Outplayed and Outclassed

This is one of those precious few games where the rating does not tell the whole story.

I was playing as Black against Isaac in this game. In the distant pass I have had some quick wins against him, yes, but he beat the 1990 player last week. Anyhow, I was obviously playing for the win in the middlegame more than following a conservative plan, and he knew that my ..e4 was bad in that it blocks in the light bishop on b7.

I spent a long time and only found that my plan was a premature attack, quite refutable, and refute he did.

Qa1 was the real stumper, as I realized that it was a strong idea, good move, but that doesn’t mean that I still didn’t want to win the game anyway. However, I came to realize that I had miscalculated. Yes, I had seen Nh4, Nf5 before I pushed with …e4, but at first I thought that Nh4 Bxh2+, KxB (likely)Ng4+, BxNg4 QxNh4+ and then saw it doesn’t work as he has Bh3 to block the check with (which he also saw, but probably not on his move). Best I could come up with was ..g6, but by then I figured that I had to allow his Nc4 followed by ..d6. I realized that I could have safely played ..Bc7 instead of ..Bb8, to stop his Na5, but didn’t realize how strong Na5 would turn out to be. Thought it was merely a decentralized knight, but my Ba8 was horribly out of play.

Later I found out that Qa1 was a prepared move that he and his coach both knew about! Talk about your high-level win!

Going over this game does not do it justices as on move 23, low on time, I decided to sac the knight with …Ne5, hoping he would capture in the wrong order. I knew that I was losing an exchange as the best move is ..Bc6, whereupon White can play Ba6 Rc7, Bf6 winning an exchange. Not only that, but if I play something weaker, he was going to play …Bh8 and did successfully play it in the post-mortem as we could both see that his position was completely winning. He was also quick about it, spent maybe 15 minutes on the game, whereas I spent virtually all of my time, and was just as fast in the post-mortem. In the post-mortem, he was tactically seeing all of this stuff which Crafty is re-showing me now.

On move 23, after …Bc6, I still would have been down +2.23 according to Crafty. Queen pawn isn’t really my thing, but he worked it, and I should have played a more traditional center, being content with a draw.

Sometimes, one has to give an opponent their due, and he played some crazy good chess. It would take some study for me to best defuse his Qa1 move, positionally.

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4 thoughts on “Outplayed and Outclassed

  1. You were still equal after Qa1, it is later that you gradually got worse. 18. …Bc7 was preventing Na5, I think that was a turning point.
    Not sure I would play Ne5, though playing without exchange is tough.
    It was difficult to evaluate position, with his pieces having better positions, so the right plan would be to defend.

  2. You are right. I was planning to play …Bc7 all along. My problem is that I have this speculative streak, it really comes out in blitz (hence low blitz rating on FICS – 500 points lower than Standard) or time-trouble, so …Bb8 is like some cheeky attempt to keep attacking and not defend.

    Yes, giving up the piece was foolish since he wasted zero time correctly capturing. I am not playing solid enough is my problem, especially at G/90. But against lower-rated it’s sort of like my “style” is more decisive because they either don’t play prophylactically, don’t refute my play, or both. Isaac has this system with so much prophylaxis built in that I can’t go for anything as Black without likely losing or giving him some sort of Tal-like counter-reply. He knows how to play chess, structure the game, clock, opening, tactics. Playing G/90 against him is close to being pointless for me, as I would have to hang around for a long time in future games, and really hope he makes a flawed attack.

    …Nc6 also would have been better. I was going to play it, but I didn’t, got too creative, second-guessed myself. In the post-mortem, he was much more disconcerted by ..Nc6. I remember that I didn’t play …Bc7 so that I could avoid the d6 fork, was thinking of playing …Ne8 to cover d6, but he brilliantly avoided d6 and played around what I was doing.

  3. I dont know what to say. If one plays Bb7 and d5 one expect black also to play Ne4.
    Another plan, if one plays Bb7 is to play d6 followed by c5.

    23. … Ne5 giving away a full piece I would never play if it doesn’t lead to some compensation which you didn’t had in this game. To say it harsh, 23. … Ne5 is just blundering a piece.

    Your opponent seems to take his chess more seriously after suffering some heavy beatings of you in the past. He prepared his game with his coach which shows that he was already a long time before the game into this game.

  4. He plays this opening every time, it’s called the “Cheesecake” opening, his coach invented it. I am the one that varies, so it’s just that I never got quite that deep into his repertoire before.

    I did play ..d5 a little begrudgingly, knowing that …d6 is probably the more interesting try, but I was going with the …Bb7 system here. My original plan was to play …Ne4, that is exactly what I wanted to do, but his Qa1! move prevented it.

    IMHO, he is playing ‘anti-chess’ now, as Kortchnoi once said about Karpov. He is waiting for me to make the attacking mistake, and then jumps all over me like Kasparov, once I do. I should have played Bxd5 and then ..Be6 or get rid of it on c4, and that was my plan at one point in the game. But one has so many plans, and has to choose one from among them – Bb7 was my worst piece, though.

    He was virtually sitting on that …Ne5 move, though, pouncing (it was such a bad move that I had hoped it might catch him off-guard, getting a quick reply from him). So, I’ll make a mental note not to try that one again.

    Tonight will be my last weekday G/90 game for the immediate forseable future. I won’t be playing in them next month, although there are two of the biggest tournaments locally in March, so I may go to one of those, particularly the second one which is the Class Championships. IOW, I could play 4 rounds against other class B players for a prize (the first tournament is a 5-round Open tournament).

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