b5 - that's four moves where you basically weren't participating in the game, and you still managed to keep it close in spite of this.

In this pawn structure there are many interesting plans for you to think about now that you realize that the minority attack only works when you have a pawn minority and there is a majority to attack. It is especially important to leave the a and b pawns intact and on the 2nd rank to help guard against the weaknesses that may arise on the c-file or the queenside. Once you start pushing them you are creating holes for your opponent to exploit.

OK so onto the main plans for White, your Rac1 and Rfe1 makes sense, in closed positions it is important to be aware of the pawn breaks in the position, in this case e4 and also common is f5 but we'll get to that. Basically the idea is to get your pieces on good sqaures anticipating the break, and then to use the break to open the position and coordinate your forces. So one plan is e4, and your rook on e1 will then be involved in the game. If you are super-aggressive, maybe the rook goes e1-e4-h4 in some cases. Either way it will be on a good square. You are going to take on an isolated pawn in this case after dxe4 so it is important to get active or try to trade the d pawn for the e pawn as quickly as possible.

The other plan with the break on f5, is my favorite. Bring the a rook to e1 and push the e and the f pawns down Black's throat. Look to games of Botvinnik for this plan, he is so effective in these positions. A lot of times this plan is better when the e-file is open and you have a c-pawn but it works here too.

Mainly I guess my suggestion is to look at games in these closed positions to get a better understanding of pawn breaks and maneuvering with 7 or 8 pawns on the board. Don't be frustrated by the fact that you can't understand the timing behind the break, just look at the way it changes the position. Good players find ways to make their pieces effective gradually and almost permanently. In these positions you can move your pieces as many times as it takes to get them to a good square.

As long as you keep the position closed you are preparing to open it, don't move as if the position's closed, move as if the pawn break has already happened. From the other side you want to prevent the pawn break until you are ready or you can execute one of your own.

Chessaholic said...

Thanks man, that’s awesome feedback! Even though I lost this game, I was not all that unhappy – we had a nice little post-mortem and he told me about the concerns he had at a few points during the game, which caused him to use up quite a bit more time than I did. So I think overall I didn’t make it too easy for him. Had I been able to keep it complicated a little longer, he might have gotten into time trouble…

There are some points in your feedback that will be very helpful going forward. I have a tendency to push the a and b pawns in this kind of pawn structure no matter what - what you point out makes sense so I will pull up some games with this structure from my database and see how those two pawns are usually handled.

I like your explanation of the main plans. In my analysis I looked at Rac1 and Rfe1 exactly for that reason – getting them on good squares in anticipation of the position opening up. Too bad I didn’t realize that during the game :) But it’s something I will remember going forward. The idea with a break on f5 sounds exciting and aggressive, I will definitely check out Botvinnik’s games. For some reason, he has always flown under my radar.

You mention another concept that keeps on amazing me:
Good players find ways to make their pieces effective gradually and almost permanently. In these positions you can move your pieces as many times as it takes to get them to a good square.

You see that all the time in GM games – they will move a piece several times, patiently, slowly, until it reaches its best square. For some reason, I can never seem to get myself to maneuver so much, even if the position demands it – I always become afraid that I’m wasting tempi. It sounds much easier in theory, but when I’m at the board, those kinds of maneuvering moves often seem way too slow or passive. It’s something that’ll take some time getting used to.

Last but not least - don't move as if the position's closed, move as if the pawn break has already happened. This is a great piece of advice, it just makes total sense. It sounds kinda obvious, but I’ve never thought about it that way.

Good stuff man, much appreciated.