I have trouble seeing what fundamental mistakes I made during this FIDE rated game I played today. I played as white. The game was analyzed without an engine with people at the tournament were we discussed various variations and what me and my opponent thought when doing certain moves. This was a 90min + 15sec increment game which lasted around 3 hours. When playing such long game I believe that one should and could find something beneficial out of these games since these will truly reflect my strengths and weaknesses due to the long time limit. However, I have trouble finding something useful out of this game. I have trouble learning something from it. After the analysis with the people at the tournament I came home and started Stockfish to analyze further. I noticed and understood the blunders, mistakes and inaccuracies that Stockfish pointed out but these seemed to me very specific to this game which is why I am asking for help on this site now.

Do any of you see something more general which is not specific to this game that I could dig more into and improve?

I was very comfortable with the game and felt that it went well until very late in the game were I notice that black has advantage which Stockfish apparently shows that it has been slightly piled up almost the whole game without my notice.

I'm guessing someone will point out the light-squared bishop. I know and knew my light-squared bishop was a really bad piece this game and I had a plan which was in progress to move it to e6.

This was my first FIDE rated match and hence I have no rating.

 [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 c5 3. d5 d6 4. c4 e6 5. Nc3 exd5 6. Nxd5 Nxd5 7. cxd5 g6 8. e4 Bg7 9. Qb3 O-O 10. Nf3 Re8 11. Bd3 f5 12.Ng5 fxe4 13. Nxe4 Bf5 14. f3 Qc7 15. O-O Bxe4 16. fxe4 Nd7 17. Rae1 Bd4+ 18. Kh1 Ne5 19.Bxe5 Bxe5 20. Rf3 Qe7 21. Ref1 Rf8 22. Be2 Rxf3 23. Rxf3 Rb8 24. Rh3 Qg5 25. Qc2 Qf4 26. b3 Rf8 27.Qd1 g5 28. Bf3 g4 29. Rg3 h5 30. Qe2 Qc1+

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  • 6
    I was a little confused by the term “white bishop”. Perhaps it would be better to say “light-squared bishop”. Apr 5 at 6:03

8 Answers 8


Presumably you were hoping to play a London system, but your opponent tricked you out of it and you found yourself playing a Benoni where you did not find a plan. You did not have to play d5.

It was already a small mistake to recapture with the Knight on move 6. Maybe you were feeling nervous because it was your first rated game and so you felt inclined to simplify by trading pieces, but if you want to take advantage of having White you don't want to exchange pieces without some specific purpose like leaving your opponent with a bad Bishop. After the trade, you chance of an opening advantage has decreased, but your position is still quite OK.

I don't like 9. Qb3. You are not thinking about how to organize your army. That is a reasonable square for your Queen, but she does not cooperate with anybody else. On d2 she also protects the b2 pawn, and lines up for the typical Bh6 manoeuver later in the game.

You do not display awareness that in Benoni-type position Black can get strong play on the e-file and your e4 pawn will be vulnerable. You manage to avoid losing it but you end up with rather ineffective pieces. Your opponent might have been more ambitious and played 13...Qh4, forcing the weakening move g3. Bearing this in mind I think that 10. Nf3, which looks natural, was an inaccuracy. I would prefer 10. Bd3 to be followed by f3 and Ne2.

On move 16 I think you should recapture with the Bishop. After capturing with the pawn the pawn itself is a weakness and it obstructs the Bishop.

Although others have noted correctly that you traded too many pieces, it was not a mistake to take the Knight on e5. By now, you are not playing for an advantage, you are struggling to survive in an inferior position. That Knight is a strong piece and should remove it.

You are not in real danger of losing, though, until 24.Rh3. I can see no motive for this move, unless you felt you were building for some sort of attack, but there is nothing at all to support that. Black's excellent moves Q-g5-f4 caught you flat-footed and will make you remember that although opposite-colored Bishops may be drawish in the ending, they can lead to very one-sided middle games. Black plays this ending very well. Look at the position after move 26 and remember when YOU had doubled Rooks on the f-file.

In spite of this inauspicious start I hope that you will have many satisfying experiences of tournament chess. In this game you failed to organise your men into a team who could formulate a plan. Later you allowed yourself to to led astray by a mirage having no substance. For people in your situation I recommend reading Simple Chess by Michael Stean. Here is a quote from the publisher.

Written by a young Grand Master, this introduction to chess strategy is aimed primarily at players for whom a game plan is utterly enigmatic. By isolating the basic elements and illustrating them through a selection of Master and Grand Master games, Simple Chess breaks down the mystique of strategy into plain, easy-to-understand ideas.


