This is another 15|10 game on Chess.com. I had the White pieces, and my opponent played a Sicilian Kan. Despite the back-and-forth blunders in this game, we can take some important lessons away from this game.
See below the video for some takeaway lessons (they include spoilers, so watch the video first if you prefer to not know some of the points beforehand).
It’s not always possible of course, but look for ways to move forward rather than moving backward. Moving forward often creates threats and pressure on your opponent, disrupting his development, piece placement, plan, or some combination thereof. If I had done this in the opening, I might have found Nf5. Look at Tal’s games for examples: he always seemed to move forward no matter what!
Pattern Recognition Can Help and Hurt You
Try not to let your mind be dominated by patterns. White’s Knight often goes to b3 in Sicilian games, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best square. Indeed, it often isn’t the best square, and perhaps it is a mistake for Black to let it go to the fourth or fifth rank. If I hadn’t gotten stuck in this pattern, I might have found Nf5.
If you feel that you are starting to lose the advantage, don’t despair! I started to lose hope in the middle after I realized that I hadn’t punished my opponent’s somewhat weak opening play, and I failed to look hard enough to find Nb6, winning an exchange.
Play the Position
You can’t always go for a quick kill. This caught me early in the game. I went for a sharp move that allowed a tactical response that let my opponent essentially equalize the position, when I could have just slowly built up more pressure. He would have eventually had to answer difficult questions about King safety, but I went in too fast.
Know Your Openings
I still haven’t studied the Kan and what White’s plans are. Although I have some of the basic ideas (e.g., organizing Kingside activity, trying to undermine Black’s Queenside pawns), I haven’t looked over enough lines to see the patterns and follow-up to different moves. I don’t like to memorize tons of variations, but some knowledge of the opening is helpful to know why some move orders are less accurate and how you can exploit them. I think that, especially in the Kan, this is important, because both sides have more nuanced plans than in some other, sharper Sicilian lines.
Don’t get too relaxed after winning a Queen. I can’t tell you how many times this has caused me a problem. In this situation, I often just try to simplify too quickly because, in my mind, my opponent is lost. Your opponent can still get counterplay (and often does), so be careful. Chess is basically a game of war, and you usually have to pressure him precisely, right to the last move, to ensure the victory.
Manage Your Time
Even with the 10-second increment, I used up way too much time, and when the position got critical toward the end, I didn’t have much time to consider moves that needed precision. I rushed myself a bit too much as well, but the low time didn’t help.