What a great game today! I played against my “arch nemesis”, Sid Anjilvel. Although I’m higher rated in the longer games, we’re usually quite even in the short rapid or blitz games. And we’ve developed a familiarity of playing each other, which I don’t have with other players. We basically know the playing styles of each other.

Anyway, true to form, Sid opens with the Polish opening (also known as the Sokolsky). I’m very familiar with this opening, having used it multiple times in previous years. I also know that although it’s aggressive, theoretically, it has some weaknesses. For the first time, I tried to use some theory against this opening.

I managed to win a pawn early in the opening (at move 3, actually). I also controlled a lot of space on the Queen-side with my pawns, which restricted White’s development. White had some opportunities to undermine my pawn structure early on the Queen side, but a late attack and some tactics later lead to my being up the exchange. At move 18, I was up a rook for a knight.

Black had some compensation for the exchange though. Black’s pawn structure on the Queen side was fragmented and difficult to protect. Knowing that White would not survive a slow end game, White opted for a full King-Side attack after both sides castled on the King side. White also managed to keep most of Black’s pieces locked away on the Queen-side, away from all the action.

Black played cautiously to retain the advantage. After all, in theory, once White’s attack was subdued, Black should be able to counter attack quite easily. By the end of move 35, White was down an entire knight with no checks left.

However, by this time, White gained a huge time advantage. White successfully introduced a lot of complications to the position, and the tone of play was for more aggressive moves. Although I was playing cautiously (trying to avoid blunders and miscalculations), I was still playing tactically and aggressively. And the aggressive style of the game got the better of me. At move 36, I took a free pawn, thinking that White was out of attacks. And at move 38, I was checkmated.

Overall, a very good game. I don’t enjoy losing, of course. But the game itself was very exciting. I think I played very well up to move 36. And I quite enjoyed a more aggressive, and a more tactically challenging game. But tactical games are usually double-edged, and can go either way, no matter how much of an advantage you think you have.

My key takeaways from this game:

  • Don’t let the opponent dictate the style of play. In this case, I let Sid’s aggressive style get the better of me. In my previous slow games with Sid, I played positionally, and waited for him to make the first mistake.
  • Don’t be complacent when you think you’re winning. I thought White was out of moves, but being prudent almost always helps. And it would’ve helped in this case.
  • It’s always hard to think under time pressure. So don’t wait till the end of the game to think fast. Think on the opponent’s time early on in the game, whenever possible. But don’t skimp on checking for blunders and miscalculations.

I’ll get you next time, Sid!

Game PGN and commentary are located here: