2

[FEN ""]
[Date "6/9/2018"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Me"]
[Black "Opponent"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1874"]
[BlackElo "2332"]

1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. Nc3 O-O 5. e4 d6 6. Nge2 c5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d3 a6 9. f4 Rb8 10. a4 Bd7 11. f5 Ng4 12. h3 Nge5 13. b3 b5 14. axb5 axb5 15. Be3 Nb4 16. d4 cxd4 17. Bxd4 bxc4 18. bxc4 Nbc6 19. Nd5 Nxd4 20. Nxd4 Nxc4 21. Ra7 Rb1 22. Qd3 Rxf1+ 23. Bxf1 Ne5 24. Qa6 e6 25. Nb6 Qg5 26. Qa3 Nc4 27. Bxc4 Bxd4+ 28. Kf1 Bc6 29. Ra6 Bxe4 30. g4 Qf4+ 31. Ke1 Qf2+ 32. Kd1 Bf3+ 33. Kc1 Qe1+ 0-1

My rating: 1874 Opponent's rating: 2332

Feel free to go over the following points or any other important pieces of analysis that I left out:

  • At move 9, I feel that I could be committing to a faulty plan with f2-f4. After the game I've found something in a book of mine recommending something like 9. h3 Rb8 10. a4 followed by Be3 and d4. This seems like I'm allowing for less potential weaknesses and maintaining better chances, correct?
  • f5 was quoted by my opponent as very weakening with regards to the e5 square. I have a pattern in my games of playing impatiently and trying to force things too quickly, which is definitely not how I should be thinking while playing an opening like the English.
  • The d3 square is falling under so much pressure after 12. Nge5.
  • During the game I felt that 13. b3 was the most stubborn defense against black's central attack but it looks very very wrong to open the long diagonal so much, but was there anything better?
  • 14.axb5 opening the a-file can probably only be good for me.
  • Was 15.cxb5 more stubborn?
  • 19.Nd5 giving up the bishop doesn't seem right, but what else is there really?
  • It's hard for me to say precisely where, but perhaps there's a point somewhere around move 20 where I should consider playing Kh1.
  • 25.f6 surely seems better than Nb6 as I played in the game.
  • After 26...Nc4! I felt lost.

Also, no computer analysis please unless there's something that can hardly be explained or justified without it. Thanks!

  • I just played through the game quickly. I am about halfway in strength between you and your opponent. My overall impression is that you seem to have no respect for the dark squares. The pawn formation c4-d3-e4 seems like a huge self-inflicted wound on d4 and f5 ceding the e5 square is just horrible. Allowing the capture of your bishop on d4 made me feel ill. I feel you're just giving the Black player everything he wants on the black squares. After 12 ... Nge5 you're positionally lost so asking whether b3 is best is the wrong question. – TheMathemagician Jun 13 '18 at 16:22
4

Some elements :

  • 9.f4 is not a wrong plan per ipse. I would prefer to finish development with 9.h3 and 10.Be3 first, but 9.f4 is correct.

  • 11.f5 is very prematured. Your pair of pawns e4-f4 is good and controls central squares. You want to break it and attack with e4-e5 or f4-f5 only when it offers you an initiative; with Black very solid and your development unfinished, there is no attack.

  • The weakness of the long diagonal after 13.b3 is manageable, but the move itself is useless. It seems you are planning d3-d4 that, after f4-f5, doesn't achieve anything but new weaknesses: having relinquished the e5-square, you will never claim a Maroczy-like space advantage. Moreover, having more space on the K-side and a lag in development, you do not want to open the center. 13.Be3, 13.g4, 13.Kh1, 13.Bg5 are all more useful moves.

  • 14.ab5 is no big deal. In the long run, only Black can benefit from the open a-file (the Bg7 is eyeing a1), but you have to play this move sooner or later anyway because otherwise your own a-pawn will become weak after an eventual ...bc4 bc4.

  • 15.cb5 is no better than what you did; You will most probably lose at least two of the three weak pawns b3,d3,b5. After 15...Nb4 15.d4 Ned3 16.Be3 might just hold everything together, but 15...Nd4 looks simpler: 16.Bb2 Nxb5 or 16.Nxd4 cd4 17.Ne2 Bb5 and Black's minor pieces rule the the board. 15.Bf4 avoids immediate material losses: 15...Nb4 16.Bxe5 Bxe5 17.Ra7, but giving away the dark-squared bishop is very sad.

  • After move 16 you look just lost, one pawn falls and Black is much more active.

Note that you couldn't play a single attacking move after the pseudo-agressive f4-f5, and that Black won on the Q-side because he took time to develop (Rb8, Bd7 vs Ra1, Bc1) and enjoyed full control of dark squares (open diagonal for Bg7, Ne5, b4, d4 accessible...). The opening is not over once you have castled, the fact the game is closed shouldn't give you a false sensation of security, and you should really consider very carefully pawn moves (a4,f5,b3) when you are not fully developed. Actually, you played 7 seven consecutive pawn moves just after castling and your Rf1 even got exchanged before you could connect rooks !

0
  • 9.h3 is recommended by theory (Marin's 3 volume books on the English), but your first real inaccuracy is 11.f5 as you give up squares and time without gaining much.
  • 13.b3? is bad as you encourage 13...b5 which was not a threat!. 13...Nb4 was the threat, so you could have tried 13.Be3/f4 developing and if 13...Nb4 you can play 14.Nc1. Ugly but you are in the game and not losing material by force as in the game.
  • Not sure if 13...Nb4 is a treat. 13.Be3 Nb4 14.Nf4 g5!? 15.Nh5 Nbxd3 16.Bxg5 Nxb2 17.Qe2 Nbxc4 18.f6 or 18.Nxg7 is probably not what Black is looking for. – Evargalo Jun 13 '18 at 8:55
  • Sure 14.Nf4 instead of Nc1 is possible as 14...g5 could be dubious; but aren't you hanging the f-pawn in this line to 14...gxf5 – Ywapom Jun 13 '18 at 15:32

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