A Battle of Nerves

This was my third meeting with Peter, my first time with the White pieces. The game started out as a reasonable looking Sicilian Dragon. Now, the real game was the game behind the game.

He should have known that I had been slacking on my theory when I played 7.f3. Anyone who knows the theory of this line knows it goes 7.Be3 and if 7…Ng4??, then Bb5+ wins the Ng4. I always forget that, but it’s a minor point.

He played 11..b5 and I immediately thought of “Kasparov’s Gambit”. My analysis was bad since I didn’t see that 12.Ndxb5 works, had only seen 13.Bb3 dropping b5, and not noticing the bishop could go back to say e2, still defending b5, but I was also worried about the pin of …Qb6 with the idea of …a6, Knight moves, Qb2 mate. Yes, I hadn’t seen that 12.Ndxb5 allows the Be3 to attack the b6 square, so no ..Qb6.

My longest think of the game was 15.g4, spending around 20 minutes deliberating over playing 15.h5, but then deciding to roll with the punches instead of giving him a possiblity of directly countering something. Around here the position is roughly equal no matter what I play.

He is the first one to flinch, saying after the game that “I wasn’t getting in my attack fast enough.” Hey, I don’t lead them to the cliff, just nudge them over the edge – or in this case, collect my treats on the b2 square. 😀

I sensed that I was doing real well after only the second move because I felt like cool-hand Luke. Nothing to lose and not too excited having cut back caffeine to two cups of tea a day. Once we entered the Open Sicilian, I could tell he was suddenly breathing heavy, older gentleman. Ironically, I didn’t get nervous until he sacked his rook on b2, then remembering I hadn’t won much lately, started to sweat a little myself, even knowing there was no way to lose this game after that sac.

He didn’t give me a chance to show off any of the pretty mates I had calculated, not even a line where he plays …Rb8, I play Rb1…QxNd4 (attacking the loose knight on c3), RxR+ followed by Kb2 defending c3. Nope, can’t show that off.

His rating has gone up to 1500, but my #1 nemesis opening to face is the Sicilian Dragon, so I was glad that it turned out okay. I figure that Black typically plays 150 points above their rating when playing the Dragon, just because the opening gives them so many chances and puts the bigger burden of proof on White with the more attackable king’s position. The prudent choice as White would have been Be2, f4, 0-0.

At the end of the game I had 34 minutes on my clock, and he just under an hour, but that is nothing to be proud of considering that he simply dumped his rook and queen into my lap on the b2 square.

This game seemed to prove the current trend of defense winning more games than offense.

This month I won 2, then lost 4, before winning another 2, so my new rating is 1705. I just looked over a bunch of scoresheets and it made me realize that virtually all of my lost games were due to bad time-management or not coping with the time-control. It’s funny, I lost that one game to John after having an extra cup of tea and feeling ‘spaced-out’ in that loss, and the next night I cut back drastically on the caffeine and made an impulsive error in the opening. It’s taken me a while to get my act together at G/90. One reason I still point this out is that my games are still the last ones done even when I finish after only 90 minutes or 120 minutes, a lot of games are over after only 60 minutes, a lot of people are blitzing.

I just realized something rather pathetic. The USCF rating calculator is almost dead accurate for my 2 tournaments this month, it is only off 1 rating point on Thursdays and exactly accurate for the Wednesday’s one. Okay, so I thought beating these 1200 and 1300 level players counted for something, it barely does at all.

Beating the 1500 rated guy tonight, 5 rating points, beating the 1296 and 1300 level guys on Wednesday night, 2 and 3 rating points respectively. I don’t have to mention that beating the 300 level kid (who actually won against the 700 level girl) only got me one rating point – naturally a draw was worth -18 and a loss worth -30. Shoot, all he needed to do was fib a little and call touch move when I brush over a piece, and I am toast.

Let’s finish the math. For those 4 wins combined, I get a grand total of 10 rating points, which means that for losing the other 4 games, I lost 48 rating points! Shoot, I was bleeding 12 points a game even though that John is around 1950. One of those losses counted for more than all 4 wins put together. I did the calculation, not playing them wouldn’t have cost me anything, I simply wouldn’t have gotten those combined 10 rating points. sheesh. They may as well be blundering queens and rooks for all I am getting out of it. hehe. 😉

Here is what my opponent was trying to do to me, in vivid detail:
b2 Sac

I hate to admit it, but the thing that helped me most in this game was spending 20 minutes on that one move. Naturally, that is not desireable, but against < 1600 players that usually has a positive side-effect, and that is they are used to wrongly correlating time on the clock to time on the board. "We've been here an hour now, aren't I supposed to be getting my attack in already?" Of course, the wily veteran realizes that only 15 moves or so have been played and it's not yet time to attack in terms of time in moves on the board.

I could take that b-pawn and win, but it has to be done in the utmost circumspect way, tactically speaking. I was flipping through John Nunn’s book on “Beating the Sicilian 3” last night, and he mentions how ..a6, ..b5 is usally too slow, and that Black tries to get ..b5 in on one move. Well, this opponent knew what he was up to, apparently! All I had to do is walk into that snare that he set and it’s all over.

I just realized how hopeless that G/90 is for me. Alex beat me for the 4th straight time and then loses to the 1300 player, which unfortunately is not surprising, so now he drops down to 1585, his only win against me, plus he even drew the 1200 player that I beat on Wednesday.

If I lose to Alex, I lose 20 rating points, so I have to beat him 2 1/2 times for every loss, and a draw against him merely negates the win I had last night vs. the 1500 player. lol. It’s freaking hopeless. I like when a player actually climbs in rating, really puts a serious effort into that. It sucks when there are slackers that just want to beat the top guys, carelessly lose to their under-classment, so that beating them is never a fair trade-off.

