Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Caro-Kann learning experiences

Expanding on my earlier 2/22 post regarding Caro-Kann lessons learned, I had another “learning experience.” This game was played about 2 months ago against a player rated 1867. The good news is that this game, touched off an unbeaten streak which has now lasted 12 games with a performance of 2235. My opponent 1 e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nf3 Nd7 7. Bd3 Bxd3 8. Qxd3 Ngf6 9. O-o e6 10. Re1 Bd6? 11. Nf5!

Crap! I wanted to prevent Bf4, but missed the knight move. I knew I was in for it now. Now I know that Qc7 or Be7 are the two acceptable moves.

11… Bf8 This move is forced. 12. Bf4 Nb6 13. Nd6+ is threatened. 13. c4 g6 The bishop has to get out and the knight is a pain 14. Ng3 Bg7 15. c5 Nd5 16. Bd6!

Ne7 The problem with having played both e6 and g6 is that the white dark bishop has two ways to prevent me from castling. 17. Qb3 b5 18. Ng5. There are many knight sacrifice threats possible now. 18… Nfd5 19. Qf3 O-O I was taking a pounding, but so far staved off his threats. I couldn’t move my f8 rook and my e7 knight was still pinned. On top of all of this, I had spent time thinking and was down to about 20 minutes.

20. h4?! Bxd4 21. Rad1?! Bxb2. 22. Qe2 Bg7. He sacrifices two pawns for not much. The quiet 20. Rad1 would have been much better. There’s no immediate rush for him as I am with many opportunities. I was thinking to sacrifice the exchange somehow to alleviate my position. His attack fell apart after this and I even had some winning chances. However, without sufficient time, we both ended up in a time scramble and we both had to settle for a draw.

The main idea here is to the potential danger of Bd6 and to show the power of pins. Generally, it's a good idea to break a pin regardless of whether it is threatening anything. Here psychology comes into play. There was a chess saying that in order for my opponent to beat me, he needs to beat me in the opening, the middlegame, and the endgame. Here, my opponent won the opening. It is easy to fall apart at this point. However, you need dig down and make it as difficult as possible for your opponent to win. You can turn the psychological tables on him. If you thwart threat after threat, he may get frustrated and begin to make mistakes. Perhaps 20. h4 was a psychological need to crush me, instead of being patient. I know I’ve made that mistake before.

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