Game Analysis: When ahead, don’t overthink

This is not a ‘sexy’ lesson with a big wow-moment, but it is the sort of subtle thing which is often overlooked.

My opponent, rated 1150, made life difficult for himself out of the opening, having to displace his King and losing castling rights after 1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d3? dxe4 4.dxe4 Qxd1 5.Kxd1.

He lost a pawn shortly after and after his 19.d4, this was the position:

Black has a winning advantage and there are a few good moves here. There might be a temptation to look for a forcing continuation which converts the advantage to a win quickly, but there is no need for that. When you don’t need to calculate, don’t calculate. It wastes time and energy.

Instead, if there is a natural looking move which helps your plan (here the plan is to trade down and win the pawn-up endgame, or take advantage if a better opportunity comes along in the meantime) and is safe. Therefore 19…cxd4+ should be considered. It meets both your aims, happens to be forcing (since it is a check) and can be played almost instantly.

Continuations might be:

20.Nxd4 Be5 21.N2f3 Bxd4+ 22.Bxd4 Rac8+

20.Nxd4 Be5 21.N2f3 Bxd4+ 22.Nxd4 Nxe4+

20.Bxd4 Bf4 21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.b3 Bb5

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