As promised last time around, today I will show a game that I played just last month which I believe was instructive in multiple ways, especially for a few fundamental basics that we may need reminders for from time to time. I had the black pieces against a player of relatively equal strength in a DC Chess League game. The game began with the main line Catalan. You can use the provided game viewer below to follow the game, as all notes and comments are located within the game text.
Except for a few inaccuracies (like 20. … Nd3), it was a fairly well-played game from the Black side in my opinion. There were definitely a few lessons that I was able to take away from this game, and hopefully, they can be of help to you, too:
- Every tempo counts
We saw how White lost a tempo in the opening with the maneuver Bc1-f4-d2, which allowed Black to equalize with relative ease. It goes to show how one must be accurate and definitive in his or her plans in the opening, as mixing up variations and move orders rarely makes one’s job easier when all is said and done.
- Active pieces make a difference
With the help of some early pawn breaks like 12. … c5, Black’s pieces had active prospects early on in the middlegame. This paved the way for moves like 15. … Qd3 and 24. … Rd4, among others. Not coincidentally, these active moves played a significant role in the final outcome of the game.
- Tactics, tactics, tactics!
It may seem like this point is overstressed, but it’s for good reason – all material gains, combinations, and positional motifs are all a result of tactics when analyzed at the roots. In this game, for example, the concept of throwing a wrench in White’s system with 15. … Qd3 was a tactic that helped Black gain a few tempi and control over the center of the board. Later, the trade of light-squared bishops and the subsequent use of the queen to influence that diagonal was a tactic in its own right, leading to a pin and eventually a mating net.
Hopefully, the game was interesting to follow and that the concepts discussed afterward were helpful. Even though the concepts were probably ones that we’ve all heard before, it doesn’t hurt to recap them every once in a while, as we sometimes lose focus on what the most important “rules” are. And with that, good luck in your future games, and, as always, thanks for reading!