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After checking that it was okay to seek analysis on this site, I decided to post this recent game against a 1950 (I was white, 1650) with post-game annotations (forgive my excess rambling). I think it was quite an interesting game, as it featured a very uncommon opening, and an attempt (successful) at playing solid, positional chess. I think the unconventional ideas used in this game will be helpful to those here who play 1.d4 or the Nimzo as black, or in general for people who don't like to study openings. I'm looking for criticism of the game: strategy, opening, etc. and/or my analysis. If this question is deemed not productive for the site, do let me know, so that I can delete it.

EDIT: Please refrain from posting computer analysis. As I've said, I'm looking for improvements in the strategy/opening/personal analysis. Its fine to use engines to go over the game, but if you find improvements, please explain why its an improvement (i.e. strategically; don't post a 10 move computer line to explain it).

The Opening (Nimzo-Indian, Kmoch variation): This was the first time I have played this opening ins a serious match.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4

The dreaded Nimzo-Indian. Since I have had terrible results playing classically against it in blitz, I decided to try something very unorthodox.

4. f3 d5

To make sure the pesky Bishop harassed my Knight no further.

5. Qb3 Be7

Perhaps a more aggressive approach by Black, which I would've gladly welcomed. (5. .. c5 6. dxc5 Bxc5 7. Bg5)

6. Nh3

For two reasons: I told a teammate (jokingly) that I would play Nh3 in my game, and because it supports the idea of controlling e4 via f2 along with the f3 Pawn

6. . .O-O 7. Bg5 c6 8. Nf2 Na6

Cheeky, but very logical. Most of Black's moves from here are geared to prepare c5, which was perhaps played later than it should have. Black already has a safe King and can afford to strike at the center with c5 in a move or two

9. e3

I realize that Black has the luxury to strike the center at will, and want my center (especially d4) to be well supported, considering my uncastled King.

9. . .Re8

This move was ridiculed by my teammates upon later analysis as "it did nothing" according to them. I disagree, and maintain that it is a patient and principled move that can allow Black to strike at d4 with both c5 and e5 with, say, the Queen on c7.

The Middlegame

10. a3

Prophylaxis. Two of Black's pieces can occupy b4, which may amount to something if the Queen also gets on a5. As the rest of my position seemed fairly safe, I thought it was a necessary move to reduce potential counterplay from Black.

10. . . Qa5

Of course, eyeing my g5 Bishop and potentially allowing a safe Bb4 (due to the pin on the Rook.)

11. Bh4

I considered playing h4, but wanted to keep the tension in the position and sought to not allow easy trades, which would give Black's pieces breathing room.

11. . . c5 12. dxc5

Two reasons: I did not want Black to play cxd4 and leave me with hanging center Pawns on c4 and d4 (easy targets for Black's pieces), and I wanted to lure the Black Knight to c5, where it can be a potential target for my b4 push.

12. . . Nxc5

Consider 12. .. Bxc5 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. cxd5 Bxe3 (14. .. exd5 15. Bxa6 bxa6 16. O-O {The awful Pawn structure and King safety negates the activity of Black's pieces}) 15. Ng4 Bd4 16. O-O-O Bxc3 17. Qxc3 Qxc3+ 18. bxc3 Kg7 19. Bb5 Rd8 20. d6 (White has much better pieces and a space advantage, which would be hard to neutralize by Black)

13. Qc2

The most natural square for the Queen. Eyeing h2, I would now be happy with playing Bg3 to an eventual Nh5 and opening up my h-file for the Rook. Additionally, b4 is threatened, which forces a passive retreat of one of the two well placed pieces on a5 and c5.

13. . .Qb6

?! Not the most accurate, as it allows White to gain massive Queen side space and the initiative. Better was perhaps the passive looking Ncd7! which would allow the zinger Bxb4 in case White is not careful and plays b4 right away.

