Anatoly Karpov was once quoted as saying that one of his interests in chess was in paradoxical positions (he was a fan of endgame studies). This game got like that in the end, when I was unfortunately in time-pressure, literally playing on the increment.
In the 2…Nf6 Scandinavian Opening, the quietest choice of lines for White may have simply been 3.Bb5+ Bd7, 4.Bc4 when White faces little danger of losing, and should be on top for a while.
Instead, I tried a line I had never played before but always kind of wanted to see, and that is after 3…Bg4, 4.Be2. I had tried 4.f3 before, and Black got a great attack; in fact it was against Teah where she lost her queen, but it was a tough game. OTB, I almost played 4.Nf3 in order to transpose into normal lines, but then realized that it could be met by 4….BxNf3, 5.QxB Qxd5, trading down early.
Even though I had seen her moves coming, I was still startled at how tactical that this opening became, and so it unfortunately consumed a lot of time on my clock – would not have wanted to see this in a rapid game for the first time.
9.a3, My longest move of the game. My original plan had been to play either 9.Ng3 or 9.Nf4, but Black will not trade queens but rather post his queen on g6 or f5 in response, to keep control over the light-squares.
9…e5. I was happy to see this move, and quickly played 10.d5 without even bothering to analyze it properly, since I didn’t really believe in her …e5 move on a gut/surface level.
OTB, 13…Nxc3 seemed, and is strongest, yet I quickly sort of dismissed it as being likely to be played as (besides my being forced into this variation) doubted that she would give up her queen for the two rooks, even though it is indeed good for Black.
16.Qa8+ Me and Alex both thought that the exchange sac on d7 was probably winning for White, but in fact it is bad with best play and better for Black. The biggest problem here was that I kept looking for a tactic, hence why I played the easily defended against short-term Nb5 move, instead of the long-term Nd5 move. Simply put, I was looking for cheapo tactics and mates. I considered 18.Nd5, but dismissed it due to 18….Bc5, and that is really short-term thinking, since the Nd5 can be supported by c4, and b4-b5 would kick the Bc5. It’s funny, chess is a balance where you can’t get too focused on short-term tactics nor on long-term strategy. You have to find the times when the position is calling for a tactic versus when it is calling for a simple, strategic, positional improvement. 18.Red1, attacking the unprotected e-pawn, is also a strong move.
23…f3? It appears that I am strengthening e4, but in fact am weaking the king’s position and dark squares surrounding it.