In the final round of my most recent tournament, I was scheduled to play Black against a particular opponent whom I have faced several times before. Because I had lost one game so far, I had to win this game to have any chance at catching the leaders in the tournament and winning it. So I thought about a plan to play hard for a win as Black.
I knew one thing almost for certain: my opponent as White always plays a solid Torre-style opening system involving the moves d4, c3, Bg5, Nd2. Also, I knew him to happily give up his dark-squared Bishop early for the sake of quick development. Given this knowledge, inspired by a recent Chess Improver post about the art of chess, I aimed to create a personal masterpiece on the chess board, with the knowledge that “you have to willing to accept the consequences of taking a chance”.
The battle of chess ideas
I decided to deliberately engage in a “battle of chess ideas” as Black for this game, investing valuable development time to gain the Bishop pair in hope of consolidating and achieving a good late middlegame or endgame, using my unopposed dark-squared Bishop to press on White’s dark-squared Pawn chain.
I attacked White’s Bishop with my h-Pawn on move 4, planning to eliminate it, and White obliged. On move 8, because White did not take the opportunity to maintain a Pawn center, the game was in no risk of being opened up, so I also invested valuable time in playing g6 (instead of developing immediately with Be7) in order to maximize the scope of my dark-squared Bishop.
Because of White’s slightly passive development, I ended up a bit impatient at move 11. My safest course was to complete development first, and then start applying pressure to White’s center, but I chose to open things up before actually completing development (of my light-squared Bishop). After some passive moves by White, I achieved a slightly advantageous position with all my main pieces developed, and my Rooks ready to be developed on the open d and e files also. I considered my opening experiment a success, although the cost of opening up the center was that the resulting symmetrical Pawn structure meant that most likely there would be a long struggle to try to win an endgame by applying more pressure on the Queen side to win a Pawn or something.
In fact, after several more moves of mutual maneuvering, my opponent blundered on move 25, resulting in forced loss of material.
A bad practical decision
Unfortunately, I made what was a bad practical decision. I was starting to get tired, but instead of playing safely, I got a bit ambitious, trying for a bigger win of material than the simple one of winning a Queen for a Rook and Bishop; if I had gone for that situation instead, I could have played effortlessly “for two results”: there was no way I could lose, and defense was surely impossible. But I thought that I would “wait” for an even better moment to take advantage of White’s self-pin.
It turned out that in fact, White played another blunder, allowing me to win an exchange and more on the Queen side, just as I had hoped. At this point, the game should have been nearly over.
Unfortunately, while on the verge of winning, just a few moves away from promoting a Pawn, while nervous about time getting a little low on the clock (but objectively, not that low: 10 minutes left of my original 120 minutes), I blundered repeatedly and ended up losing. It was arguably one of the most horrific losses in my chess life, in a very important game. But what can I say, I got swindled, and with a passed c-Pawn, ironically, the same Pawn that as White I had swindled a win in my previous round’s game, so there is justice in the chess universe.
I was devastated by this loss (of course, I got over it after about twelve hours), but at least I was proud of having actually executed my pre-game plan. If I had actually taken White’s Queen, then the plan of destroying White’s dark-squared Pawn chain on b2 and c3 through the combined efforts of my fianchettoed Bishop, Queen, and a Pawn storm, could have created the exact “personal masterpiece” I had envisioned before the game.
The complete game