14. b4 Ncd7 15. c5 Qd8 16. Rd1

A very principled move, I believe, considering that there were many good moves to choose from, such as Bg3, Bd3, Nd3, and perhaps even Bb5. This move puts pressure on the center and freezes Black's d Pawn for the forseeable future, allowing no central activity.

16. . . a5

Black doesn't have many options here and must strive for activity by activating pieces, such as the a8 Rook

17. Bb5

Perfectly timed, as now there is no a6 to kick the Bishop. This move instantly paralyzes the Knight on d7, and hence suffocates the Bishop on d7.

17. . . axb4 18. axb4 Nh5

Necessary, as Black needs to make space in order to activate his pieces, and trading is the best option that allows this.

19. Bg3 Bg5 20. Qe2

A rash decision on my part, as I was too tempted to follow this move with f4, forcing Black to open my h-file for me. Better was e4, which was my whole reason behind playing f3 in the first place. It would've favorably allowed White to open the center with his well placed Rook, Queen and light squared Bishop.

20. . . Qf6 21. Nb1

Very pretty, and very logical. I preferred it over Na4 (both stop the Rook from coming to a3 and pressuring my e3 Pawn) because this allows the Knight to get to the center or the Kingside more quickly, if necessary.

21. . . Nxg3

Necessary, as allowing Bd6 would crush Black's opportunities to activate his pieces

22. hxg3 Qe7 23. f4 Bf6 24. Qh5 h6 25. g4

Better than Ng4 right away, as g4-g5 still allows Ng4, but with another piece in the attack. More importantly, it allows White to win the h-Pawn, as g6 is forced to avoid losing the Bishop due to the mate threat on h8.

25. . . g6 26. Qxh6 Bg7 27. Qh7+ Kf8

The ridiculed Re8 from earlier comes in handy.

28. g5 e5 29. Nc3 exf4

The pony joins the battle with a vengeance!

30. Nxd5 Qxg5 31. O-O f3 32. Qh2 Be5 33. Qh3 Qxg2+ 34. Qxg2 fxg2 35. Kxg2 Kg7 36. Ng4

Or Nb6. 1-0, because my opponent had less than 5 seconds on his clock, to my 10 minutes. However, I think my position is sufficiently strong at this point to win anyway with accurate play. What do you think?

