[Title "indrekaavik-Swifty15, chess.com, 5/3/2021"] [FEN ""] [startply "29"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. h3 c5 6. c4 Nc6 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Bb5 Qa5+ 9. Nc3 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Bd7 11. O-O Nxd4 12. Qxd4 Bxb5 13. Qxd5 a6 14. Rd1 Rd8 Qf3 Ne7 16. Bd2 Ng6 17. Qxb7 Nxe5 18. Nxb5 Rxd2 19. Qb8+ Qd8 20. Qxe5+ Be7 Rxd2 Qxd2 22. Nc7+ Kf8 23. Nd5 Qg5 24. Qb8+ Bd8 25. Rd1 g6 26. g3 Kg7 27. h4 Qh5 28. Nf4 Qxd1+ 29. Kh2 Bxh4 30. Qe5+ Bf6 31. Qe4 Qf1 32. Nh3 h5 33. Qb7 h4 Qb3 hxg3+ 35. Qxg3 Qe1 36. Kg2 Qe4+ 37. Kf1 Bxb2 38. Nf4 Qb1+ 39. Ke2 Rh1 Nd3 Qd1+ 41. Ke3 Re1+ 42. Nxe1 Qxe1+ 43. Kf4 Qb4+ 44. Kf3 Qc3+ 45. Kg2 Qxg3+ Kxg3 Bd4 47. Kf3 f5 48. a3 g5 49. a4 g4+ 50. Kf4 Be5+ 51. Kxf5 g3 52. fxg3
I'd like to improve my thought process when considering a move, but I don't understand what rules/principles to apply to a particular situation where I got it wrong. This happened in the above game I played as black on chess.com. I am aware that I made plenty of mistakes before and after the move, but those I understand. I am rated 1200.
I discounted the rook exchange 15... Rxd1. After the game, the engine told me I would have had a +3.2 advantage if I had made the exchange. I can't work out why it creates that advantage.
I considered the exchange, but I thought I would stay disciplined and principled. I remembered GM Smirnov's rule "to take is a mistake. I have been reading in IM Silman's '"The Amateur Mind." It teaches that a simple one-move capture, attack, or check is pointless if it can be easily parried.
My thinking was that exchanging rooks MIGHT be useful if I gained a tempo by sending my opponent's knight to the back rank. But I saw when that they could just recapture with their queen and take control of the d file. It didn't seem that I had anything to gain. As such, I just continued to develop my pieces.
Can anyone explain why this was such a critical move, and the thought processes I could have used to identify it?