28 January 2017

Breaking Bad Habits

Against the London System with the Black pieces, I frequently find myself in this position.

White to move

My opponents have tried several moves. Generally, my score is very good, unless they let me take the b-pawn.

5.Nc3 Qxb2?

Or sometimes 5.Nc3 cxd4 6.exd4 Qxb2?

In both lines, I fail to anticipate White's reply Nb5.

This habit of snatching the poisoned pawn should always be punished, but sometimes my opponents also err. A couple of days ago, I won a short game from this position because my opponent answered my errors his own. The result is an instructive miniature that might be termed more appropriately a blunderfest. Neither player's moves should be emulated.

Internet Opponent (1993) -- Stripes.J (1966) [A46]
Live Chess Chess.com, 26.01.2017

1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Qb6 5.Nc3 cxd4 6.exd4 Qxb2?


7.Nb5 Bb4+

Realizing that I had blown it once again, I lashed out desperately.

White to move


8.Bd2 Bxd2+ 9.Nxd2 0–0 10.a3 a6 11.Rb1 Qa2 12.Bc4 Qxb1 13.Qxb1 and White has a clear edge.

8...Bxc3+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 

9...Qa1 favors Black

10.Nxd2 Na6?

10...O-O was necessary


11.a3 was also possible.

11...Qxa2 12.Ra1 Qb2

White to move


There was no reason to give up a rook to win a rook. 13.Qa4 leaves White with a superior game.

13... bxa6 14.Nc7+ Ke7 15.Nxa8 Bb7 16.Nc7 Rc8 17.Nxa6 Rc1 0–1

When my opponents fail to punish errors, these errors may be repeated in future games. Over time, bad moves become habits that can be difficult to alter in similar positions. When such errors are punished the first time they are played, or when every game in carefully analyzed with an eye for the refutation of dubious looking moves, these bad habits are less likely to develop.

Once established, however, bad habits can become the cause of many painful losses. I must stop eating the poisoned pawn.

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