This was my third encounter with Dragan, one win and one draw previously. This time I had Black again against his Scotch, and went for a variation that can produce wins.
Unfortunately, I went in to this game already “chessed out”, and so it took me a while to get my head in the game. I seem to suffer badly during some games, or perhaps all games, where I can’t adjust to looking at a 3-D board for about half an hour. It would be better if I close my eyes and visualize everything in my head, and would be handy if there was a wall-board. The 3-D part of chess messes me up big-time. I can see how past masters didn’t have computers in their day, so wouldn’t have this problem. I think I am one of those few who suffer from this affliction. Or I could study with a board, and stop playing online, which is probably best.
In the opening, I made a visual blunder with 9…Qb6?!, and then spent a bunch of time waiting and hoping that he wouldn’t play 10.b4 BxN, 11.BxB Qe6, which I thought was probably losing for Black at the time, but it isn’t.
I completely didn’t see his solid 10.Qb3 response, but when he traded queens, I was very pleased at the direction that the game was going.
According to Crafty, he shouldn’t have traded on f5 as it handed me the initiative, which of course I was grateful for.
17. Kf2? was an obvious blunder since 17.Rfe1 was forced. I played 17…Nd3?!, but 17…Bd3! was winning right away. What I missed was 17…Bd3, 18. b3, Ng4+!! 19.fxN RxBe2+ followed by 20..RxNd2, sacking the knight but then winning two pieces after that. Naturally I had seen the Re2+ in other variations.
He played 18. Rfd1??, but in the post-mortem even 19. Rfe1 was lost (we both saw that), and that is why he did not play it.
With 21. Re1?, he was making a last desperate bid for a draw, sacrificing a piece instead of giving up the exchange. He felt that that the position was not complex enough to hold, down the exchange.
After the game, I suggested he may have drawn the rook ending by playing Ne4..BxN, fxB Rxe – so, just a pawn down on the queenside, but we played that out quickly, and I effortlessly won that ending too.
It took me a while to get my head into the game, but the fact that my opponent used a lot of time on his clock covered up for that lapse. Even with 17…Nd3+, I played it because I had become tired of analyzing the position. Yes, one of those games where I was simply happy that I won.
Next week I play Alex, who has been on a tear, beating Mark (1800ish) and Paul (1900ish). I even advised him not to play the French against me, but rather to play the Scandinavian. So now I am going to have it doubly tough next week as White, both on the board and clock.
Right now, my feeling toward chess is the same as the scene where Forrest Gump decided it was time to stop running across America. I can see that chess is full of a bunch of up-and-comers with no jobs that can study chess all day. Even the Russian pros, if you really think about it, if they had not been state-sponsored, they were basically a bunch of talented guys, with no jobs, who played chess all day. 😉 This particular opponent had a job, so he he was doomed (sarcasm).
RollingPawns, how did you do yesterday evening? Did you play?