I played the below recently in a U145 ECF (~U1800 FIDE) rapidplay, and would appreciate your thoughts. There are obviously lots of tactical errors, and please be kind on the last few moves which were played in a desperate time scramble by both sides, made worse by prize money almost certainly hanging on the game, but any constructive comments would be appreciated. The 1-0 result is because black tried Nxa3+ at the end missing the check from the white queen, and so losing on the illegal move rule,


[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.09.12"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Somebody"]
[Black "Somebody Else"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B08"]
[PlyCount "79"]
[FEN ""]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Nc3 d6 4. e4 Bg7 5. Be3 O-O 6. Qd2 Ng4 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bh4
c5 9. h3 Nf6 10. O-O-O cxd4 11. Nxd4 g5 12. Bg3 Nh5 13. Bh2 a6 14. Be2 Nf6 15.
h4 g4 16. Bf4 e5 17. Bxh6 exd4 18. Qg5 Nh5 19. Qxh5 dxc3 20. e5 Qb6 21. b3 dxe5
22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. Qg5+ Qg6 24. Qxe5+ Qf6 25. Qg3 Nc6 26. Rd5 Rg8 27. Bxg4 Kf8
28. Rg5 Rxg5 29. hxg5 Qxg5+ 30. Kb1 Qg7 31. f3 Bxg4 32. fxg4 Rd8 33. a3 Rd2 34.
Qc7 Qg6 35. Qc8+ Kg7 36. Rc1 Qe4 37. Qxb7 Qxg2 38. Qxa6 Nd4 39. Qc4 Nxc2 40.
Qxc3+ {Black now played Nxa3+ and lost on the illegal move rule} 1-0
  • White missed a checkmate in 1 move :) Sep 13, 2015 at 12:56
  • I know - I suppose the smiley makes the comment "kind"!
    – Ian Bush
    Sep 13, 2015 at 12:59

3 Answers 3


My rating when I was playing is around 2000-2100 ELO so hopefully some of this analysis is helpful.

Early strategy

Trying not to be too overly critical and from a basic perspective I think White had a big upper hand early on with a classic Sicilian style setup. Castling on the alternate queen-side in particular suggests that you're going to be attempting a kingside pawnstorm

From the perspective on Black early on I think it's clear he was suffering from severe under-development. White had only one minor piece under-developed (by move 13) whereas Black still had his Queen underdeveloped plus two minor pieces hemming in his Rook. Also I'd argue Black was applying next to no pressure on the centre at all. I'd argue for a intermediate players it's not okay to concede the centre too early on. Some study of openings would be advantageous here.

A rule of thumb is not to move a piece more than twice in the opening unless it's either a) part of a repertoire or b) required because a piece or there is a severe threat. Either way it's a good rule of thumb to follow.

Early mistakes

I would argue that White is in an excellent position by move 14. Both 7... h6?, 11... g5?, 12... Nh5? and 13... a6? are all early mistakes putting Black in a very bad position. Generally it's not advisable to weaken the pawn structure in front of your king (again without good cause) and here there's too much time for White to capitalise and punish Black's weak pawn structure. White missed 14.g4! Nf6 15. f4! gxf4 followed by 16. Bxf4. Threatening to win the pawn on h6 which either forces black to open his Kingside which is obviously not advisable or making a lot of concessions.

Having observed the whole game the fact that Black was allowed to blockup White breaking open the Kingside (with g4) meant that he could buy himself sufficient time to generate counterplay. For me everything after that is a formality since a player who capitalises early on mistakes and follows through with conviction is often the player that ends up winning at the level you're talking about.

I would recommend you check out books by Isaac Lipnitsky if you'd like to understand a bit more about positional play and the likes of Capablance or Nimzowitsch, who are positional masters, to understand what makes a good or bad positional move. This should improve your natural intuition.

Best of luck - I hope that's helpful!

Two books I highly recommend:

Aron Nimzowitsch - My System

Isaac Lipnitsky - Questions of Modern Chess Theory


All that I have analysed from the above game are enlisted below. I don't know which side @Ian Bush was on, so I am making suggestions for both sides. Hope it helps. Here it goes:


  1. White had a slight positional disadvantage in the game as early as move no.7 since by this time, Black had castled, king is in safety, king-side pieces well developed, but White had a centred exposed king, queen-side pieces developed before king-side pieces (against golden rule), center pawns e4,d4 not supported by any pawn.
  2. White should have played 3. c4 which is more mainstream and allows White an early control of the centre which can add to his advantage in the middlegame.
    1. o-o-o is not a good move because of the fianchetto bishop on g7 and also the centre is very dynamic. So white loses the opportunity to attack on the kingside early as Black has the option to blow up the center and rupture the attack.
    1. Bf4 is dubious. Better is 16. Nf5 which attacks the g7 bishop and occupies much space on the king-side and if it is captured by the bishop, pawn recaptures and the kingside attack is easier for White now.
    1. Bg4 is better and is followed with the idea of Rd5..h5..h6 which tries to mend the position.
    1. f3 might have been replaced by 31. Qd6 followed by 31. .. Kg8 32. Bf3 going for a fightback.
    1. Qh8# could have sealed the game however.


    1. .. Ng4 seems premature. Developing Queenside pieces might have been better.
    1. .. Qf6 would have been better, aiming for 31. .. Bg4 and 32. .. Rd8.
    1. .. Kg7 is a blunder. 35. .. Rd8 is quite stable.
    1. .. Nd4 was the best move.

Otherwise Black had a good game and the final position was almost equal , a little in favour of Black. However the game could go anyway because of White's passed pawns.

  • 1
    I strongly disagree that o-o-o is bad just because of the bishop on g7. O-O-O in the Sicilian is part of modern chess opening repertoires. Since 1. d4 has transposed into a Sicilian I think it's quite a sensible strategy - obviously with an element of risk but the Sicilian is often an opening played on a knife edge usually with either side winning by the narrowest of margins. This used to be one of my favourite openings / books as a junior attacking player: Winning with the Sicilian Dragon - by Chris Ward Oct 17, 2015 at 15:18
  • @JamesMurphy You're right with the game matching the Sicilian's and that 0-0-0 is a part of White's attack. But notice my comment regarding the d4 pawn. In Sicilian by this stage, White has a barren center (with e4 sometimes), reason enough for a strong attack on the kingside. However here you have the entire set of pawns and to achieve the Sicilian setup, you need very careful play from white. Better is to avoid 0-0-0 and go for a strong attack at this moment. Oct 17, 2015 at 15:25
  • Not sure what you mean by a missing e-pawn? The e-pawn is usually retained in most variations for White of the Sicilian opening. Oct 17, 2015 at 15:26
  • @JamesMurphy What missing e-pawn? I said that "in Sicilian by this stage, White has a barren center" and sometimes it still retains the e4 pawn. Oct 17, 2015 at 15:28
  • I don't understand how that's a helpful suggestion at this level though. o-o-o is such a minor mistake at this level and certainly wouldn't be a deciding factor on the result? If anything in this game it could have been the winning factor Oct 17, 2015 at 15:30

After Black accepted the sacrifice with 19. dc3, White has some chances. An immediate 20. Rd5 aiming for g5 is interesting. For example, 20. ... f6 21. Rg5! fg 22. Bc4. Black counterattack with 20. ... Qb6 21. bc doesn't seem to lead anywhere (unless I am missing something obvious).

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