Your biggest strategic mistake is that you traded too many pieces in a Benoni structure. Black has less space and has several pieces that need to route through a limited number of squares (primarily d7, e5, and f6). By trading pieces you remove the burden for them.


As what @cleveland has mentioned, you traded way too many pieces in a Benoni structured opening. Especially when black bishop is on e5 on move 19, your pieces are going to have a hard time defending your king, especially with your black bishop off the board, that h2 square is a big weakness.

On move 28, when the pawn moved to g4, its nearly lost for white since you cant really move the bishop. Using your rook to pin that pawn to the king does not really help as the h pawn is coming next, so tactical blunder to lift your rook and let the black queen on the extremely dangerous f4 square, as it controls threatens mate on the both the h2, f1 and c1 square on move 25, which later lead to your resign after Qc1+.

Tip: when playing long time control games like 90mins, make sure you get your opening theory right, or for the rest of your game the opponent will slowly crush you (if he doesnt blunder)


As usual people have not read the OP and started analyzing stuff. Let me try my luck. The lesson I think you can learn from this game -- and please do not take this lightly -- is to be patient, to curb the urge to do something, something drastic, something forceful. This unfortunately is the result of how chess games are presented in articles, books and videos. (They choose the most brilliant games with lots of action and glorify forcing tactical moves while brushing over the build-up moves.)

It is obvious that you did not know the opening and also missed rather easy continuations like when Rook comes to e file and piles up on e4. But again my point is not the details. As you said it is not even just the game moves but what you can learn. So, let me repeat you can learn to keep calm and hold on to your position. Let me give examples of where your moves shouted "I am moving this becasue I have to do something, I have to make a threat." Let's go back to after Ne5. Ok, Black has centralized a N but is your position that bad? No. Simply retreat your Bishop, say to c2. If Ng4 then Qg3 and there is no check on f2 while you pressure d6 now. Later your Rf3 idea and doubling. Why?! You know there is no real threat and after Rf8 everything backfires. Do you not know it? You do! It is just that urge to do something. Rh3. Why?! What are you thretening?! Nothing. You can see it but you play it anyway, why? Because of I must do something attitude.

Maybe ask yourself: If I keep the status quo, what is my opponent going to do anyway? What are my good point in my position? Let me keep them. Let me not move a piece that is already doing some job.

This if you take seriously can get you to a lot of places. On more practical side, I have made for myself a list of "When in doubt, [do this!]". You can do one for yourself. Some items from my list that would apply to this game are: when in doubt, play in the center (centralize your pieces. For example after Rd1 your pieces stand strong and central, except for the queen. maybe think about a new home for the queen. Also this would have avoided Rh3 idea.) When is doubt, develop your pieces. This prevents me from (often premature) adventures in the opening.

Hope this helps.


Here is how I play with White

[FEN ""]

This limits Black's options.

You get decent positions every time.

Way less opening theory.

That means, more energy and focus for middlegame and endgame.

For example

[FEN ""]
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.O-O O-O

King is safe.

Now, 5.c2-c4 is more dynamic.

While 5.d2-d4 is more solid.

The g2-bishop is a key piece, so keep the h1-a8 diagonal open.

If you play 1.Nf3, learn the pawn structures, you can focus on middlegames and endgames and skip the opening trouble.


First of all: I'm not rated at all and would not consider myself as a good player, as I have no theoretical knowledge at all, but rather play for fun and by intuition (and I only play Blitz).

What I quickly realized in that game were 3 general points that belong together:

  1. Overall board awareness! There are 64 squares and every single one of them matters, but I feel you were focused on a smaller slice of the board at times. Positioning is obviously super important, so be not only aware of the pieces but also of what squares are not occupied/protected and what your opponent can do with that in the long run. During mid game I was already worried about your backline, one smart rook or queen play and you cannot escape and in the end that's what happened. A simple (seemingly innocuous) pawn movement to h3 instead of the rather "random" rook movement could have saved you. Also compare how your opponents' pawns in the middle are utilized to both stop you and protect blacks' pieces - while your pawns in the middle are mostly useless. You should also look out which piece is blocking ways of others and if the position is worth it (early your queen blocks your pawn without justification, later same happens with your rook and pawn).
  2. Trading pieces only based on their value (many mentioned this already). A trade is beneficial for you, when you end up having positional advantage. I will not repeat the answers of the other posters, just make sure you always trade for positional advantage! The pieces' value alone does not win games and is just an overall estimate, I've won games by checkmate where I was behind multiple big pieces and a well-positioned pawn can be way more valuable than a queen that cannot impact the board.
  3. Individual moves that seem like you only moved a piece because you had to, which could indicate a lack of game plan. There should be no move without a proper reasoning (except you are in Zugzwang) and no matter in what situation you are, there should be an idea on how to either get out of danger or put pressure on your opponent. Have a strategy at hand and don't just move a piece because "the move is safe", because your opponent will most likely have this kind of game plan and thus be one step ahead. Playing reactive instead of proactive can be dangerous, because you are losing tempo! However, this does not mean you should not change your strategy mid-game if the situation requires or opportunities open up.

