Game #90 – Defending against the Larsen-Nimzowitsch attack

Game #90 - Defending against the Larsen-Nimzowitsch attack

The clock ticked down mercilessly in this 5-minute blitz game against my friend Leo here in Bellevue, Washington. Black (yours truly) had to deal with the Larsen-Nimzowitsch attack, something my opponent played in the hopes to steer the game into uncharted territory.

The early moves were fairly standard, with both sides developing their pieces. However, on move eight, I opted for the robotic move – castling. While safe, it wasn’t as effective as solidifying the center with moves like d4 or b6. This became a recurring theme throughout the game: a slight misstep on tempo that left me slightly behind the curve.

I stumbled slightly on move nine. Instead of exploiting the opportunity for 9…Nxe4!, I played b6, which, while defending the c5 pawn and prepping Bb7, ultimately proved too slow. Taking control of the center with e5 would have been a much more effective strategy.

The decision to fianchetto the bishop on b7 with 10…Bb7 seemed reasonable at the time. However, a deeper look revealed a flaw: Leo’s immediate e5 would have pushed back my knight and opened the door for the future cramping moved, d4. This, in turn, would have locked my bishop behind the light squares, highlighting the importance of calculating variations before committing to a seemingly innocuous move.

Despite these early missteps, I managed to maintain a slight advantage for a good portion of the game. This is where another crucial lesson emerged: avoiding unnecessary trades. Capturing his pawn with 11…Nxd5, while seemingly logical, allowed for the trade of the dark-squared bishops, taking some pressure off of Leo’s position. In hindsight, a more aggressive approach such as capturing with the queen to avoid trades might have been more fruitful.

The turning point arrived with Leo’s 15th move, Ncd2. While seemingly harmless, it created a weak square on c3. Seizing this opportunity, I played Nc3, effectively trapping his queen. This critical blunder serves as a stark reminder: always be on the lookout for weak squares your opponent might offer. Exploiting them can lead to a decisive advantage, as it did in this game.

This blitz battle against Leo was a whirlwind of missed opportunities and a harsh lesson (for him) in the importance of precise calculation and aggressive play. While the final result was a win, the experience provided valuable insights that will serve me well in future games. The next time I face a similar situation, I’ll strive to solidify the center early, calculate variations deeply, and avoid unnecessary trades. And, of course, I’ll be extra vigilant in spotting those weak squares – they might just hold the key to victory.