[FEN ""]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 {The dreaded Nimzo-Indian. Since I have had terrible results playing classically against it in blitz, I decided to try something very unorthodox.} 4. f3 d5 {To make sure the pesky Bishop harassed my Knight no further.} 5. Qb3 Be7 (5... c5 {Perhaps a more aggressive approach by Black, which I would've gladly welcomed.} 6. dxc5 Bxc5 7. Bg5) 6. Nh3 {For two reasons: I told a teammate (jokingly) that I would play Nh3 in my game, and because it supports the idea of controlling e4 via f2 along with the f3 Pawn} O-O 7. Bg5 c6 8. Nf2 Na6 {Cheeky, but very logical. Most of Black's moves from here are geared to prepare c5, which was perhaps played later than it should have. Black already has a safe King and can afford to strike at the center with c5 in a move or two} 9. e3 {I realize that Black has the luxury to strike the center at will, and want my center (especially d4) to be well supported, considering my uncastled King.} Re8 {This move was ridiculed by my teammates upon later analysis as "it did nothing" according to them. I disagree, and maintain that it is a patient and principled move that can allow Black to strike at d4 with both c5 and e5 with, say, the Queen on c7.} 10. a3 {Prophylaxis. Two of Black's pieces can occupy b4, which may amount to something if the Queen also gets on a5. As the rest of my position seemed fairly safe, I thought it was a necessary move to reduce potential counterplay from Black.} Qa5 {Of course, eyeing my g5 Bishop and potentially allowing a safe Bb4 (due to the pin on the Rook.)} 11. Bh4 {I considered playing h4, but wanted to keep the tension in the position and sought to not allow easy trades, which would give Black's pieces breathing room.} c5 12. dxc5 {Two reasons: I did not want Black to play cxd4 and leave me with hanging center Pawns on c4 and d4 (easy targets for Black's pieces), and I wanted to lure the Black Knight to c5, where it can be a potential target for my b4 push.} Nxc5 (12... Bxc5 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. cxd5 Bxe3 (14... exd5 15. Bxa6 bxa6 16. O-O {The awful Pawn structure and King safety negates the activity of Black's pieces}) 15. Ng4 Bd4 16. O-O-O Bxc3 17. Qxc3 Qxc3+ 18. bxc3 Kg7 19. Bb5 Rd8 20. d6 {White has much better pieces and a space advantage, which would be hard to neutralize by Black}) 13. Qc2 {The most natural square for the Queen. Eyeing h2, I would now be happy with playing Bg3 to an eventual Nh5 and opening up my h-file for the Rook. Additionally, b4 is threatened, which forces a passive retreat of one of the two well placed pieces on a5 and c5.} Qb6?! {Not the most accurate, as it allows White to gain massive Queen side space and the initiative. Better was perhaps the passive looking Ncd7! which would allow the zinger Bxb4 in case White is not careful and plays b4 right away.} (13...Ncd7!) 14. b4 Ncd7 15. c5 Qd8 16. Rd1 {A very principled move, I believe, considering that there were many good moves to choose from, such as Bg3, Bd3, Nd3, and perhaps even Bb5. This move puts pressure on the center and freezes Black's d Pawn for the forseeable future, allowing no central activity.} a5 {Black doesn't have many options here and must strive for activity by activating pieces, such as the a8 Rook} 17. Bb5 {Perfectly timed, as now there is no a6 to kick the Bishop. This move instantly paralyzes the Knight on d7, and hence suffocates the Bishop on d7.} axb4 18. axb4 Nh5 {Necessary, as Black needs to make space in order to activate his pieces, and trading is the best option that allows this.} 19. Bg3 Bg5 20. Qe2 {A rash decision on my part, as I was too tempted to follow this move with f4, forcing Black to open my h-file for me. Better was e4, which was my whole reason behind playing f3 in the first place. It would've favorably allowed White to open the center with his well placed Rook, Queen and light squared Bishop.} Qf6 21. Nb1 {Very pretty, and very logical. I preferred it over Na4 (both stop the Rook from coming to a3 and pressuring my e3 Pawn) because this allows the Knight to get to the center or the Kingside more quickly, if necessary.} Nxg3 {Necessary, as allowing Bd6 would crush Black's opportunities to activate his pieces} 22. hxg3 Qe7 23. f4 Bf6 24. Qh5 h6 25. g4 {Better than Ng4 right away, as g4-g5 still allows Ng4, but with another piece in the attack. More importantly, it allows White to win the h-Pawn, as g6 is forced to avoid losing the Bishop due to the mate threat on h8.} g6 26. Qxh6 Bg7 27. Qh7+ Kf8 {The ridiculed Re8 from earlier comes in handy.} 28. g5 e5 29. Nc3?! exf4 {The pony joins the battle with a vengeance!} 30. Nxd5 Qxg5 31. O-O f3 32. Qh2 Be5 33. Qh3 Qxg2+ 34. Qxg2 fxg2 35. Kxg2 Kg7 36. Ng4 {Or Nb6. 1-0, because my opponent had less than 5 seconds on his clock, to my 10 minutes. However, I think my position is sufficiently strong at this point to win anyway with accurate play.}
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2  
The inline comments were slightly hard to read, so I restructured it to be closer to standard "book form". If it's not precisely what you had in mind, let me know so I can do better edits in future. –  Jonathan Garber Feb 22 '13 at 15:42
    
Did you mean 5.Qd3 and 8.Nf3? –  xaisoft Feb 22 '13 at 16:28
    
@xaisoft, it doesn't look that way to me when I plug it into the replayer. 5. Qd3 doesn't "drive away the Bishop", and 8. Nf3 is patently impossible, as it's occupied by the f-Pawn after 4. f3 –  Jonathan Garber Feb 22 '13 at 17:26
    
Yeah, I know 8/Nf3 was impossible. 5.Bd3 makes more sense. –  xaisoft Feb 22 '13 at 18:12
    
Just looking at the screen so I might not seeing things well, but how about 33...Nxc5 34. Qxf3 Bd7 35. Bxd7 Nxd7 –  Nasser Feb 22 '13 at 23:53

1 Answer 1

This was an interesting game, but the opening was played fairly poorly by both colors.

