Wednesday Round 2

In this game I was playing Black against Mark, our seventh OTB encounter. As he said in so many words after the game, he was not interested in seeing my French Def. again (he lost last time, 3 months ago), so this time he played d4.

The game began to look like I was going to have a disadvantageous ending, when suddenly he went for it on the kingside and the fireworks broke out. This only surprised me because he usually chooses the endgame instead. Anyway, yeah, I was really busted, even blundered a piece with …g6 instead …g5. Of course, I thought both moves lose, heck I thought lot of things lost, but the key was to choose the most challenging one.

The game got strange as he did not finish me off, yet I had a time advantage. For the second time I asked him if he wanted a draw, but this time I was at 3:19 and he at :46 seconds. Material was even, but when he rejected it, I did begin to realize that I was lost. So, I figure “I’ll just blitz him then.” Big mistake.

He made some quick moves. Ne5 was instant, so I simply guessed that it was a blunder that allowed us to trade pawns (otherwise I figured that I had to give up my f-pawn, which looked losing). Naturally, as soon as I took I realized that I had forgot about my king, saw the fork, and he played it about a second or two later.

When I blundered, he had only 30 seconds left, and I 2:22, so naturally it was affecting me, thinking “How can I not win this on time, this is absurd for him to reject the draw!??” Soon after the blunder, his clock died, but the arbiter said I had 48 seconds to his 24, but it was knight and 4 pawns vs. 4 pawns, so I quickly resigned it.

The position is actually losing for Black, nevermind what an engine might initially say. He thought I was going to play …f6 and have us trade pawns. I pointed out that g6 would win if I had done that (which it quickly does). But knowing Mark and the fact that he was sitting on these moves, my hunch is that he would have spent 5-10 seconds an possibly “found” g6 (which is quite obvious, if it weren’t for time-trouble). …f5 would have been the best try, although still losing, because at least it kicks his bishop and gives him more to think about. I am rarely losing _and_ up on time, quite unusual for me, but lesson learned going forward. Definitely poor time-management, but at least it was interesting since it was the case for both of us, ridiculous actually, but you can’t think that at the board, as I found out.

Like any tournament game, the most interesting part was what was taking place in our minds “behind the scenes”. When he sacked his h-pawn, I realized that his plan was to follow it up with ..g4, Kg2, and Rh1, but what I didn’t choose to believe is that he had calculated it all out correctly ahead of time – he had! He even saw a nifty rook sac on h8 that wins. Also, we went over tactics against my king and the large majority weren’t working out for him. IMHO, I was seeing tactical things more quickly than he, and accurately, although he saw a few things that I hadn’t. In fact, the things he had seen were more “Planning-esque”.

I learned something, an answer to a question about the importance of all this tactics drills stuff and here it is: As long as the tactical disparity isn’t too great, the better planner should win.

He didn’t accept my draw because he thought that his g-pawn would win (despite contemplating trading it in post-mortem comments). It never occured to me that his g-pawn could win until he started pushing it, I was only thinking that I had to give up my f-pawn and develop my rook. I showed him how he could easily win my f-pawn tactically, as the speed that I am currently seeing tactics was quicker than he seemed to be seeing, and quicker than I used to see things.

It’s the same thing though, over and over in our games. He is PLANNING and can sit on a 5 move deep plan that he can whip out, whereas I am scanning the board and NOTICING TACTICS. BTW, it’s not true that the tactical players don’t make tactical blunders, as I did. If anything, tactical prowess can lead to OVERCONFIDENCE and losing games that way, whereas the planner usually doesn’t fall for quick moves as much. Being slightly better at tactics and slightly weaker at planning is like the chicken running around with it’s head cut off as if thinking “But I can run faster!”

26…RxRh1?? was played too glibly, suspecting a draw (I thought it might draw just barely). I should have played …Rg8, keeping a stiff-upper lip in the time-control quandry. I can always do this sort of thing next time, giving him nowhere to improve. I realize now that offering or agreeing to a draw with him is a useless act, and I need to be prepared to play it out, if this should ever happen again. I only saw …Rg8, g5, not realizing that NxBe4 and I have three attackers to his one defender of the g5 pawn, which will be lost. Need to not panic and simply find the best move as that is all one can do – with no bad errors, someone will lose on time regardless.

