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I've been playing some computer opponenets and apparently there are some really basic strategies I'm just plain missing.

If you can, try playing some human opponents. They will play differently than the computer does. Among other things, they won't always repeat the same game when they get into the same line of the same opening.

A computer may be programmed to play weakly, but it won't overlook something it's been programmed to see. Its tactics will be accurate unless it has been deliberately programmed to randomly miss things sometimes. You get no relief from a long game, because the computer doesn't get tired.

The way you beat a computer is typically to play a deeper game than it does. For simple programs, this might mean seeing a four and a half move combination when the computer only looks ahead three moves. For programs that look further ahead on forced move sequences, this means playing a good positional game while avoiding a tactical loss.

So, what do we have from your game?

1. e4 a5

The computer doesn't have an opening book.

2. d3

Very unaggressive. Blocks the natural diagonal for your light-square bishop, and you don't want to fianchetto the bishop because of the pawn at e5. Moves for a beginner to consider in this position would include d4, Nf3, Nc3, or Bc4.

2. . . . b5

No book, no plan, and not programmed to try to control the center.

3. f3?

Opens a diagonal pointing at your king, takes up the most natural square for developing your King's Knight, and adds protection to a pawn that didn't need further protection. I like Nf3 better, but theres a case to be made for d4.

3. . . . d5

Begging you to play 4. exd5 Qxd5 Nc3 and gain a tempo to further develop your pieces.

4. Bf4 f5

exd5 is still there.

5. h4

Planning to develop the rook to h3. This is a bad plan. The rook doesn't do anything you need done on the third rank, and you further weaking the Kingside pawns that you would normally want to castle behind.

5. . . . dxe4

Forcing you to play 6. fxe4 or lose a pawn. If 6. . . . fxe4, then 7. Qh5+ g6 8. Qxb5+ Bd7 9. Qe5 winning the kingside rook. If 7. . . . Kd7, then 8. Qd5+ wins the queenside rook. More likely, Black plays 6. . . . g6 to defend the check, and the game continues 7. exf5 Bxf5.

6. Rh3

Putting the rook on a bad square and dropping a pawn. You now can't play fxe5 because when the computer retakes, he uncovers a bishop attack on your rook. Then you have to move the rook and he takes another pawn.

6. . . . Qd4

The computer found a better way to take that pawn you dropped.

7. Rh1 Qxb2
8. Nd2 exf3

I'd rater play 8. . . . exd3, giving White an isolated Q pawn and leaving the White pawn on f3 to prevent the knight from going to its most natural sqaure. But more than that, Black should work on developing more pieces than just the queen. He's up two pawns, so it's time to get conservative and consolidate the advantage.

9. gxf3?

I like Ngxf3 better, putting the knight on its most natural square, leaving the g-pawn where it belongs, and salvaging what you can of a safe haven for your king.

9. . . . a4

Premature. Black should work on developing pieces.

10. Bh3 h5

Another pointless pawn move by the computer.

11. Bxf5?

Oops. Dropping the bishop from chess blindness, and forcing the computer to actually develop a piece.

11. . . . Bxf5

At this point, you're down a piece and a pawn, but about to get the pawn back. The computer doesn't have to play well to win. He only has to avoid losing material, trade pieces off, promote a pawn, and mate you from being up a queen. But that's a human plan. The computer isn't going to play that way.

12. Bxc7 Qc3
13. Be5? Qxe5+

Chess blindness strikes again.

14. Ne2 Qb2
15. Rb1 Qe5

I like 15. . . . Qxa2 16. Rxb5 e6 better, creating a passed pawn for Black and opening a diagonal to develop the other bishop. But the computer isn't fond of development.

16. f4 Qd5
17. Rg1 b4

I'm beginning to think the computer is programmed to push a pawn at random when it doesn't see a tactical combination.

18. Rg5 Qh1+
19. Ng1 Qxh4+
20. Kf1 Qxf4+
21. Ngf3

After all my harping about f3 being the natural square for this knight, at this point perhaps Ndf3 would build a little better place for the king to hide and force the computer to win the slow way.

21. . . . Bh3+
22. Ke1

Kf2 would leave fewer holes for the Black queen to exploit.

22. . . . Qe3+
23. Qe2 Qf4

The human plan would be to trade queens, develop pieces, win pawns, trade pieces, and easily win the endgame.

24. Rb5 Qg3+
25. Qf2 Qf4
26. R1xb4 Qf6

Dropping a piece to 27. Rxb8+ Rxb8 28. Rxb8+ Kf7 and the idea is for White to keep the Black kingside pieces bottled up and try to salvage a draw through a tactical trick or a perpetual check. If the computer blunders and plays 28. . . . Kd7 you continue 29. Qh7+ Ke6 (or Kc6 or Kd6) 30 Rb6+, winning a queen for a rook and having good chances of winning the game.

27. Rb1 Na6
28. Ke2 g5

Dropping a pawn to 29. Rxg5, which also maneuvers the rook towards defending the king's position.

29. Qh2 Bd7

Practically forcing you to play 30. Rxg5, winning a pawn.

30. R1b4 Nxb4

The computer could also play Bxb5, but he'd rather give up a knight for the rook than a bishop.

31. Rxb4 e5

Finally opeing a line for the dark-square bishop. There can't be much left in this game for White.

32. Re4 Ne7
33. d4 Nc8
34. dxe5

I'd be inclined to try 34. Rxe5+ in the probably vain hope of getting the Black king into the open and finding a perpetual check. The computer shouldn't let this happen, but it's been making some pretty pointless moves at times.

34. . . . Qf5
35. Rc4 Bb5

and the computer has enough material that it won't play badly enough to give up a draw. After this point I begin to have some trouble making sense of your notation, but there can't be much left in the game anyway.

Is there any hope for me?

Sure, there's hope. You need to learn to watch what's protected and what isn't, i.e. to pay attention more consistently. You need to learn some basic opening principles. Maybe read a beginner's book or two. And try to find some humans to play. It's easier to learn to make sensible moves when you see your opponent making sensible moves instead of pushing pawns at random in the absence of a plan.

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