GM Bryan Smith: Cumulative Inaccuracies


This week I will show a couple of instructive excerpts from my games from a small local tournament, the Bruce Alberston Memorial, which took place in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on March 22nd.


In the second round I faced a player rated around 1900. It was interesting to see how a game begun in a wholly correct way could precipitously go downhill as a result of a few inaccuracies.

After fourteen moves we reached this position:

Diagram 1

White now played


While White’s previous play could hardly be questioned, this move was the first which looked dubious. The move g2-g4 could play a part in an attack on the kingside (for example, driving the knight away with g4-g5), but it also could be unnecessary. It looks most natural to begin with 15.Bh6, because in any event the dark-squared bishop must be exchanged. It may turn out that the knight from f6 could be removed by a Nd5 move, and that g2-g4 would not be needed. At the same time, g2-g4 could always be played later.

I responded by


In this variation Black can provoke b2-b3 by playing …Qb6, which was possible here. However, I considered that b2-b3 would be unavoidable for White anyway and would come about after, for example, a doubling of the rooks by …Rb6 and …Rfb8. The queen, meanwhile, would not have been able to stay on b6.

White now played


This was another inaccuracy. In this variation, White should not play this move too soon. The capture on g6 gives Black the square f7 to defend with the rook. It shows White’s hand unnecessarily soon, when there was no question of Black capturing on h5.



Diagram 2: Position After 16…fxg6


was far too direct. It was time for defensive measures such as 17.Kb1. I responded with


which created an unanswerable threat to b2, now that the Nc3 is unguarded after b2-b3.

White played


still single-mindedly aiming at the target on h7. However, the threat is easily defended, and in many cases even illusory, while Black’s threats are real. 18.Nd5 would have been met by 18…Qxb2+ 19.Kd2 Nxd5, when 20.Qxh7+ Kf7 leads nowhere – Black even threatens to trap the intruder by 21…Rh8.

I now played


Given time, this would allow White to break up the kingside, but White does not have time. White again continued directly with


If instead 19.gxh5 then I planned 19…Qxb2+ 20.Kd2 Ng4!, which opens up an attack on d4 and wins for Black. 19.Bxf6 was even worse, though, exchanging the dark-squared bishop, which is so important in the Dragon. After


White played


defending the knight on d4 in the event of …Qxb2+ Kd2, and also hoping to attack g6 after gxh5. The immediate 20.gxh5 would have been met in the same way.

Diagram 3: Position After 20.Qg1

I now played


which forced an immediate win. Since 21.Kb1 Qxb2# is checkmate, White played


The game finished with


22.Kd1 Qxc3

and White resigned due to the threats of 23…Rb1+ as well as 23…Qxd2#.




Grandmaster Bryan Smith grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Some of his accomplishments include first place in the 2008 National Chess Congress, 2009 National Chess Congress, 2010 Philadelphia International, and 2011 Limpedea Cup. He was a weekly columnist on for several years Bryan is the first-ever Grandmaster from Alaska.


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