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.