I played Kevin for the first time, in this game, as Black – this is the 1400 level player that beat Anthea last week. Presumably we are both 2-0. Anthea’s omen almost proved correct when she complained that he could just play for the draw and she lost going for the win. He was also playing best moves, though, which helps.
Opening started out French Exchange var. where I got a pleasant advantage, but just then was my first blunder. I had been planning ..Be6 if he had played Nh4, but that was still the move to make here. Of course it was one of my fastest moves, did only a basic blundercheck, but saw the problem as soon as I came back to the board, Ne5, and of course he then found the move and started playing well from that point. This is the point of the game where I kind of joke to myself “What would Victor Kortchnoi do? – answer: he wouldn’t have!”
So then I am, okay, what can I do with this ending? When I played …Kb6, I was like uh-oh, probably should have not blocked the b-pawn. Naturally, my opponent is playing well, but I play worse! Somehow my opponent plays into my time-pressure and I am relieved that he does not play g4! Why did I even allow it, I dunno, went into hope-chess mode, and had even knew that g4 would bust it when I played it, but was out of ideas and running out of time.
I knew that the knight exchange was a draw (hence, the hope part of it), but then he chose not to lay off with Kf3-Kg2, draw, and kept quickly prodding for the win. For a change, I was enjoying this sequence. Then he gives me one last chance at the very end, having given me some of his time to think, and I did not miss the mark. What a finish.
After the game, analyzing with Crafty, I realized that I had missed d4 not only at the wrong time (I kept looking for it) – b4 was another quick move. Okay, it’s actually a draw if he plays g4 after …d4, but if White takes the d-pawn, right away instead of waiting for …dxc, then White loses. I’ve looked at hundreds of moves, and I would have to say that the ending was completely drawn in any event, but by pushing forward, I gave him a chance to mess up. One of the best ways to secure a draw in this situation, for either side, is to create a pawn fortress, that is for a stone-cold draw vs. an active draw (where one side could mess it up).
When I finally did push …d4, it should have been a game-losing blunder. Instead, …Nd6 holds, although White can push Black back for quite a bit, with correct play (and even that was interesting to see) Black will draw.
Sidenote: I would actually be back to 1800 at this moment, if one of my previous round opponents had not lost a 100 points over the weekend playing quick chess – as it is, this will cost me 5 rating points. So, I have won all 3 rounds, somewhat miraculously, since even a draw in my last game would have wiped out all of the 12 rating points.
This weekend I am going to play in Monument, 5 rounder (G/2hrs, finally!). Last moment decision. I guess I figure it’s my last chance at a shot for some rating points, but it could also become a case where I have to win against every 1500 level player under the sun just to try to stay at 1800, we’ll see. Also, I have never stopped at Monument and this is the last important town locally, that I’ve wanted to see. I’ll have to try and play at the same pace and simply think of the 30 extra minutes as time for the endgame, a long one.