My friend FM Alex Betaneli just held the 1st Wisconsin International Chess Festival.
I had offered to take a half day at work the day the tournament began so I could go help set up. Alex also asked if I would like to be a house player if needed, which I agreed to do.
As it turned out there were an odd number of players, so I did get the chance to play a game.
I was paired with Merissa Wongso, rated 1489. During this game I made two horrible decisions; one psychological, one strategic.
Here is the first position. I am White.
I have decent knowledge of the 9.Ne1 KID. I also have working knowledge of the 7…exd4 KID since I used to play it. I don’t know much about the Grunfeld since no one seems to play that against me, but I at least know a little.
So what do I do? Do I play 3.d4 and head right down the road to a nice mainline opening? Nope, I bail out with 3.g3. Now there’s nothing wrong with the move in and of itself, and had the move order been 1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 g6 you’d expect 3.Nc3 and this position arises anyways. But I don’t play 2.g3 for a variety of reasons and so easily could have avoided this.
The problem is that I sit there and convince myself that playing something that my opponent is less familiar with should work to my advantage. That’s ridiculous. I should play the more dynamic mainlines and not duck and cover.
So that’s the psychologically incorrect decision.
Here is the strategically incorrect one:
Here my opponent has just played 13…Nd4. I instantly saw that the pawn on b7 hangs. So after 14.Nxf6 Bxf6 15.Bxf6 Qxf6 16.Bxb7 Rab8 17.Bg2 I’m up material.
However, compare the two positions. In the second position two pairs of minors are off the board, all possibility for pressure on the king side is gone, and Black’s knight on d4 is strong.
Imagine instead I had played 14.Nd5 which forces 14…Bxe4 15.dxe4
In this position White is not up any material, but has a better position with more possibilities.
Here is the entire game. My opponent played the rook ending extremely well.