Pikes Peak Open 2015

Round 1

My opponent said he was rated around 1265 (the USCF server seems to go down after midnight).

Round 2

The first two rounds were G/90, so I whizzed through part of this game too quickly.  I knew that he was going to answer 9.g4? with …Qa5 after I had made my move, and I should have played 9.Kb1.  My Be2 move was lame as well, since as you can see his ‘bolt from the blue’ would not have worked had I initially moved it to d3 (Bd3).

I also regretted not playing 6.g4 instead of 6.Qd2.

I knew that 13.BxNa6 was winning his pawn before he even walked down this road, but decided to try to control the game, never suspecting his bishop was developing to g4 with sac!

I blundered at the end, but he said that even after 26.Nxf7, he would have the same response in 26…RxBe3+!, and I don’t believe that 26.Qh3 was going anywhere, so simply lost.  When I took his bishop, I did see his Nxe4-c3+, but missed that he was forking my rook.  How lazy!  He probably would have won with that pawn, anyway.

Round 3

If you thought that this was the strangest game ever, and that his accepting my draw offer was strange (he spent around 20 minutes on it), what was stranger is that we played it out in the post-mortem all the way down to my knight vs his two pawns and I drew it.  Craziest post-mortem draw I’ve ever seen!  Mutual king-hunt where I kept offering a piece to force a draw.

I didn’t learn his rating until I got home.  If I had realized my opponent was so much lower-rated, I would have played it more conservatively and given him a chance to go wrong on the attack.

Actually, I missed this OTB, but it seems winning for Black after 31.Ke2 Qg2+, 32.Rf2 Qg4+, 33.Nf3 NxN, 34.RxN Nxe5, 35.Qf1 g5, 36.Qh3 QxR, 37.QxQ NxQ, 38.KxN g4 – saw that the queen is covering d4 while going over the game at home.  The passed pawn duo can’t be chased, and the Black king can walk in to gobble the pawns which are on light-squares.

July Final Round Games

Tuesday Final Round

Wednesday Final Round

From 1793 to 1820, then back to 1788 all in the same month is a real disappointment.  Even though I shouldn’t be playing for rating points, it shows how performance based that my rating is.

First game of the week, I play well.  Second game of the week (the next day), I meander, miss simple winning shots, make simple game-losing blunders, clearly not the same player.  On Sunday through Wednesday nights, I got only a few hours of sleep for each of those nights, and by Wednesday it clearly shows.

On Wednesday, I stayed an extra hour for the shift bid and got a terrible shift.  Swing Shift 3:30 pm – Midnight with Sunday and Mondays off.  So I will have one more week of days, then two weeks of some other mid-day transition shift for two weeks, and then will go to that permanent swing-shift above which will last for 6-8 months (but in reality usually lasts over a year).

Next month, there won’t be a first round on Wednesdays, and I may only be able to play in the first round on Tuesdays, and then that’s it, rather depressing.   The good news is that I will be playing the Pikes Peak Open this weekend, a five-rounder with first two games at G/90, d/5, and then G/90 Increment 30 after that.  Don’t know what I am going to do about my job, might quit it – I had a gnawing in my stomach this morning at work just thinking about it.  Besides missing chess, I don’t like the third shift, and didn’t even get an easy supervisor, just the worst shift, done it before and the new position is what I was doing before, just on the contract side versus prepay phone service, so the responsibilities would be even greater for same pay.

On the physical side, I am impressed that I focus as well as I do during my chess games, as I have not jogged since my achilles heel popped six weeks ago.  Last Sunday I wrenched my knee on same leg and it has popped out of place many times since then.  Knee will probably be fine in another week or two.  I might be able to jog in another two weeks, but it’s going to be up to my achilles heel, will see how that goes; It’s been healing slowly and well, but it’s an injury with a slow recovery time, usually 4 to 12 months for people who break theirs – mine is okay, it just feels sprained, tight.

As for the games, on move twenty-nine of Wednesday’s game, everyone but me saw that I had 29…Ne2+ winning the exchange.  Funny thing is that I was going to play it and then said to myself “Can’t he just take it, what was I thinking?”, and then analyzed other stuff, and then finally moved my queen just to support the …Ne2+ move, which then of course never happened.  I need to study tactics again, and get more sleep, and manage my time better, but it’s mostly a case of the first two.

Blunders From Equal Positions

Round 3 Tuesday

Time-pressure blunder.  He was down to 1 second on his clock at one point.

Round 4 Wednesday

10.Bxd6.  A better move to keep the tension was 10.Nc3-e2 – thought of this after the game.

23.Rxe3.  23.fxe3 seemed more accurate, but I was in time-pressure here and couldn’t make a good decision.

24…e5?!  There was no hurry to make this move, as he could sit on this position with 24…Kf8, for example.

25…e4.  Probably not a wise decision.  Again, 25…Kf8 is reasonable here.

26…g5.  I could win a pawn now, and saw this relatively quickly analyzing this part of the game for the first time afterward, just now as I plugged in the game-score.  I always like to make the ironic comment “The strongest move is the one that goes unrefuted”, and this is a great example of that as in the coming endgame this is the perfect square for that pawn.

