This game came down to my poor time-management against a higher-rated player.
This was our second meeting. He played an offbeat Sicilian as Black. I think I shouldn’t have worried so much and gotten the f4 plan in however. Be2 would have been more sensible, but even with Bb1, if he plays his bishop to the a6-f1 diagonal so what, put the rook on e1 if need be and push f4 anyway. This was Dan’s recommendation to me after the game, play f4, but that isn’t so great it seems because of …f6. Dan is 1700’s and won against a guy who is nearly 1900. Turns out the correct strategy is to make his bishop bad by trying to force him to play …e6. That was a nifty strategy that he used against me.
I played haphazardly, but Crafty says it was completely even when I played 25.Qg3, problem was I was running low on time.
I made two visual errors and that was the game. First one was that I didn’t see that his capturing on d4 uncovered his Bd7 to protect f5 against the fork. I played this series of moves quickly and only after he played QxRd4 did I notice the combo didn’t work.
Then I made a visual error that hung a piece with 30.Ng6xe7. It was another quick move, but you can notice that after the bishop recaptures on g4, the rook is then guarding the e7 pawn. The right move was to not play 29.QxQ but rather Nxe7 right away instead, but it is still losing because Black has the reply Bb5 attacking Rf1. Naturally, I had seen 29.Nxe7 first, but was trying to “improve” upon it by trading queens first. The continuation should be 29.Nxe7 QxQ, 30.fxQ Bb5.
In 2-D it is easier to see my combo on d4 failing right away, but it is much more difficult to notice the Bd7 OTB, IMHO. As soon as I took with the rook and he took with his queen, he smiled over to his friend confidently and was completely obvious to me that he knew he was going to win. Not only does the Bd7 prevent the Nf5+ fork, but it also allowed the Qg4 defense, so I had naturally also missed that initially, thinking that I could at least sac the house on g6 for a draw. But after he played QxR, that’s when I also noticed the …Qg4 defense, and naturally I can’t move the pinned f-pawn to block out the queen with…if only I had played Kh1 earlier like I had thought of doing. 😉 Well, Qe3 is the move I should have thought of anyway, instead of RxN.
There was a fleeting moment before I allowed the d4 combination that I thought to myself that if I didn’t like the combination, I could back out with 27. Nxg6 or Bxg6, but forgot about it, however he has 27…Ne2+ forking king and queen. One thing about this game is it never helped to make a move and try to think on his time as he only seemed to spend time where he felt there were actual complications, and since he is a strong player, he only saw complications where they actually existed. Frequently, I felt like “Okay, move”, then he moves right back, not giving me anything, and I am still on my clock. If I hadn’t been thinking about so many possibilities on that move, I think I notice the obvious blunder and then find Qe3. It count against me that I had many things to consider on that move, but didn’t funnel those considerations by the most immediate threat posed to my position.
After the game, I asked him what he would have played if I had played 28. Bf5. I didn’t play it because I thought Qa7 disarmed my tactic, but actually there is a drawing line should he have played that. Instead he quickly played Rc1!..BxBd7, RxRf1+ Kh2 and I was cursing my luck, thinking I would have gotten Nf5+ fork in, but actually he can continue from that position …Rh8!! pinning the Nh4 to the king and winning it.
My last chance was a move I did not notice, getting two pieces for rook and pawn in an ending with only a slight advantage after 27.Qe3 Bb5, 28.Rfe1 Ne2+ 29.RxNe2 d4, 30.Qe4 BxRe2, 31.QxRe2 then Black trades a rook pair and queens on c1.
My longest move of the game was on playing b3. I was worried about a …b3 sac, axb3 Nb4 when it appeared that Black’s pieces get active, but the doubled pawn gives White a full point advantage and Black can make nothing of the initiative there. Also, my blitz move would have been Nf4 instead, but then we both trade d-pawns Nxd, Nxd and that is quite bad for White.
I made too big a deal out of strategy and did not save time for complications, that was the unstoppable train, the clock. He had close to an hour left, but I knew it was going to be like that going into this game.
I was just reading a game in ‘Secrets of Chess Tactics’ and I couldn’t visualize a tactical line he was seeing. I closed my eyes and I could actually see the pins and why the sacs worked, but if I were to look at the board it would be much more difficult to visualize without moving the pieces due to the “retained image” of the current position. That book _does_ do some serious GM level Stoyko-analysis on positions.