Boo, yet another dream of a perfect T4545 season has died.
Now that I'm pretty happy with the Slav against d4, the only malleable place left in my openings is the French. I finally got so sick of being messed with in it that I just started playing the exchange for awhile, and promised myself I'd go back later and relearn to play against it with a fresh start.
Well, it's later, and I booked up a little on the Tarrasch in advance of this game.
Of course, the second I go out of book, I get into trouble.
11. Bg5 is fine as it induces h3, but I think a straight Bf4 looks better in retrospect.
13. a3 is the beginning of the real problems. I love my bishop too much to allow Nb4. That's a two-fold problem. First, the bishop isn't so key to the main theme, which is controlling the e5 square and refusing to allow the pawn on e6 to go forward and free black's pieces. Second, even if I wanted to do keep that bishop against Nb4, Rc1 (planning Bb1 in response to Nb4) is a way better way to do it. I swear, if I removed all a3/h3/a6/h6 moves from my games entirely, it'd do more good than harm.
14. Bh4 just gives black everything he wants. He gets the e5 freeing move in, which I was convinced he didn't want because of the structural problems it creates for him and solves for me. But that's silly, because the piece activity is plenty of compensation, and that's the same sort of plan I was playing for.
15. probably could have been Qb3, there's some interesting stuff there and play remains double-edged.
17. f4 would have been a big improvement. I looked at it and decided Bxb2/Rb1 Bxa3/Rxb7 wasn't enough compensation for the pawn, but I missed that Ra2 instead of b1 traps the bishop so Bxb2 isn't playable.
About a minute after I played Rb1 I realized what was incoming, but it was too late to stop it. I probably would have been better off just playing Kh1 in response and letting him have the pawn, but it was all bad anyway.
It's funny that I've taken some pride lately in how accurate I can play in positions I know, but the moment I get into an opening where my opponent is familiar with themes and I wasn't, I just got crushed. But next time I will be familiar.