27.b4?  Just a quick move (in time-pressure, sickeningly enough).  27.dxc bxc, 28.RxR RxR, 29.RxR NxR, 30.Bxe4 is winning.  If 27…RxR??, 28.RxR RxR, 29.c7! wins.  I saw this effortlessly now, but was super-nervous OTB due to my standing on the clock, which I used horribly in this game, but still had enough time to find this move, certainly.

29.d6? White should have fair winning chances with 24.Rd4 Rxd5, 25.RxR RxR, 26.RxR NxR, 27.Bxe4 Nf4, 28.Bxb7 Nxh3+, 29.Kf1.

31.Bxe4.  My intuition told me that 31.Rxe4 was correct, but I didn’t know why.  As it turns out, I needed to keep a pair of rooks on the board and should be fine, but after I made my move I figured out what I was in for.

33.Rd5?  Ridiculous.  I already knew that it was desirable, if not necessary to keep a pair of rooks on the board.  With that in mind, simply playing 33.Rc1! fits the bill.

After this, I knew I was lost and offered draws, and then he finally offered me a draw in the final position.  It’s strange because in the post-mortem, I let him win both my a and b-pawns, but won comfortably taking his g and f pawns.  However, there are two reasons for this:  1.He played it feebly, and 2.When I played f4, he took on f4, but if he doesn’t take on f4, then I have to play fxg5, followed by h4, and am simply lost, since he did manage to sac his knight for one of the pawns in the post-mortem.  I almost want to say that there are three types of lies:  1.Lies, 2.Damned lies, and 3.Post-mortems.  ;-)

This Week’s Games

Round 2 Tuesdays

This game lasted 87 moves, and I put in the last half from memory as it’s a waste of time to read my chicken-scratch score and this is basically nearly verbatim how it happened.

Round 3 Wednesdays

Found the title of one of those old songs that I played in my head occasionally for 20 years, not knowing any of the lyrics, but only came back on the radio recently.  It’s great to find such a song and realize you weren’t delusional imagining it

2nd North Gate Open

Last Wednesday’s Round 2 game (against a Master).

11.Bd3?? Drops a second pawn.  I had seen …Qb6 moves, but not that the Qd8 can simply take on d4.  Clearly, 11.Nc3-e4, followed by 12.c3 would have been nice, but I was fearing …f5 there.  Josh thought taking on d5 looked forced, but it gives me a bad bishop, down a pawn.  I went for the hail-Mary after that because I was tired and way too down on time.

Round 1

I was told that I had flagged by a split-second after making my move.  In any case, time-pressure had determined the game, as I had allowed him to play …h5, and then didn’t even have the decency to take his h5 pawn for my f3 pawn.

During the game, I thought that instead of 20…Kh8 that I should have played 20…Bf3 right then, but I was being super-conservative.  Little did I realize that conservative or not conservative isn’t what saves your bacon at this level, it’s doing the little defensive things right that gets that done.

Glancing at this game again, it appears that even a simple manuever such as 31.Ne4-f6, possibly followed by ….Nf6-g4 could likely save this game on the level of practical chances, putting all of that pressure in place.  I did a lot of things right up to this point, and one poor missed idea shouldn’t have negated everything so quickly.  As soon as something tough came my way in time-pressure, I coughed it up, which is why my rating was under 1800.

Round 2

6.Nc3?  6.Bc4 is the move.

16.Qb3 was more accurate.

I had planned on playing the winning variation 26.NxBd7 QxNd7, 27.Qd5 Re6, 28.Ng5, and had looked at it multiple times, but then decided to play a different combo, not seeing of course her …Be6 move.  But then once she was winning here, she got nervous, her hand started to shake and she played too defensively.

Round 3

The most disappointing game of them all.

6.Rd1 was possibly another line, but then Black plays 6…Nc6.

14.a3.  14.Bd2 is likely best.

17.b3? dropping the b4 square.  Best is probably 17.b4 followed by 18.Bb2.

18…QxBd3?  Flashy, but not accurate nor best.

22…Na3??  I saw 23.Rf2, and was going to play it, but then looked for his idea and started to think he might have something up his sleeve and believed his move (fearing 24.Nc2 and any further maneuver to come with the knight such as to b4 and then d3), then couldn’t believe that I hadn’t played 23.Rf2 immediately after I had played 23.Qb2?  I was down to around 2 minutes and 14 seconds on the clock, and was exhausted, which was unfortunate that I had let such a thing happen at this particular time-control.  With a second time-control, I should have been pulling out of this correctly, but not with the 30 seconds per move, which is so much more draining in some ways as you have to pace yourself more, energy and time.

25.g3?? loses.  25.Nf2 is still unclear, and White may still be better here.  I resigned with 6 seconds on my clock.

Round 4

I had 45 minutes remaining at the end of this game.

New Players

I played this Round 1 game against a bullet/blitz player, where this is his first regular game.  He has been playing chess for quite some time, don’t know how many years, didn’t ask about any online rating, but he’s not a kid, closer to my age, so probably for many years.

