Continuing my computer-abetted annotation of critical chess positions where I not only made errors, but demonstrated poor understanding.
This one here is me losing $200 or so :) Last round, 1st board, a Mechanics Institute G/45.
Slater – de Guzman (2378)
My move as white. What I recall thinking:
- My position is good. The a4 pawn is a long-term weakness. In fact it’s the only weakness on the board, and it’s his not mine! :) The Nc3 is very happy eyeing that pawn, so I’d like to avoid trading knights on e4.
- I should stop his bishop from getting an active placement on f5.
- Long-term I want to pressure a4, but I need to be a little mindful of what black might try to cook up on the kingside. e5 is one square he might use to post/transfer knight or rook, in combination maybe with getting in Qh4.
- Also, contesting his control of the e-file seems like a no-brainer.
So play continued
19.Bd3 Bd7 20.Re1 Rxe1 21.Qxe4 Ng4 22.Qe4 f5 23.Qd4 Qf8 24. f4 Re8
The initial evaluation is correct. White’s better by about a half-pawn.
White is also better by about a half-pawn after move 24. However, I missed important ideas and the evaluation fluctuates a bit in between.
First, both Stockfish and my esteemed opponent clearly recognize that black wants to get in Ng4.
Second, the e-file is not irrelevant exactly but the Re8 isn’t causing me any problems. There are no entry squares now or in the near future.
So I played two moves that are very inefficient.
- 19. Be2 takes away Bf5 but does nothing about g4.
- Then 20.Re1 looks to solve an irrelevant problem, the Re8. (If you want to know how valuable it is to stop …Ng4, Stockfish’s recommended move is 20.f3.)
Instead look at the should-be-obvious move 19.Qf4. It doesn’t massively change the Stockfish eval (+0.5, versus +0.3 after Bd3), but it affects FOUR OR FIVE squares of significance. That’s what centralized pieces do! Chess 101!
- Takes away …Bf5, just like my Bd3 move did.
- Also takes away …Ng4
- Adds another control to e4
- Sets up to get to d4 if desired (notice my queen winds up there later anyway) and covers the h4 fantasy square for black’s queen.
The reason white stays significantly ahead in the game line is because of black’s 22…f5. Did we just mention that h4 fantasy square? Stronger is 22…Qh4 23.Qf4 g5 24.Qg3 Qxg3 25.hxg3, cutting white’s advantage to a quarter-pawn according to the ‘Fish.
This game isn’t so hard after all. Just put your queen in the middle of the board and viola! You’re a 2200. :)