Originally posted by caa55
Yea, I was sweating bullets on that one. It seems to me my early move of e4 rather than e3 caused my pieces to get discombobulated and I struggled the whole way thru until he blundered. But, I had to work that mess out with the OTB/bits. No way I could have pulled it off in my head. He should have won.
Allow me to offer a few thoughts on your game. Not exactly advice -- for that would presume too much, including an expertise that doesn't exist on my part -- but some feedback.
Always consider pawn structure in the opening. When you make a pawn move, only do so because it advances your strategic plans. Don't do so because it has good stats in a database (in fact, don't use opening databases), or because some expert player whom you admire plays it.
For example, when you're playing the English, as here, you have two basic responses after 1...c5; 2.c4 or 2.e4. Now, you played 1.Nf3 to prevent 1...e4, but you want to control the center in general, so you'd like to make discourage 2...d4. Either 2.c4 or 2.e4 allows you to discourage 2...d4 because after (for example) 3. cxd4, 3...Qxd4 is awkward because of 4.Nc3 developing with tempo by attacking the queen.
So the question at this point is, what kind of development does c4 and e4 give? 2.c4 only frees your queen. 2.e4 frees your king's bishop, and since you have already developed your king's knight, you are giving yourself a chance to develop your kingside and castle early. This is important if you like to open up the board early, as you seem to with 3.d4. Note also that 2.c4 takes a square that your king's bishop might go to; whereas 2.e4 does not block the development of any piece. So, if you like the idea of playing the 1.Nf3 opening aggressively, after 1...c5 2.e4 makes more sense to me. The player with the a safe king and comparatively advanced development is the one who (often) benefits more from opening the center.
Now, looking at the move 3.d4, ask yourself why make this move. Don't push wood just to get a pawn in the center. You want to control the center, and preferably (perhaps) get two pawns in the center. The question is how can the pawns be defended and do this. You can't play f3 and after c4 and e4 the move d3 is dubious because your king's bishop is hemmed in, and playing g2 to fianchetto it involves yet another pawn move, while meanwhile your opponent may be developing pieces (and besides, your bishop on g2 would be blocked by your own pawn on e4). So playing e4 gives you in effect an isolated pawn that is hard to defend.
Another argument against 3.d4 is that you are trying to build an advantage in the opening. Simply trading off your developed pieces without a plan to turn piece exchanges into a positional or tactical advantage, is simply playing for a draw. Edit: I'm not saying that such an exchange can't do this, under better circumstances, but here I'm not sure this is the case. Would it be better to play e3 and d4 to keep two pawns in the center? This paragraph is probably the weakest point of my feedback, so perhaps greenpawn has something to say here.
I'm running out of online time now but perhaps I'll add more another day. Meanwhile someone like greenpawn can kibbitz on my feedback, adding his own two bits.