Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Chess Log: Black Ignores A Pawn On c6 And That Allows A Weaker Oppenent To Reach A Quick Checkmate

5-0 blitz, I played White:

1. e4 b6 2. d4 ♗b7 3. d5 d6 4. ♘c3 ♘d7 5. ♗b5 g6 6. ♗c6 ♗xc6 7. dxc6 ♘b8 8. ♕d4 ♘f6 9. ♗g5 ♗g7 10. e5 dxe5 11. ♕xd8 ♔xd8 12. O-O-O ♔e8 13. ♘f3 a6 14. ♘xe5 ♘h5 15. ♘d7 ♘xc6 16. ♘d5 ♖c8 17. ♖he1 h6 18. ♗xe7 ♘xe7 19. ♖xe7 ♔d8 20. ♖xf7 ♖g8 21. ♘7f6 ♘xf6 22. ♘xf6 1-0 {Black checkmated}

1. e4 b6 is known as Owen's Defense. It receives just 2 columns of coverage in the MCO-13, under "Unusual King's Pawns Defenses." 2. d4 ♗b7 is the first line given in the MCO-13, but my 3. d5 takes us out of the book. Way out of it, as far as I can tell. The book's 3rd moves for White are ♗d3, ♘c3 and ♘d2. And I respect the book and want to learn from it. The book is the book for a reason, and that reason is that guys and gals who are thousands of times better at chess than I am wrote it. When an opening I've favored turns out to be out of the book, I always think very carefully about adopting one of the book lines, and that respect has paid off very well for me. And I must emphasize: it tends to pay off even when I can't understand the logic behind a book line. I'm all like: "No, I don't understand, but you're the chess geniuses, and if this is what you recommend, that's good enough for me." Sometimes I gradually start to understand the reasoning behind a book line long after I've been winning with it. That's right: following the book has let me win chess games without even understanding why I'm winning. That's how good the book is.

Nevertheless: the book is written by and for grandmasters, and most of my opponents, even the ones who are far better chessplayers than I, are still far from being grandmasters. And 1. e4 b6 2. d4 ♗b7 3. d5 has been working very well for me so far. So I'm going to study the standard responses to 1. e4 b6 2. d4 ♗b7, but at this point I regard 3. d5 as not broken, and not in need of fixing.

At this point. But the thing about chess is that all chessplayers, at every level, are always learning, and it may be that there is something wrong with 3. d5 which is obvious to Carlsen and Kasparov, so obvious that there was no need to even mention it in MCO-13, and which will eventually become obvious to obvious to me and the players I play. (The possibility that 3. d5 is a brilliant innovation on the Grandmaster level, which I stumbled across, is somewhat like the possibility that a lottery ticket worth $300 million will be on the sidewalk the next time I go outside, and that no one else will claim it.)

The thing about this game is that, although 3. d5 has been working well for me, I can't recall its having worked this well. My opponent is ranked more than 100 points higher than I, and none of his moves was an obvious blunder to me. So my reaction is a pronounced What happened?! Did my opponent make a blunder I didn't see, but still benefited from? Did I actually play very well? Will I be able to spot something in this game other than sheer luck? and if so -- will I be able to do it again?

Okay, maybe the whole story here that I put a pawn on c6 on my 7th move, and that Black should've captured it while he could. Black could have taken that pawn on his 8th move, on his 9th move, on his 12th move -- yeah, I'm think that in Black's place I might have paid more attention to that pawn on c6. Again on his 13th move Black declined to capture on c6. With 14. ♘xe5 I finally managed to protect that pawn, and by then it may have been too late for Black to stop me.

So my amateur guess is that the story of this game is that Black let a weaker opponent stomp him by ignoring the pawn on c6. He let several opportunities to take it go by. With a different 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th or 13th move -- namely, if any one of those moves had been to capture that pawn -- the game might have turned out completely differently. I don't think I can claim an achievement of chess genius here. In retrospect in seems clear that not taking that pawn amounts to a blunder on Black's part, and that I was able to capitalize on that blunder.

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