In that …Rg8 line, I was also worried about g4-g5-g6, sacking the pawn on g6, which would actually be good for White, but in time-pressure it affected my ability to calculate correctly, so I did not realize that White doesn’t have that much time. What is even more interesting is that White can play BxNf6, sacking the g4 pawn, and not only is it even, but that White has tricks that give him winning chances such as trading queens on d6, marching the king to f6 and then arranging to push d7. So, I still could have found myself in trouble on the board making quick moves in obvious attempts at a draw.

I should note that the move where I blundered was played instantly, the only move where I did that.

Also, I could have gained complete equality through 19…Bd6 with the idea of 20…Ng4 forcing the Be5 to trade itself, after he had retreated his bishop with 19.Bd3 – basically because the White queen is so out of play. Naturally, I was worried that it might be slow, and his h-pawn at least looked a little scary.

When I look back at this game, yes who knows if I hadn’t blundered, but it’s the totality of mistakes, a lot of them time-pressure induced, no doubt. Another thing is that White ended up with what I call a “blitzable position”, whereas Black did not. Therefore, it did not matter how much time he had left, only how much time that I had left.

In other news, should I play Anthea tonight, she is on a roll. I didn’t play at the big-tournament last weekend, but she did and got 3 wins, and 2 byes = 1785 rating. It sounded like she drew the Master player, Josh, last night in a pawn down rook endgame. So, a tactical dynamo who doesn’t use much time on their clock, can achieve a lot. If I could calculate that quickly, I’d probably do it, too, but I haven’t been able to calculate that quickly.


4 thoughts on “Wednesday Round 2

  1. This game can explain why I don’t play Queen’s Gambit, though superGMs have no problem with it :). You see, in the end of the game your bishop c8 and rook a8 are still not moved. In the game it gets worse and worse, not even clear when and how, Fritz even plays the same line allowing Bxh7. You opponent played well, though quite a few time missed the opportunity to finish the game, like 22. g5 or 26. g5 with ~5.0 advantage. And because of that a couple of times you could survive, one of them, right, was 26… Rg8. And in the end despite of all his advantage during the game, after 22… f6 he would have just 0.84 with almost no time. But you had only 2:22 (I don’t care actually how much he had), so you blundered. The thing is, time management problem, if you compare it with let’s say hockey, it’s like having bad powerplay or bad powerplay killing, it’s a constant factor affecting almost every game. And why you play such an opening, that you can’t get at least equal, playable position? Please, understand me right, when you lose – it upsets me and I worry that you do not want to fix the things clearly affecting your play. Tactics won’t save you if you have just a few minutes left until end of the game, we are not GMs, don’t get increment. How much tactics and how deep you see when you play blitz? The same with that scary Q+B battery + Be5 + your undefended kingside just after 13 moves, I don’t think I would want to have this position with Black, probably my tactics won’t save it. I am just saying – opening is very important, choose the right one and learn it deep enough to get a normal position.

  2. Yeah, that game was all busted-up. Somehow I decided to play it like a Cambridge-Springs defense, which is what he plays! Around the time I had to play …Qa5, I knew I was in bad shape, staring at my queenside mess.

    You are right, I see jack-nothing at blitz, tactically – need to keep working on my time-management, for sure. I avoided …Qb4 queen trade because he had …Qd3, and then my queen is shut out but his isn’t.

    With Qc2, I had overlooked the h7 threat, but after a long thought, I decided that it was best to let White play Bh7+, trading h7 pawn for c3 pawn. Unfortunately, this was a better trade for him as it weakened my kingside.

    I had nothing prepared against Bf4 system with …h6. There is a slow way to play against it with …b6, and …c5, which at least would have been better than what I had played. I may take up the slav, but possibly even the king’s indian. King’s Indian would be even harder on the clock, though, but something new should be tried, sure.

    Well, I played 65 moves tonight. Definitely got lucky, but am slowly making progress playing my way deeper into the endgame. I need to save more time for endgames though against equal rated opponents, that is a top priority, particularly now that I have the confidence to play them with.

    The openings stuff is work that pays off, but it has to be a priority with time spent on it. Perhaps I will try King’s Indian against him next time, although strategic positions are what he does best.

  3. I started to play Nimzo-Indian defense in blitz/correspondence games. Despite of the lot of variations people mostly play 4. Qc2, so it makes it easier to learn. I get pretty good results in blitz and the type of the arising positions is kind of mine.

  4. Hehe. I don’t Nimzo-indian variations much, but two club players were talking about it a while back, all chummy about how the both play Qc2 as White. Too funny. You are right, that means only one line needed to specialize in, I guess. Perhaps I will play this too, it seems like Black at least gets an easy game in the main lines.

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