An Olympic Blunder

A great many chess games end without displays of brilliancy. These unmemorable struggles get filed in the back of our brains where we put irrelevant data. Today I recalled the difference between a eukaryote and a prokaryote, after someone walking by had hummed a few bars of Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Membrane.” It’s all still up there unless you let your brain, like an inept housemaid, re-sort all of your things. Do not let your bad chess, or your opponent’s bad chess, get sent to the recesses of your mind. There are hidden lessons in the blandest of games. When you make a mistake because of your opponent’s mistake you truly didn’t understand his mistake. All clear? Here is an example:

My opponent here dropped a knight in  a game that was sloppy and non-theoretical. He probably saved us some time and a few headaches. What went on in this game? It took twenty minutes and nobody had any fun. Let’s get something productive out of this amateurish outing.

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 {This belongs to a family of queen pawn openings where white
does without his c-pawn. It’s played occasionally at a high level. Nobody
studies the defense from the black side so it’s easy to get caught not knowing
what to do.} d5 (2… e5 3. dxe5 Ng4 4. Qd5 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qe7 6. Bf4 Qb4 7. Qd2 {
The attempt at transposing into a Budapest Defense fails. White’s c4 weakens
his dark square but here he has not played it.}) 3. Bf4 Bf5 4. f3 {This is
premature. It helps to control the center but some of the central push’s venom
is gone since I have time to prepare.} g6 5. g4 Bd7 6. e4 c6 {? I needed to
capture the pawn. I thought I would play in hypermodern fashion here and
provoke white’s pawns forward to weaken them. He seems all too willing, but
space is a funny thing. You don’t know how much room you need until you have
too little.} 7. e5 Ng8 8. Qd3 {Nobody has a plan. This is more dangerous for
the attacker since the burden belongs to him. Evaluations bounce back and
forth over the next twelve moves.} f6 {Not fearing the pin on the knight after
a recapture. Bf6 solves that problem. More troublesome is that the weakness
I’ve generated doesn’t actually help. He can simply keep the tension in the
heart of my position and recapture with his queen when I capture.} 9. exf6 Nxf6
10. Be5 Bh6 11. Be2 {Beware of developing moves that don’t actually help you
at all. White simply passed his turn.} O-O 12. h3 Qb6 {This is a waste of time.
C5 is important as I see no great way to get rid, or make use of, the queen
bishop.} 13. f4 {It wouldn’t be the end of the world except white needs to pay
attention to e4. He soon forgets about the comfortable roost he’s given black.
The king’s knight becomes quite powerful. It’s definitely a ram and a lever.}
Bg7 14. Na4 Qb4+ 15. c3 Qxa4 {It’s hard to say what white was thinking.} 16. b3
Qa6 17. Qc2 Qb6 18. Nf3 Bc8 19. Nh4 Nbd7 20. f5 Nxe5 21. dxe5 Ne4 22. fxg6 Qf2+
23. Kd1 Qxh4 {There’s not much to this. White misses a tactic.} 24. gxh7+ Kh8


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