He resigned after I played my 55th move, so I simply added my post-game analysis to the end of it, and was prepared to play it OTB.  I saw this line, but only looked at 58…Kxe7?? OTB.

Alex pointed out that I missed a more immediate finish earlier with 42.Rhf1!

There was a new group of four unrated players, two whom I hadn’t seen before.  There were no upsets, as the new group somehow got paired as Black against the veteran group.

Inaccuracies

Round 1

My opponent in this game was provisionally rated at 826 after 9 games, but for example his rating was 586 after 5 games, and he said he is mid 1500’s online.  I was winning at times, but his strength was on defense and not giving me any of the easy wins I’ve become accustomed to at such ratings.  In fact, my desire to find the easy win and knowingly pass up on a winning endgame was just one of my follies.  He’s provisionally rated, so any result from this game shouldn’t affect my rating much, only his rating.

10…Nf8.  10…Ne4 could be immediately played here, and Black has equalized about as much as one could reasonably expect.

11…Bd7  I played the first ten moves on the increment, but here I spent 20 minutes gathering my thoughts on what I wanted to do with the position.  I found that it took me about half an hour actually to clear the cobwebs from the championship blitz tournament the night before – where I went 3/10.  Blitz does help me to make decisions faster, but it hurts my OTB thinking process drastically; how I think and visualize lines in my head, etc.

19…g5?!  White has drifted into this -+ position, but now I see a winning line, but decide to bypass the free pawn and clamp down for even more.  I saw that the simple 19…Re6, 20.Qg5 QxQ, 21.hxQ Rg6 (…Rh6, 22.Be2 – probably more accurate than 22.g3) would win a pawn, but I decided to be a little brash and arrogant here and hunt for more.

20…Bxg3.  Impatience, miscalculation, defiance.  Unless there is a better defense, 20…Qh6, 21.Kh2 g4, 22.h4 Qxh4+ should be a simple win for Black.

20.Re2!  If 20…Bg4, 21.Qe1! relieves quite a bit of tension for White.

25…f5?  My “arrogant” plan was in case I only got three pawns for the piece to create a “pawn-wave” as is Master Brian Wall’s famous moniker, and here I was caught busy with both how to implement this plan and moving too quickly on the clock to see that Black has a simple -+ position after 25…Bc4 followed by 26…Be6 winning the exchange.  But now, in the game, I spot this too late, as ….f5 gave White this checking resource to get out of it.

29…Rf8?  29…Qg6 looks much more accurate, but White just as surprisingly backs off from an attack with 31.Qh5-d1.

32…h5.  Here I was goading White to sac the exchange on c4, as I did not want to get into a passive position on the queenside after 32…Be6.

34.Qe2.  I was quite worried that White would play 34.Qc2 and take on c4 with the bishop instead, so was relieved to see this idea of taking with the queen, OTB.

36….QxQ.  I considered playing 36…Qd5, but was worried about what might happen, with potentially surrendering an attack to Black.  Expert Paul A. liked 36…Qd5 and if 37.Qa6 with idea of 38.Bc4, Black can back off with …Qd7, but this looks like opening a Pandora’s Box to me, which I was not keen on doing against such a lower-rated player.

42.Kh2!  I was so confident of victory here that I had squandered precious minutes for no reason, as if to gloat over what I expected to happen next.  After he defended his position so nicely, I didn’t have the clock as a resource to try all over again either.

I proposed a draw as I did not see the point in venturing on without a second time-control, and he had practically demonstrated already that he was playing for a draw on his part.  Also, I was down to 1:59 at games end to his 13 minutes, and his resolved to defend, body language, seemed very strong to me OTB.  He’s not a kid, he’s in the Air Force.

Observers thought that I could play on with 53…a5, but I spent a good hour and a half with Paul A going over this ending, and it swung back and forth over the course of different tries win-lose-draw.  In one line, White was simply up the bishop pair and yet losing to the king and pawn ending.  In another try/line, the White rook got stuck on a8 with a pawn on a7 and the bishop and b8 protecting it, which was an easy win for White.  We went back and forth over this, and Paul is excellent with king positioning, knowing when and where to position his king, and usually looks to make a king move first.  There were all kinds of crazy results and resources which we found in this type of a “shootout”, but you are taking on a lot of liability to play on in this sort of position, and unfortunately Paul’s skill seemed to favor Black and my skills seemed to favor White, unlike in the game.

The only strange occurance which happened in this game is when he played 13.a3, and then I didn’t notice it for maybe five or eight minutes, was rather zoned out still from the night before.  Also, I work weekdays now until early to mid August.  I asked him if it was my move, he said nothing, then I said I thought it was his moved and he responded that he was surprised to hear that, so I hit his clock, but then he showed me a3 after I asked him for his last move, and then I hit the clock again.  I was feeling sort of out of it, and Shirley the TD happened to be watching all of this, so this is the explanation of what happened, but my opponent was okay with it in any event.

I didn’t have any caffeine right before nor during the game, so that I could go home and go to sleep afterwards, but that didn’t happen of course, once I was invited to the bar.  Alex left the bar early in order to go straight home and go to bed, said he was feeling tired, and I have not heard from him since.  :-(