White erred with 5. Qb3?, the main line is definitely 5. a3. The point of a3 is to force black to part with the bishop pair and prepare e4. If black retreats the bishop, then 6. e4 gives white a good game.

After 5. Qb3?, black should reply 5... c5! with a large edge. In the line that you gave in your analysis, black improves with 5... c5 6. dxc5 Nc6! 7. cxd5 Nxd5.

Moving on from the opening, the key idea for white is to play e4 at some moment. The knight on c3 and the pawn on f3 both exist only to support this push. After black allowed the queenside expansion with a3, b4, and c5 (white is clearly better after this expansion, black should even consider sacing the knight with ...Nxc5 to prevent the dark square domination), white should try to play e4 at all costs. 19. Bxe7! allows e4 to be played after a preparatory 20. O-O. As you correctly point out, in the game continuation, e4 instead of Qf2 would again allow white a large edge, but black has better with 19... f5 or 19... Nxg3, both working to prevent e4. (Consider for example 19... Nxg3 20. hxg3 h6 21. e4 b6! when black's queenside play gives him sufficient compensation for white's center)

At any rate, your analysis is very good, and you did a good job finding most of the key moments for both colors.

It is too bad that the game ended when it did as white would have had a nice edge, but trying to convert the endgame would have been highly instructive.

[FEN ""]
[Result "*"]
[PlyCount "71"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 d5 5. Qb3 (5. a3 Bxc3+ (5... Be7 6. e4) 6.
bxc3 O-O 7. cxd5 exd5 8. e3 c5 9. Bd3 b6 10. Ne2 Ba6 11. O-O Bxd3 12. Qxd3 $13)
5... Be7 (5... c5 $1 6. a3 (6. dxc5 Nc6 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. e4 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bxc5
10. Ba3 Qh4+ 11. g3 Qe7 12. Bxc5 Qxc5 13. Rd1 O-O) 6... Ba5 7. cxd5 cxd4 8.
Qa4+ Bd7 9. Qxd4 exd5 10. b4 Bb6 $17) 6. Nh3 O-O 7. Bg5 c6 (7... dxc4 $5 8.
Qxc4 Nc6 9. Rd1 Nd5 10. Bxe7 Ncxe7 11. Kf2 Nxc3 12. bxc3 e5 13. e4) (7... c5 $1
8. dxc5 (8. cxd5 cxd4) 8... d4) 8. Nf2 Na6 9. e3 Re8 10. a3 Qa5 11. Bh4 c5 12.
dxc5 Nxc5 13. Qc2 Qb6 14. b4 Ncd7 15. c5 Qd8 16. Rd1 a5 17. Bb5 axb4 18. axb4
Nh5 19. Bg3 (19. Bxe7 $1 Rxe7 20. O-O Nhf6 21. e4) 19... Bg5 (19... Nxg3 20.
hxg3 h6 21. e4 b6 22. O-O (22. cxb6) (22. exd5 exd5 23. O-O bxc5 24. Nxd5 Bf8)
22... bxc5 23. bxc5) 20. Qe2 Qf6 21. Nb1 Nxg3 22. hxg3 Qe7 23. f4 Bf6 24. Qh5
h6 25. g4 g6 26. Qxh6 Bg7 27. Qh7+ Kf8 28. g5 e5 29. Nc3 exf4 30. Nxd5 Qxg5 31.
O-O f3 32. Qh2 Be5 33. Qh3 Qxg2+ 34. Qxg2 fxg2 35. Kxg2 Kg7 36. Ng4 *
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