Thursday’s game as Black

I was a few minutes late but lucked out as the TD was also 5 minutes late, didn’t realize you have to normally be 5 minutes early to get paired in this tournament or else have to take a bye.

Anyhow, I wasn’t feeling any ill will toward my opponent (I have to mention this for those who think I might), and felt like a jerk for being late.

Here is the game.

I offered him a draw once the queen trade became evident, and he refused (move 27 – my 19 minutes left to his 13).

We both wasted ridiculous amounts of time in the opening, but I only because he did, so in a sense I was just as much “slow-playing” him (poker term) but should have been saving much more time in order to ward off bad moves. My goal was to keep 6 minutes up on him and that’s mostly how it played out. Once he caught back up to me on the clock, but then I regained my lead.

I’ve recreated the game to around 98% accuracy, I believe, but we were both blitzing at the end, I simply _for once_ kept ahead on the clock. Ironically, this game did come down to who would make the blitz error in the endgame. It’s interesting being on the other side of the fence for a change, being the guy who can stop and cherry-pick at the ending. He had less than a minute and I about 2 1/2. Reversal of fortune, indeed.

All those admonitions that you guys made about the clock, RollingPawns and Chesstiger, were right. He was sincerely trying to game the ending for a win the best he could, and that is why he lost, getting too fine with no time lead to the blunder. To me, I’m thinking, okay this isn’t 8 hour Soviet chess time-controls here, it’s a draw at G/75 (actually, G/70 with 5 second delay), but he was trying to be pristine about it and find his best winning chance because of my bad bishop.

I have a lot of respect for Mark’s endgame ability, but I really wonder how long it will take before people figure out that I am not exactly a punching bag in the endgame just because I have a bad bishop. It’s really hard to pull off that sort of win in G/75, particularly if one is a procrastinator on the clock. Not saying it can’t easily happen, but after a while, one has to start to believe in playing the percentages.

I didn’t really like my …Be8, played quickly, and wanted …Na7 instead but I kept seeing this ugly defense of ..Be8 combined with ..g6 as virtually unavoidable. Apparently it doesn’t work too well going by Crafty’s meter, but I guess it lulled him into thinking I had the world’s worst bishop for an endgame. I don’t really think that way myself, bad endgame is just as bad in the middlegame, but psychologically I guess I got lucky and he fell in with that idea.

My whole defense should have easily fallen apart to the average Expert or above. The real problem with the French defense is how vulnerable Black’s king is to being attacked, not the bad bishop endgame situation. I really didn’t calculate much of a defense, or at least a shoddy one I did. My opponent was making prudent moves, but a kingside attack is more than just prudent moves, and takes time on the clock and some care. It’s more than simply accumulating more and more incremental advantages, it’s about pulling the trigger, cashing the check.

My opponent was rated 1935 back in 1993. I’ve looked at a lot of ratings the past couple years and I notice that most people who are high-rated now and were for a long time, it seems like they were rated about 150 points higher maybe 15 years ago. Was everyone rated higher back then or what? Perhaps there were simply more high-rated players in the pool back then, and a lot of them dropped out, that seems a more plausible explanation; e.g., “all boats rise during a high-tide”. The internet took away a lot of OTB players, IMHO. There was a time when the effect was more obvious, and the internet was growing quickly.

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5 thoughts on “Thursday’s game as Black

  1. Refusing a draw having 13 vs. 19 minutes left doesn’t seem reasonable to me, so it’s quite logical that he screwed up in the endgame. I also noticed that thing about people being rated higher 10-15 years ago, maybe they get older and also play less.

  2. RollingPawns, I could see you winning this game against an Expert.
    http://main.uschess.org/content/view/10469/593/

    Scroll down the the last game in blue, K&tagami (who I lost to that time in my first Catalan defense) loses to an A player.

    I thought Black blundered with 29.Qd4, but after a second look even …Qd8, Ne6…Qe8,NxBg7…NxRe1, BxNe1 still looks like a win for White.

    Black had such a pleasant position after the bishop trade on d7, perhaps even get in the usual “Benko gambit” idea of …cxb and then get in …c4 and …Nc5.

    Here’s the thing, as White it goes to show how real this possibility is. I mean White wasted gobs of tempos and still pulls out a tactical refutation of Black’s rather tactical strategy. But the thing is, positional play, openings knowledge, and endings keeps a rating consistent.

    Actually, that was really nice how White played b4 forcing Black to fork his rooks, realizing that the fork wouldn’t suffice.

    The problem I had with the Lopez is Bc2 staring at the e4 pawn, after having been pushed around all that time, that is White’s “reward”. He acts like Ba4 was a heroic move, but I would play that move more out of desperation than anything else, don’t think Black should regret the opening one bit. If someone can show me how Bc2 is so awesome with that closed pawn center of e4, and d5, I may play it again OTB one day.

  3. (Regarding the usefulness of White’s lightsquared bishop) That’s easy: five high-profile examples off the top of my head are game 20 from Kasparov – Karpov, Wch New York/Lyon 1990; game 10 from Fischer – Spassky, Rejkjavik Wch 1972; Fischer-Stein, Sousse izt 1967; game 1 from Fischer-Spassky, return match 1992; and Anand-Carlsen, Linares/Morelia 2007. The key is to realize that although the position might be closed temporarily, Black needs to attack White’s e4 and d5 pawns if he doesn’t want to be suffocated for lack of space, but trading them off also brings White’s bishop back to life. It’s the same reason why Black’s bishop on g7 is so effective in the King’s Indian Defence even though Black often voluntarily blocks it in by playing …d6 and …e5.

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