Amazing Grace

This game was pretty much lost up until the end, in every way except one, the result.

I could not believe …Rg4 wins the pawn, I was floored. Spent about 35 minutes on Bd3. Got some vitamin-water and threw water on my face, which was feeling a little pale at that moment. Somehow I regrouped, mostly by sitting there stunned I suppose, and looking at the same variations.

I did miss what should have been a quick win with Bb5+, but castled quickly instead, and then noticed that if he plays …Bd7, which he did, that I would really be stuck for a plan. Honestly, I thought he needed to play …Rg7 to cover f7 and noticed the tactics, but then must have gotten scared by his possible ….Rxe+ threat, which Black never has time to get in.

Completely missed that I had Bd3 to combat his Bb5 pin of my queen and rook. Funny, because I did actually look for that specific move but somehow didn’t find it. By move 19, I was under 10 minutes and still hadn’t fully recovered from the opening shock. Must have had a moment of madness thinking piece trades lose, forgetting that I was up the exchange. It was such a quick move that even after I didn’t realize what I had done, such is the way of time-pressure, it appears.

As I explained to him after the game, …f5 instead of …RxRc7 would have ended things rather quickly, particularly considering my clock. I think he should have still won even after that a couple of times. I guess it began to turn into “gift win” time right around then. I have no idea how this happens other than that the man upstairs is smiling down on me.

By the end of the game, I had just under a minute and he had over 2.5 minutes left. How I have maybe 5 minutes to his 40 and then it gets to that point, I can’t say. It appears that clock time does not solve all things after all (he had considered …f6, but not …f5, which I saw right away).

I got out of my car around 2 minutes late, gate guard was just leaving since I drove by him right at 6pm (saves $2), but by the time I got in I was the last one there and had 8 minutes off of my clock. Spent 2 minutes on introductions, so yes, it was G/80 essentially. But I forgot to bring water (costs $2), so that was a wash.

Okay, I’ve analyzed this opening. …Rg8! works, even after Nc3 instead of g2, and then play g2. Black can sac on b4 and get 3 connected passed Q-side pawns for a piece, plus his own king-safety. Crafty thinks that is completely even (h7 square weakness). Either way, the real mistake here was Bxh6? …Rg8 equalizes for Black!

I’ve thought about what it would take for me to get back to 1800, and the most important factor that keeps coming up is being able to win or draw with the Black pieces against strong players.

I use my opponent’s time efficiently, but often have not considered the plan that they chose. For example, in this game …a6 was surprising, but I understood the plan meant a future …Bb5 and that his c7 square could become an entry point for my rook then.

I just want to clarify why that particular loss didn’t feel right. If someone wants to blitz me for 30-40 moves in a symmetrical position in hopes that I make a blunder, I am all for it, no probs. But to make that many moves and NOT ONCE have an advantage on the board, whether that advantage is attempted to be converted or not, and then claim the win on time is to make a mockery of the SD and not too long of time-control.

Really, I think I am a very beatable opponent. Look at me, messing up all over the place, that is what perplexes me about the time conversation. I don’t understand why opponents are not finishing me off over the board rather than attempting to on the clock. I tell them after they should finish it in the middlegame and don’t see it as that big of a deal, if the focus is on the board. On FICS, I get my butt handed to me all the time in the middlegame, but OTB people seem to want to work the clock and the ending and this is usually the mistake in their thinking. Besides, if OTB and online chess are the same, then they would be finishing me off much earlier in the game, but they don’t. It’s uncanny.


9 thoughts on “Amazing Grace

  1. Interesting game. Your sacrificing of central pawns looks too risky, I’ll check later with Fritz. Then what happened is like in soccer/hockey – if you (him) don’t score, your opponent scores.
    I hope these 3 wins will return confidence to you.
    Your attitude is changing, good, still… Do not consider cowardice anything that is not against the rules and do not try to understand your opponents, why they are doing such a travesty or whatever, it distracts you from the game. Of course, you should consider your opponent – his opening habits, style, etc. but that’s it.
    With everything else you are playing against the pieces, white or black.

  2. Thanks, RollingPawns! πŸ™‚

    There is something that I have been meaning to put into my posts, but haven’t because it’s been obvious to myself.

    A lot of what I was doing was simply research. “Could I refute this Bird opening, let me check the ECOs and against Crafty” Answer: No, it’s a waste of time. “Will this guy claim a clock win after obviously trying to win solely on time?” Yes, he will. In a sense, I was getting more into my own mind than my opponents’ mind by trying different things like this, knowing where the limits are.

    I’m not bothered by what took place so much as knowing that opponents will try certain things against me that I have to guard against, my personal weaknesses if that’s how you want to look at it, and I do look at it that way in the practical sense.

    Rollingpawns, I really think I came up with the best defense with Bd3. πŸ™‚ I went over a lot of possibilities with Crafty where it preferred something else that would have ended in failure, like winning the rook for two pawns and a piece. Actually, Bd3 did have a huge tactical flaw in ….Qc7, hitting Nc3 and Qxe5+, but even then the game is not over (during the game, I sort of eventually wanted him to take on …e5 even to give me some tactical chances). So, I did get some nice tactical chances, and he was responding with more workmanlike than best moves necessarily. Like I told him after the game that …a6 weakens Qb6, minor quibble though, in the case of Qf6 followed by Nxe combination (…dxN, QxQb6).