In my opinion, those 3 points incrementally add up slight disadvantages over time, which leads to a board state that is clearly in your opponents' favor, while on paper (based on mere piece value) you did not do anything wrong. I think all 3 points boil down to positioning, which essentially is all chess really is about.

  • 1
    What did you intend to say about move 6? The N could have done more??
    – Philip Roe
    Apr 7 at 2:41
  • @PhilipRoe I now realize it does not make sense, the knight would end up somewhere else if not traded, pawn would be at the same spot. I'll edit my answer
    – kopaka
    Apr 7 at 7:12

"Do any of you see something more general which is not specific to this game that I could dig more into and improve?"

Yes, piece placement.

By that I mean what are good squares for my pieces and what are good squares for my opponents pieces. Can I frustrate my opponent getting her good squares? Can I get a harmonious placement for my pieces so that they support each other?

My first glance at the game told me as early as move 8 you had missed Black's simple and strong plan to fianchetto her Black squared bishop.

Unchallenged, this bishop can be a monster so as soon as Black played 7....g6 she signalled: my bishop is about to become dangerous!

You needed to admit your Black squared bishop was misplaced and redirect it to its better square c3 so I think instead of 8.e4 you would be better to try 8.B:d2 and follow up with B:c3 as soon as possible to counter Black's plan and swap off the monster.

If you successfully do this it will expose black square holes in your opponents position so then plan to exploit these with your queen.

Your pawn on d5 can have strength as it cramps Black somewhat but it does limit the mobility of you white square bishop: finding a good square for this piece may not be easy.


Coordinating pieces in the Benoni structure is much more difficult than a London/Mason. So, playing d4-d5 and entering unfamiliar difficult territory was the start. After that it was a gradual weakening of your position as you faced various threats.

Solution: Stay in familiar territory and study more to learn more of the grand range of things that can happen in chess games.

[Event ""] [Site ""] [Date ""] [Round ""] [White ""] [Black ""] [Result "*"] [ECO "A45"]

  1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 c5 3. d5 ( 3. e3)3... d6 4. c4 e6 ( 4... e5)5. Nc3 exd5 6. Nxd5 ( 6. cxd5)6... Nxd5 7. cxd5 g6 8. e4 ( 8. Qd2)8... Bg7 9. Qb3 ( 9. Qd2)9... O-O
  2. Nf3 ( 10. Bd3 Re8 11. Ne2 )10... Re8 11. Bd3 f5 12. Ng5 ( 12. Nd2 fxe4 13. Nxe4 )12... fxe4 13. Nxe4 Bf5 14. f3 ( 14. Qxb7 Bxe4 15. Qxa8 Bxd5+ )14... Qc7 ( 14... b6)15. O-O Bxe4 16. fxe4 ( 16. Bxe4 Nd7 )16... Nd7 17. Rae1 Bd4+ ( 17... Ne5)18. Kh1 Ne5 19. Bxe5 Bxe5 20. Rf3 Qe7 21. Ref1 Rf8 22. Be2 ( 22. g3 Rxf3 23. Rxf3 Rf8 24. Rxf8+ Qxf8 25. Kg2 Bd4 26. Qc2 Qf6 27. b3 )22... Rxf3 ( 22... Qh4 23. Rxf8+ Rxf8 24. Rxf8+ Kxf8 25. Qf3+ Ke7 26. g3 )23. Rxf3 ( 23. Bxf3 Qh4 )23... Rb8 ( 23... Qh4 24. g3 Qxe4 )24. Rh3 ( 24. a4)24... Qg5 25. Qc2 Qf4 ( 25... b5)26. b3 Rf8 27. Qd1 ( 27. Qb1 Qd2 28. Bd3 Rf2 29. Bf1 Qxa2 )27... g5 ( 27... Qxe4)28. Bf3 g4 29. Rg3 h5 30. Qe2 Qc1+ *

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