Although not a great result.
I played Katherine for the third time, this time as Black. I last played and won against her at the Class Championships. This time she avoided my Open Variation to the Ruy and played the Worral attack instead.
I played 12..g5 rather quickly, but she accepted it. I was simply going to take with the pawn, but this sent me into a very long think, perhaps 25 minutes. I did not like my position, but the only alternative was 13..d5, when I can expect 14.Nf3, so the only move was to accept it – of course, I looked at other tricky replies which don’t work.
Both of us showed uncertainty, her with g2-g3-g4, and me with never getting …c6 in. I prepared ..c6, but then played …c5, but it was losing in any case because I took too long to play it, deciding where to place my rooks. ..Rh6 was a blunder and a waste of a tempo, for instance.
Turns out the …c6 idea was not going to work anyway, and I knew that it was quite involved, which is why I hemmed and hawed and never quite played it.
e.g. 23…c6, 24.dxc6 d5, 25.cxNd7 dxNe4, 26.dxe4! Ra7, 27.Rad1 Bd8 and now 28.h6+ Kg6 (to guard the Nf6), 29.Qf5+!, the point of move 26, leads to mate.
Crafty suggests playing …b4 in there somewhere but it’s evaluation of the position bounces around a lot, ending in favor of White. I didn’t develop smoothly, and that is what cost me most. I played …g5 mostly because I didn’t want to see BxNf6 followed by Bd5. I would have replied …Bd7 correctly though and Crafty gives Black an edge.
I thought White was fine without playing the sac on g4, but she was worried about me playing …g4, which I wasn’t even considering. I told her that after hxg…Bxg she would have been fine, and that I was looking to play …a4, and Crafty agrees with me there on both counts.
Omigosh, I can’t freaking believe this, the way she played that attack was over Crafty’s head! Crafty agrees after seeing the moves, but not beforehand. She played g3! If she had played g4? at the time, I was going to play …Rg8, which refutes her attack, king pulls back to f8. Oh my, I had seen that. But she played g3, Kg2!, h5! I just thought I wasn’t paying attention, but it was more than just that, she was attacking unstoppable. She didn’t want to court my ..c6 complications (even had I played it earlier). The tigress knew what she was doing!
When I played 16…BxBd5?, I thought to myself “This is either a blunder, or this is going to help me out.” Technically, I think that was the game losing blunder. After 16…Bd7, Black has a -0.5 advantage according to Crafty. Giving up that Ne4 square led to a strategically busted position for Black.
The end of the game could have gone 28…Kf8, 29. gxNf6 Qd8, 30.Qg3 Rg8, 31.Qg7! RxQ, 32.hxR followed by 33.Rh8 mate. White could also have taken the d6 pawn with 30.Nxd6 and something like a +6 score, although that introduces complications after 30…Qa8, so need for that.
I’m glad I told her that she played a great game, she is talented and really deserves to hear that. Sometimes I lose some stupid games to some average players, but in her case she really deserved the win.