This game took place last week and following a brief discussion after the match Chris kindly offered to run through it for me. In fact he did more than that and produced the following annotated game.
This game contains no brilliancies or particularly clever moves and of itself it isn’t particularly interesting – winding down to a draw after an exchange of queens on the 15th move. But what it might offer is an example of how poor piece placement during the opening moves and a failure to appreciate the pawn structure can hamstring you later on. As we will see I ended up with a particularly sorry pair of bishops that could offer no support to my other pieces.
My own observation is that I should have played c5 on the14th move to release my white squared bishop with a discovered attack on White’s centre.
Forrest,Brian - Dee,Neil [B06]
Manchester Summer league vs Bury Marple (1), 29.08.2019
1.e4 d6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.h3 Bg7 5.Bc4 0–0 6.a3 [This move by white just seems to waste a tempo!]
6...e5 [If you play c5 here you transpose into a Sicilian Dragon position that looks good for black because the white knight on f3 blocks the usual K-side pawn advance and the pawn on a3 looks like a wasted move. Your e5 blocks your bishop on G7 and in some future situation you might want your e-pawn on e6 to block out his bishop on c4. Of course sometimes "the book" does involve putting a pawn in the way of a fianchettoed bishop, but there needs to be a very good reason for doing so.]
7.d3 c6 [During the opening phase, the biggest priority is to get your minor pieces established on decent squares, secure your king and connect your rooks and deal with pawn structure as all this is underway. Your white square bishop already starts to look like a problem piece. You might consider Re8 then Be3 to exchange it off with his WSB. If meanwhile he puts his knight on d5, you can then play c6 to drive it away without loss of tempo.]
8.0–0 [Another pawn move whilst your Q side pieces remain at home and his WSB will be perfectly happy on a2 Meanwhile b5 has not helped your pawn structure.]
8...b5 9.Ba2 Bb7 [Your WSB has very little future on this square. It would be better on e6 after appropriate preparation. Another placement to have considered earlier on was on a6, supported by your knight. Generally speaking, in opening/middle game positions where there are no tactics going on, the best thing to do is to seek moves that improve piece placement or create outposts for minor pieces to settle on.]
10.Ne2 Nbd7 11.Ng3 d5 12.Nh2 dxe4 [The series of exchanges starting here leave your BSB still imprisoned and your K-side knight with hardly any squares to go to. Meanwhile his pieces have better activity. I quite like the look of d4 followed by a Q-side pawn advance that would give you a big Q-side space advantage and might be hard for him to cope with.]
13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14.dxe4 Nf6 15.Qxd8 Raxd8 16.f3 Rd7 [Doubling rooks at this point looks sensible on the surface but looking more generally, the placement and hence activity of your minor pieces is awful! For example you might think about how to improve your knight - is there a square where it could be more effective? e6 looks pretty good to me and it could go via e8 & c7. If white plays Bg5, you can block with f6 strengthening your e-pawn. Your BSB will probably escape via f8 and perhaps go to c5 supported by then by your knight.]
17.c3 Rfd8 18.Bg5 h6 19.Bh4 g5 20.Bf2 a6 21.h4 Rd2 [Getting a rook on the 7th is always tempting but the real priority is still to activate your minor pieces. White's piece activity means that your rooks won't do any damage on their own and they really are on their own! Your rooks are well placed as they are so Ne8 to get the knight towards a better square looks a lot more constructive to me.]
22.Rab1 Re2 23.hxg5 hxg5 24.Rfe1 Rdd2 [This results in terrible placement of your rook after the exchanges. You needed to play RxR so as to keep your remaining rook active on the open d file.]
25.Rxe2 Rxe2 [The exchanges on the 7th have put you in a very awkward situation! You want to play Rd2 but then Be3 happens and you lose your g pawn.]
26.Ng4 [Looks like a blunder by white as it wrecks his K-side pawn structure.]
26...Nxg4 27.fxg4 Kf8 [Bc8 was much better. It starts to activate your bishop, attacks g4 and covers d7 which is a square you don't want white to occupy with his rook. I think after your move a draw is a fair outcome.]
28.Rd1 Ke7 29.Bc5+ Ke8 30.Rf1 f6 31.Be6 Rd2 32.b4 Rd8 33.Bf5 Kf7