[FEN ""]
[Date "6/15/2018"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Opponent"]
[Black "Me"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2248"]
[BlackElo "1874"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Bb3 d6 7. c3 Bg4 8. h3 Bd7 9. Nbd2 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. Re1 Qc7 12. Nf1 Rfe8 13. a3 b5 14. Ne3 g6 15. b4 Nb7 16. d4 cxb4 17. cxb4 Bf8 18. Bb2 Bg7 19. Rc1 Qb8 20. Bd3 Nd8 21. Rc2 exd4 22. Nxd4 Ne6 23. Nxe6 Rxe6 24. Qa1 Qd8 25. f4 Nh5 26. Bxg7 Nxg7 27. Nd5 Rc8 28. Rxc8 Bxc8 29. Bxb5 Bb7 30. Bc4 Qh4 31. Rf1 Ne8 32. Qd4 Bxd5 33. Bxd5 Re7 34. b5 Qg3 35. a4 Qa3 36. Rf3 Qc5 37. Qxc5 dxc5 38. Rc3 Nf6 39. Rxc5 Nxe4 40. Rc6 Kg7 41. a5 Nf6 42. Bc4 Rd7 43. Kh2 Nd5 44. Kg3 Ne3 45. Be2 Nf5+ 46. Kf2 Nd4 47. Ra6 Nxe2 48. Kxe2 Rd5 49. b6 axb6 50. axb6 Rb5 51. Kd3 Rb2 52. Kc3 Rb5 53. Kc4 Rb2 54. Kc5 Kf8 55. Kc6 Rc2+ 56. Kd7 Rd2+ 57. Kc7 Ke7 58. b7 Rc2+ 59. Rc6 1-0

My rating: 1874

Opponent's rating: 2248

I feel like I lost this game as a result of gradual positional mistakes. Feel free to address any of the following points and suggest improvements in my play, or any other important details in the game:

  • 7...Bg4 turns out to be a bit of a waste because in playing 8...Bd7 I felt that I didn't want the bishop sitting on h5 or g6. I think the best choice was an immediate 7...Na5 followed by ...c5.
  • After 12...Rfe8 I was planning to switch my bishop over to the long diagonal but I still felt a bit hindered by the fact that I played Bc8-g4-d7.
  • I question the move 13...b5. Perhaps I should've stuck to my plan of ...Bf8, ...g6, and ...Bg7. Here I was thinking about a b5-b4 break but I'm thinking that is a bit premature.
  • 15...Nb7 I felt was wrong. This isn't a good square for my knight and I probably just stick it on c6, and I don't need to worry about keeping space for my light-squared bishop.
  • Perhaps 17...Rac8 was worth considering?
  • 19...Qb8 feels kind of ugly. If I had played ...Rac8 earlier, ...Qb8 may not have been so bad.
  • Perhaps 21...exd4 was wrong. I know in Ruy Lopez structures black is supposed to hold this tension on e5 usually, but I think I saw ghosts and thought I had something with ...Ne6.
  • After 24.Qa1 I felt my position was getting close to losing.
  • I think I avoided 28...Qxc8 because I didn't want to give my opponent a tempo with Rc1-c7.
  • 36...Qc5 felt like all I had because I didn't want to lose the a-pawn. Was keeping queens on the board a better idea with something like ...Qc1-c7?
  • My opponent says I was perhaps wrong to trade knight for bishop with 47...Nxe2, although I thought I was losing regardless.
  • The rook ending with the b-pawn most certainly seems lost, whereas with an a-pawn it would have been drawn.

Also, please no computer analysis unless it's absolutely necessary to justifying something. Thanks!


8... Bd7 was a poor move. Bg4 is understandable as white often plays h3 to prevent it, but if you're going to play it at least follow through with Bh5. Bd7 only serves to give white a free tempo to play h3, which he already wanted to do, and to place your bishop on an inferior d7 square.

11... Qc7 was a bit of a lazy move. What does it accomplish? Something like 11.. b5 to gain space seems a lot more worthwhile. Even Nc6 to further clamp down on d4 after having played c5 would be better.

12.. Rfe8 seems good.

13.. b5 seems good, you're doing what you should have done 2 moves ago. Sure it's a bit weaker now that he has played a3 and b4 comes in more strongly but still a good way to contest for space on the queenside.

14.. Bf8 felt more natural to me, but i understand you want to deny f5. I just don't think it's that scary here and if he goes for d5 instead you've wasted a move.

15.. Nb7 definitely feels a lot more awkward than Nc6. Were you planning to play Nxc5 incase he takes?

16.. c4! Keeping the position closed since your pieces are more weakly placed and gaining space on the queenside was your best decision here I think. As things stand you created a powerful diagonal for his bishop if it can get to b2.

19... Qb8 is a bit ugly, but your real problem was you didn't try to free your rook with a5 on move 20. You already shut it off from the rest of the noard, it's your duty to find it a bit of activity where it's stuck and fight back against your opponent a little.

Yes 21... exd4 was wrong. Your pieces are very badly placed, you trapped your rook on a8, you moved your knight to the back rank and your d7 bishop is only active towards the sides of the board, so opening the center even more is a bit of a crazy thing to do. Getting your knight better placed with 21 .. Nc6 and follow it up by looking to free your a8 rook with an opportune a5 would have been a much better choice. Remember, don't open things in the center when your opponent has better piece placement. Not to mention your d6 pawn became very weak after that.

After Qa1 a potential a5 just becomes even stronger. You are just missing this idea, which has been a good move for many of your turns. If you have to you can always play Nh5 or Ne8 to break the pin, Qd8 is unnecessary and loses a tempo.

29... Bb7 it's nice to see you finally got this bishop to a decent square. Giving up a pawn was worth it, but too little to late.

31.. Ne8 this is the kind of move you can play with a closed center, but with an open one it's far too passive and slow. Nh5 was a better try, though you're still lost. Be careful about exchanging central pawns, it really changes the nature of the game.

Yes, trading the Queens really didn't leave you with good chances, though to be fair you were lost either way. At least you got some good endgame experience out of it which is valuable from a training perspective. It was rough because your king was far away from his passed pawn, and with no central pawns, and pawns on both sides of the board his bishop was superior to your knight. Not to mention his pawns were already far advanced.

Well at least you fought hard, good game. Hopefully this game will give you some good opportunities for growth.


1. Try to have a plan. That way you won't develop your pieces just to get them off the back rack. Bc8-g4-d7?? This is where you went wrong (also, I'd play 16...c4).
2. Look at GM games. I can't think of any slow Two-Knights games where Black put his Bishop on d7. If you looked over GM games in the lines you play you will develop a sense for where the pieces go. I don't think the B@d7 is not much better than the B@c8. You could have considered Be6 which is seen in games; or just leave the Bishop on c8 for now and play like you did with Na5 -- maybe the bishop belongs on b7.

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