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. :-(