    I also decided that it was best not to let him castle with Rc1. I had determined that his …Rg5 retreat would not work, but then got scared by it anyway and made a quick castling move. So overall, as poor a choice as it was to lose all that time in one go (and perhaps I was simply feeling incapable of playing on at that moment), it did help my judgment later in the game, at least in terms of finding possible chances quickly and staying afloat.

  3. 8.Bxh6 is known by theory to be harmless, although the problem with it is not 9…Rg8 (after which I think White is better after 10.Nc3! – where will Black’s king go?) but 9…Bd7, intending 10.Nc3? Nxb4! 11.axb4 Bxb4 and the rook goes to c8 next. White can avoid that with 10.Be2 Rc8 (still preventing 11.Nc3) 11.0-0 Bg7 but now Black is about to play …f6 when White will have a hard time holding his centre together.
    You need to blunder less πŸ™‚

  4. Aziridine, thanks for your advice and comments.

    In the future, I would not play Bxh6 against him after having played b4, because after …Rg8 I still need to play g3 after Nc3, which give Black time to sac on b4 before I castle.

    Yep, it was definitely a blunder. I should have spent more time considering his plan with …Rg8.

    In the opening, I find it easy to get overwhelmed by possibilities, having just sat down and hoping to get through the opening quickly. He had a specific plan though, that I should have considered.

  5. Actually Black won’t be able to sac on b4 in the line 9…Rg8 10.Nc3 because White’s next move will be 11.Na4 pushing the queen back. THEN he plays g3 and prepares to castle.

  6. My belated analysis from Fritz. You could keep equality with some precise moves, like instead of 10. g3 ({-0.84 Fritz 11:} you play 10. Nc3 Bd7 11.
    Rc1 Rc8 12. g3 Rg4 13. Bh3 Rxd4 14. Nxd4 Qxd4 15. Qxd4 Nxd4 16. Na2 Rxc1+ 17. Nxc1 Nf3+ 18. Ke2 Nxe5 19. Nd3 =
    He screwed up the endgame, Fritz recommends Bxa3 on moves 31 and 33, he missed his advantage here, and then 37…Kc3 instead of Kd5, these are just natural moves. The decisive mistake was 39…d2, this pawn is worth nothing, should be 39… Kb2.
    Good play in the endgame, you deserved the win.

  7. Thanks, RollingPawns!

    Okay, I printed out your guys’ analysis and brought it to my chess-den with wood board/pieces. πŸ™‚

    Fritz analysis from RP first. Before I comment on that, I have to mention that in this line, instead of 12…Rg4, I believe Black can play …Nxb4 and take the free pawn (a3xNb4 is bad). White has compensation in that Black will end up spending another tempo retreating the knight and White has the nicer castled position, but a pawn is still a pawn! So, should be even at least for Black.

    But I digress, Fritz gives the 12…Rg4 line instead. Naturally, I looked at a Bh3 move during the game, but so here we go. Interestingly, I think that line is simply too long for Fritz to look at in one go. At the end of it 19. Nd3?? Bb5 pins it, then Rd1 defends when after exchanges on d3 Black will have 2 extra pawns in opposite bishop ending. But, I see …a5 before exchanges, which will win a third pawn and the game. Got Fritz looking, as they say in baseball. hehe. (didn’t computer check it).

    Now I will look at Aziridine’s suggestion.

    Looked at Aziridine’s suggestion. In general, I think he’s right, that’s another way for Black to press the issue for the advantage. But, I think Black should castle before …f6. For example with no …0-0 castle, after 11….Bg7, 12.Qd2 …f6, 13. Nc3 …fxe5, 14.dxe5 and now if …Nxe5, then 15. Nc3xd5 catches Black’s king out in the open and I found a forced win for White if Black plays …e6xN. Incidentally, Black cannot play …BxRa1 right away because Qb6 is under attack, so the queen must move, but I didn’t look at that possibility.

    Thanks for the Kudo, RollingPawns. πŸ™‚

    I highly recommend looking at Katar’s page on ChessTV (free to register, then view):
    I’m surprised how strong his opening repertoire and middle-game tactics are. I can see him making Master in the near future.

    I really liked Katar’s response to the King’s Gambit, and the Two knights defense – Ulvestad variation (didn’t know about this …b5 sac, and the …Na5 variation has just seemed losing for me as Black, and in theory even.) Practical yet imaginative player. I kept thinking “How would I get to an endgame against this guy?” hehe.

    He also has a video in there on the Chess Position Trainer, which is free. I downloaded it and tried it out. I’d like to put some MCO lines in it and practice memorizing them, but I know that studying tactical critical positions is the most important thing for me right now to study, or more tactics barring that.

    There is a 6 round G/90 tournament this weekend, and I think I’ll give it a go. But realistically, at some point, I have to really beef up my tactics, and then learn some opening lines, or get them organized into a small database actually, so that I can memorize them.

  8. Pingback: Father’s Day weekend tournament « LinuxGuy_on_FICS

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