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.