Some More Unpleasantries
My opponent here is playing a rather untheoretical English, and I'm not sure if a c6+d5 pawn structure was the best idea against it. Hard to say. Then, I don't really know if it would have been better to exchange e for f.
Once the kings are castled, tension will build against the black center, and I needed to have some kind of a better sense of where my pieces could go to support it. Maybe I had to have the e-file clear so I could play Re8? If I just play something like exf3 here on move 9, my opponent plays 10.Bxf3 followed by Qb3 and/or Nf4 to gang up on d4. But maybe there's something tactical here. Perhaps I can really irritate him by playing 10...Nb4 11.0-0 Nc2 12.Rb1... maybe I can get a repetition... I'm not really buying it. BTW, if he swung over Qa4+ at some point to snag the Nb4, I think I can just play Qd7. Okay, maybe 9... exf3 10.Bxf3 Bb4 That seems more useful than Be7, but what about 11.a3? Maybe just 11...Bxc3 12.Nxc3. I don't think that bxc3 is good for him because of how it blocks out his bishop, though it might have potential to give him a menacing center. Then 12...0-0 and maybe I'm good. Hmmm
13.Nc3Here, having left the center to the whims of chance, I find myself in trouble. Because I have the Be7 instead of having played that bishop elsewhere, I can't support my strongpoint on e4. It's precisely the kind of strategic mess I have a tendancy to get myself into because I will play through an opening with only a rudimentary sense of structures, and then find that my pieces are somehow not coordinating appropriately. Here, if 13...Nxc3 14.bxc3 the difference from the previous position I looked at with bxc3 is that black has no fast ability to pressurize the backward e-pawn. That means that white will be able to push it and liquidize it probably, giving him a monopoly on the center and a passed pawn to shove up my gut. I have to look at this more to determine if it's truly fatal, but at the time, I thought it was losing for me. I played
13...Re8, hoping that the threat of Bg5 would be helpful, but...
And I was out of ideas and facing an ugly defense. I managed to scrounge a draw, but he should have won.