In Round 2, I played John for the third time, lost both previous games. This time, he opted for the Sicilian Def. rather than the French Def.
This game was rather surreal for me as all of my decisions came down to trying to save time on the clock, particularly once I reached 30 minutes, as that was my “time to speed up” indicator. We used his clock, with no delay, which made me antzier than usual in the last half hour.
The outcome of this game can only be explained as a G/90 phenomena, as 40/2, it would have gone differently at many different points late, and it’s completely obvious when going over the game. I looked at a lot of long variations, and didn’t want to chance them, so I ended up playing really obvious-looking moves instead, just to be safe. I looked at some good variations, but didn’t play them.
At the end, I knew he was going to double on the d-file before he put a single rook there, but I didn’t even want to spend time looking at it because I knew the game was going to come down to time, of which I had 7 minutes at the end, and he perhaps 46 minutes or so. There is just so much to look at when defending, it’s not like attacking where you choose one line, instead one has to see all possibilities, much more time-consuming.
After the game, I thought the losing move was 18.NxNc7, and almost played Na3 instead, with the idea of Nc2 and Ne3 to challenge his Nd5, and it’s not easy for Black to unwind there either, but then I just decided that NxN looked more obviously safe.
19.BxNd5. I did look at 19.Na5 Rac8, 20.c5 Nxb4, 21.Nxb7 and figured it was losing, but somehow didn’t notice I could play 21.Bxb7 instead. I figured I didn’t want to have the wrong evaluation on that line and lose the game because of it, but by not playing the variations I was looking at, it caused me to play things I wasn’t looking at, and it also cost me all that time for the variations I did look at. At times I was thinking that I must play whatever I do look at because there is no time left over to consider the other moves (unfortunately, I didn’t follow that).
Let’s continue with that line, 21.Bxb7 Rb8, 22.Bf3 and if …Nxa2, 23.Rc2 Nb4, 24.BxNb4 RxB, 25.Nc6 (forking Rb4 and Be7) RxNc6, 26.BxR Rxc4 and Black has 2 pawns for the exchange so +.33 score. Naturally, if White could trade down to the rook vs. bishop and two pawns, White has real winning chances. Incidentally, it doesn’t help me to concentrate when my opponent made a “pshhh” sound during this move as if I were taking too much time for nothing. I also didn’t appreciate that he thumps his head with his thumb during his own moves and it sounds like a drum, loud empty sound. Never heard anything like it before, loud. It’s weird how many players make habitual irritating sounds, smack their gums or whatever, during a game, or make a sucking or popping sound, LOTS of player do this stuff.
Then, I couldn’t figure out how to unwind my position in those last ten minutes that I spent on my clock. I considered moving my king to the center to defend the d-file, but there were so many other things he could do that I was looking at that it was killing me on the clock and that is exactly when he was speeding up his play, throwing easy to find moves out there which strengthened his position (of which he had a great selection to choose from). I just seemed at at the end like I didn’t even play a game of chess, that it happened too fast.
My friend Alex didn’t show up, so not only did I not have a buddy to talk to, but there is no point in playing the last two rounds against 1400 level players, all that’s left really. The Wednesday tournament is already done, I’m going to email the TD that I am pulling out of it.
We’ll see what happens on Thursday, if anyone else shows up, that is the stronger tournament. That might just be the end of Wednesdays for me for a while. It doesn’t even feel like the same event that I’ve been doing on all these Wednesdays when buddies don’t show up. There’s no point to it. Chess-wise, it would be a lot more enjoyable for me if I could play these stronger players at a 2 hr. time-control, like I did back in CA, instead of at G/90. Losing that last half-hour takes a lot of enjoyment out of the game, it’s more of a time-sport here. And now that I think about it, he set it at G/85 even though he didn’t have the 5-second delay set, plus I was 2 minutes late.
My chess-bubble has been burst. I was wrong to care so much about these G/90 tournaments. RollingPawns, you are the last of the Mohicans, all of the other really regular tournament players seem to be professionals, or on a chess (Samford) fellowship. I have to give you big kudos, your chess is improving as well.
BTW, it looks like my knight maneuver at the end of the game loses (it does), but if I had played my king to e1 or e2, there were brutal tactical finishes for either one of those tries, according to Crafty. I had even considered making various pawn sacs, but just letting my position get “stuck” in time-pressure turned out to be the worst thing of all.
It looks as if I should have played 24.Be1 (considered it), but now that I look with Crafty, Black is still crushing White with …f5, ..Bf6, and then march the e-pawn down the board for a -3 advantage. Definitely would have been better to throw a spanner in the works earlier, as White.
Here is a pawn-sac that I came oh-so-close to playing. 19.Nc5 BxN, 20. bxB Rxb (..Ba4 hitting the Rd1 first is stronger since the Rd1 is part of the plan), 21.Be3 NxBe3?, 22.RxBd7 for a +.33 advantage for White. But Black should play 21…Ra5. Naturally, I didn’t see 20…Ba4 or 21…Ra5, but either way it would have given me active play, and the bishop-pair! Ugggh. The …Ba4 line is even because it pushes White’s rook into winning the e-pawn. The …Ra5 line looks holdable for White as well. Shoot, I thought it was too grandiose good to be true.
I am not going to play Wednesdays anymore, and probably not Thursdays either – not sure about the rest of this month though. There is usually a big tournament every month or every other month, so I will play those. May 22 there is a 4-round 40/2, G/1 for example. Actually, there is a big tournament every month, with the longest gap being 1 month and 2 weeks between July and August, and 1 month and 1 week between August and October 2011.