24 January 2012

Lesson of the Week

In Saturday's Winterfest Scholastic, I offered a special prize for the most complete and neatest game scores through the first four rounds. The prize was a hard cover scorebook for recording games. As a result of the contest, I have a store of more than a dozen games from the event from which to create lessons that feature the sort of position that Spokane youth are likely to see. Sunday's "Opening Disaster: Damiano's Defense" is one such lesson.

Here are the first eleven moves of a game that Black won in thirty-seven moves. Already after the first few moves, Black has a material advantage of two pawns, more active pieces, and a safer king. Black took advantage of White's errors that began with the third move. Even so, Black missed opportunities to gain far more. The players' names remain undisclosed.

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Qf3?

Black to move

In "Opening Disaster: Damiano's Defense," 4.Qh5+ is the correct move for White. However, in the absence of a clear opportunity for attack, the queen should not move before the minor pieces have been deployed. Of course, in scholastic tournaments, players often win quickly with Scholar's Mate. They get in the habit of bringing the queen to f3 or h5 early because the idea is rewarded. In this case, Black's deployment of the knight to f6 has blocked the queen's access to f7. Time to break the unhealthy habit. 

3...Bc5 4.h4?! 0–0

I would not castle just yet, especially after my opponent has thrown his or her h-pawn forward. It might be better to castle long in this game.

Black to move

Black missed an opportunity: 5...d5 6.Qxe5 Bxf2+ 7.Kf1 (7.Kxf2 is worse, because Ng4+ wins the queen) 7...dxc4 winning a piece.

6.Qg5 Nxe4 7.Qh5
Black to move (analysis diagram)

Black could have exploited the vulnerability of White's royalty with 7...Bxf2+ 8.Kd1 (Kf1 loses the queen). And now there are two logical lines worth examining:

a) 8...Nf6 9.Qe2 Bxg1 10.Qe1 (10.Rxg1 Bg4) 10...Bb6
b) 8...Bxg1 9.Rxg1 Bg4+ 10.Qxg4 Nf2+

8.Qg5 Ng4

8...Bxf2 still has merit.

9.d3 Qxg5 10.hxg5

Black to move

10...Bxf2+ is slightly better

11.Rh4 Ng4 

The next move in the notation is Bc4-d3, which is not possible. I can possibly reconstruct the game by looking further ahead, but there's plenty of instructional value in the opening moves.

1 comment:

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