Proceed with caution at all times

Proceed with caution at all times

Beginners and amateurs are often confused about the way to proceed when a chess game is evenly balanced. In such cases even though a draw might appear the logical conclusion, care has to be taken that the position remains equal after each and every move.

Of course there are positions in which a player can try and stretch with a safe approach but even the slightest carelessness can result in a loss.

In the game which follows, there is material and positional balance in the middle-game and just when a draw looms large, White plays an innocuous looking queen move, which completely disturbs the balance of the game. Black gets a strong advantage and then surprisingly both fail to play accurately and finally black wins the game.

White: Ruediger Seger (2412) – Black: Ullrich Krause (2263)

Altenkirchen, 1999
French Defence
1.e4 e6
The French Defence
2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6. The Tarrasch variation of the French defence
4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4 8.cxd4 Qb6 9.Nf3 f6
If 9. ..Bb4+  10.Bd2
10.exf6 Nxf6 11.0–0 Bd6 12.Nc3 0–0 13.Be3 Bd7.
14.Rc1 Kh8. If 14...Rac8 15.Ne5 Be8 16.Qd2 Ne7 17.f3
15.Ne5. If 15.Na4 Qc7  16.Bd2 Bb4 and if 15.a3 Rac8 16.Na4 Qd8 17.Nc5
15...Be8 16.Na4. If 16.Nb5 Be7 17.Qd2
16...Qa5 17.Nxc6
White had a better move in 17.Bd2 Qd8  18.Nc5 Bxc5
17. ..Bxc6 18.Nc3
Also playable is 18.Nc5
18. ..e5 19.Bf5 Rae8 20.a3 a6
Cautious moves by both!
21.Qd2 Qc7 22.g3. White can think of 22.dxe5 Rxe5  23.Bh3 Ree8  24.g3 Ne4
22. ..Qf7 23.f3 Qh5 24.Bc2
White can play 24.Bd3
24. ..Nd7 25.Qg2
White had a better option in 25.Qd1 Re6  26.f4 Qxd1  27.Rcd1 e4  28.Rc1 Nb6
25. ..exd4 26.Bxd4 Ne5. Here Black had a better move in 26. ..Nc5
 27.f4 Nc4. The game is evenly balanced at this point
28.Bd1 Qf5 29.Bc2 Qh5 30.Bd1 Qf5 31.Bc2 Qd7. A good move!
Diagram 1

This move disturbs the balance of the game and gives advantage to black. White should have played 32.Bb1 Be7  33.g4 Bf6
32. ..Qh3 33.Nb1

White completely fails to sense the danger. He should have tried to strengthen his defence with 33.Rf2
33...Be5. Black also misses a good continuation 33...Ne3 34.Bxe3 d4 35.Qf2 (35.Bf5 Qxf5 36.Rxc6 Rxe3) 35...Rxe3 36.Bd1 Bxf4 37.Rxc6 Rxg3+ 38.hxg3 Be3

If 34.Qc3 Bxd4+ 35.Qxd4 Re2 36.Rf2 Rfe8
34...Rxf3 35.Rxf3 Kg8
Black has won White’s queen for a rook and bishop
36.Rcf1 g6 37.Rf7. White’s rook invades the seventh rank but it is a mistake!. He should have played 37.Re1 Bd7
37...Nxe5. Black was simply winning with 37...Ne3 38.R7f2 (38.Bxe3 d4 39.R7f2 dxe3 40.Bb3+ Kh8 41.Rc2 Be4 42.Re2 Bd3) 38...Nxf1 39.Rxf1 Bb5
It is turning out to be a blunderfest! White once again errs with this move when he should have played  38.Bxg6 hxg6 (38...Nxf7 39.Bxf7+ Kf8 40.Bh5+ Kg8) 39.Bxe5 Qh6 (39...Qxf1+ 40.Rxf1 Rxe5) 40.Rg7+ Qxg7 41.Bxg7 Kxg7
38...Rxe5–+ 39.Bxg6 Re2
If 39...hxg6 40.Rf8+ Kg7 41.R1f7+ Kh6 42.Rh8+
40.Bxh7+ Kh8  and White resigned for if 40...Kh8 41.Rf8+ Kxh7 42.R1f7+ Kg6 43.Rf6+ Kg5
Diagram 2
White to play and win
1.Bxc6 bxc6 2.Rd1 Rad8 3.Bc1 Qb5 4.Bxd2 and White wins

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