I have had success, as White, against Dean in the Open Sicilian, Accelerated Dragon, but those are hair-raising tales and I figured that I could use more OTB experience with the C3 Sicilian. Besides, after missing so much OTB play, I wanted to put myself through the paces. No warm up games on FICS today, either; I’ve had enough training on FICS to last me a very long time.
Let’s get onto the game. It started out normal, he seemed to have something prepared, but then he went into “trade” mode as he often does against me (why trade the bishop after having had played ..g6 already?) and yet, wait for it, with my previous move I was avoiding Nc3 in anticipation of …Bb4+, but now I wonder why, and yet I was right (??) It’s like a mind-read or something.
Anyhow, he went into his typical defensive posture. I spent 20 minutes on the move 15.b3, mostly analyzing Na4 as deeply as I could, but it was a winning move that I should have played on my previous turn, and doesn’t have as much punch here.
He meanders a bit with 19…b5, basically handing me a free tempo, and so I just go for the Nf6 plan, which I was contemplating not going with had he played Nf5, although I was still thinking about doing it and not taking on f5.
I was surprised by his resourceful 21…Ng8, but saw his …h6 plan coming. I was going to sham-sac with the winning Ng3-h5! (that was my plan when I played Ng3), for example 28.gxh6 Nxh6 29.Ng3-h5, but hadn’t planned it for this this exact position. I did look at it here briefly, though, but cut off my calculation prematurely to look to see if there was something simpler. To be honest, I was beginning to get worried about the clock and went for the wimpy continuation instead, which only picks up a pawn (a lot of my same bad habits were revisited, yes, but I wasn’t nervous or paying attention to the clock until toward the end of the game).
Still, I spent a long time on the obvious 32.Qf4 because I was looking at a lot of sacs in that position, but his attack comes first. Then I missed 34.Rxd4 being an obvious win, with Rh8 mate. I also missed a quicker win with 36.Bh7+, but naturally the Nh5 mate threat required less calculation, so I went for that.
He defended well, although he thought my g4 push was a mistake – I don’t think it is when he can’t refute it with either f6 or h6.
Wow, what a game. It’s easy to think that lower-rated players should just fold, but time in complications seems to be the difference-maker. That and general strategy. There is always some thought of “What the hell, I could lose this game?” that occurs sometime late, and really it’s very possible, one slip and then done on the clock, if not also on the board.
Plus, I played this C3 Sicilian because Chesstiger needed another attacking game to look at. 😀 Okay, maybe that wasn’t my prime-motivator. Avoiding boredom and others’ preparation is usually what pulls me most.
One thing I will say is that there is not the same psychological pressure when playing a few hundred points down. I mean, when you are getting a free tempo around every third move, it’s not as difficult to find one’s composure, and not “crack”. I have “cracked” many times against Class A and above. Now, I see it as not such a big deal what their rating is, as I have lost plenty of games already (I am not kidding myself), but the game would become more tense without all of those free tempos, and against someone who sees what I am up to, more often. Still, even this opponent saw a lot of what I was up to for it to become unnerving on the clock.
I must mention another possibility on move 26.Qf6+. I had momentarily considered this move, but it seemed a bit ridiculous since I figured I should have something better than this, but really it is simply winning. For example, 26…NxQf6 is simply losing the knight, but 26…QxQ, 27.exQ! and the Black knight is trapped, permanently out of play, on g8! If Black declines with 26…Kf8, White trades rooks on c8, then Qh8 followed by Nf6 wins the pinned Ng8. I sure missed a lot of good stuff. 🙂 Better yet, this exactly the sort of thing one would miss in a quicker game on FICS, and even the sort of position you’d probably not reach positionally there, in the first place.
About this tournament, it had a good turnout. I am also going to play in tomorrow’s tournament which has a good turnout as well. I had to take a bye for rounds 1, since I was busy selling my trailer (for same as what I paid for it), which also caused me to miss a four round G/60 tournament the past Saturday (not that I play well at G/60). One thing to note is that I felt like my game was slightly irrelevant, as everyone had left and no one had hung around to watch any of it. I got to talk with one of my friends there, though, which was fun. Such an interesting game, and yet I guess it is lame in some way compared to people who can play a good G/30 game. I asked if there were any upsets, and there weren’t any. Nope, it was just me taking too long to close out a game that I am supposed to be capable of closing out as White. The story of my life.
After this game, I looked at a lot of potential mates in it. One thing is that his play looks bad and yet okay. It really takes some digging to find out why his position doesn’t work. He is not dropping pieces against me, so much as hanging positional weaknesses which require combinative solutions, which in turn require a time investment.