These underclass players, even Alex, they’ve all had these tournaments if not more than one, and it’s usually more than one, where they play in a super low section, _and_ dump all of their games. Then they come back and try their best to beat me after all that. It’s tough getting rating points because even the 1700’s are gunning for me. There aren’t any more players that take me for granted like there once was. I remember, ah the days when opponents took me for granted, not suspecting anything, and now it’s just the opposite.

What I need to do is drop down to 1300, that way every time I win against a 1500 it will be +20 and a loss will be -5, and I can feel good about myself again. hehe. Kidding. But like I say, many of my 1700+ level opponents are already doing it. Katie 1700’s loses to Gene, whom I’ve beaten all 5 times, he’s 1500’s – quite a bit of 1700’s lose to him, but I haven’t. John dropped a a game to a 1500 player, so he’s already drinking the cool-aide, and even had a sloppy game/win against a 1300 the other night and would have taken a draw if the 1300 (whom I’ve beat every time) had asked him for one. Last time I dropped a game to a 1500, besides Alex, was a year ago to Jerry, whom I mistakenly thought was an A player when I was playing him. It just means when I do play 1700+, they are all looking to make up their ratings misfortunes by beating me. Like I say, I am more consistent against lower-rated than any Class player I’ve ever met, the problem is they look at me as their rating-points bag, the ones a little higher – the game with me is their “make up” game.

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4 thoughts on “A Battle of Nerves

  1. I won’t take on b5 too and Bb3 looks OK. I am not sure I like Bxc4, you didn’t take a pawn on b5 and here you open the line for free.
    The sac on b2 looks really weird, completely non-sound. Don’t try to defend it with your scenario, it’s a different game (why would you play Na7?).
    I don’t understand why would an adult continue at all after 22. Nd5 and play Qb2+?
    Regarding ratings – you have to beat lower rated, I don’t mean very low rated you described like 1300, no question here, I mean rated 150-200 lower than you. I think that if in September 2010 I played in 2000+ section with my 1902 rating (threshold was 2000-100), my rating now probably won’t be 1842, i.e. 60 lower, all because of these guys.

  2. LMAO! perhaps he’s gotten used to playing those 300 and 700 level kids – “I’ve found a new game, let’s play trading dropped pieces.”

    Ndxb5 works under a really weird scenario, but it works, apparently. White plays Nb6-a3-b1 (computer suggested the weird, bad Na7), then b3 and White has a virtual fortress and will win as Black’s attack can’t overcome White’s defense plus attack. If White doesn’t play this highly prophylactic sort of scenario, then that Rxb2 sac keeps working in a mulitude of variations! If I had taken the pawn and then curled up into a ball, Black doesn’t have enough activity.

    BxNc4 is de rigeur in normal variation, but you may be right here, in general. I figured my queen has nowhere to go though since it needs to keep Bh6 defended and Black also has e5, so queen is stuck for a move.

    You are right, you would have been better off in a top section, although there is the chance you end up with 1899 rating and just barely fall into the lower-section. But at least you would have learned some of the repertoire of those top players, and some of their mannerisms and beliefs.

    Playing at the top of the section is like a hamster trying to escape it’s cage by running on the wheel, there is always that one draw that pulls you back in, it takes a perfect 4/4 or at worst 3.5/4 to escape back into the top section, and now you are up against the “dumb luck” of the lower-rated players. It’s tough but at least you aren’t in an open-swiss facing tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum, you faced a lot of 1600 and 1700 players, which is still reasonable.

  3. What you say about ratings is accurate, IMO. For example, I need to win or draw against Alex everytime. My biggest hurdle has been the clock, I need to play quickly yet not at his pace. For example, in my last game, Qh3 is not losing, in fact I am hoping he repeats so I can mate him in that line. The way I played it was obviously losing, and I had considered playing the right move, but was allowing myself to feel rushed as he makes these seemingly instant replies – of course, once I messed up I really was in a bind on board and clock.

    Many will play G/30 in G/90, it’s something to always watch out for. The ones who are really cagey will even slow-play a bit, in other words play slower than usual because they are up 20 minutes on the clock. This becomes a big component of their rating! 😉

  4. Hmm, forget what I said about Qh3, just checked it again, doesn’t lose material but is positionally bad, Black gets a big initiative. But I can still remember how confidently he played it, and I think I can always expect that level of confidence out of him. If anything, he gets over-confident against lower-rated players.

    I may or may not play on Wednesdays next month, but definitely not on Thursdays. I need some time to recover from all this chess study, and also focus on other things before the “Bobby Fischer” memorial tournament mid-month – May 21-22, 4 rounds at 40/2, SD/1.

    I think I am going to take a break, though, and just play in that next month. I was surprised at the low turnout of both tournaments last month, but G/90 is not really my thing, anyway. Not that I am great at 40/2, and don’t get into time-trouble, but it doesn’t kick me in the @ss quite as bad as it does at G/90.

    Actually, I am going to study instead of play weekdays because I want to use that post-game analyis waste of of a game time (of 1300-1700 level players at G/90) on something more valuable. “Starting out: The C3 Sicilian” by Emms, looks great and I haven’t touched it. I want to get at least started on that book before the big tournament, and perhaps get in a little tactics study as well.

    To be honest, I don’t even have the $50 or $55 EF to enter that tournament, so as of now my chess is on hold, not sure when I’ll get back to tournament chess again, but I’ll let you know next time I play.

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