I had a bad feeling about this first round game before I even showed up. I got matched with a new opponent, a provisional one, and he looked determined, so I was already uncomfortable right off the bat, although I knew to expect this.
While I am scarfing down my cherry-turnover dinner, away from the board, he is just blitzing out his moves, and spends approximately 15 minutes on the entire game.
I don’t know what to expect and felt like he had caught me napping with his 7..Qf6. I was in such opening shock, that it took me a long time to find what should have been an obvious move 8.Be3. Instead I spent a long time looking at 8.Qb3, but I saw that it didn’t work, that it would give up a piece for a pawn in an attack where he could ultimately play this Nc6-e5-d7 maneuver (impossible maneuver – I was obviously seeing ghosts by the end of the analysis). And yet, I was pleased with my position after 8.Be3.
I decided to play 12.0-0 and work on his c-file, although after I played that, I realized that 0-0-0 would have protected b2 better, but it looked as though it could get messy after his …Nc6 moves and then …c5. I wasn’t overly worried about his kingside attack.
When he lets me get in 15.Nb5, which I had been looking at seemingly forever, he appears to start really playing for the clock (as if he hadn’t been before).
I just corrected the game-score, at first I thought I could have saved my bishop on g5, but he played …Rg7 first, which I had seen that he was going to do. I missed the real subtlety of this position however (with only 11 minutes left). If I had played 24.f4, instead of Kh1, Crafty says I am +8 after ..Rg8 25.Kf3 Bf8 and now Black’s c-file is weak (c7 square), no surprise there, but the fact that my light-squared bishop has no opponent becomes a big factor now. First, White can bear down on the c6 pin, but after clamping down on Black, White can switch a bishop over to win the h-pawn, and even as Crafty is showing me all this I didn’t notice that for the longest time.
After this, my bad moves come in bunches, but will he pick up what I am throwing down? This is the question.
All he has to do now is to march the pawn down for the win, but then something strange happens, defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory. He plays this …Nc6-b4-c6-b4. I found this even more hard to believe re-creating the game, as he stopped writing down his moves as soon as I did ( I was under 5 minutes ). I asked Paul about this, and he said that it is legal in SD time-control games, something I did not know.
Getting back to the game, I feel that I am totally busted, and yet spend the time to find 47.Rc4+, a possible way out, yet the only try – it wouldn’t have been worth playing on, otherwise.
Then, the game gets even weirder, which I can only explain by showing the game score. Even after 47.Rc4+, Black has a very enlightening endgame win. However it was the sort of position where both sides needed to play accurately, a forcing variation/win was at hand for Black, though, had he seen it even then. I should have played 49.Rc7, which still loses to the move he should have played instead of 49…Kb2?? (49…a5! wins easily for Black). His blitzing bit in him in the butt at the very end. Yahoo! A stronger player would have known to slow it down here.
Usually, I don’t get a chance to analyze my games as endgames. Next week may see another endgame, with a superb endgame player. I have to face Paul, rated 1973, as Black.
Here is the real question of the game, “Was I justified by thinking that there was something there on the queenside, with his light-squared bishop gone and his pieces currently not so well placed?”
In the end, I had seen that this is good for Black:
8. Qb3 Nxd4 9. Qa4+ c6 10. Nc3 b5 11. Nxb5 cxb5 12. Bxb5+ Ke7, which is -1 for Black. But I did missed a subtlety in this line, taking on b5 with the bishop, rather than the knight, is winning for White:
8. Qb3 Nxd4 9. Qa4+ c6 10. Nc3 b5 11. Bxb5 cxb5 12. Nxb5 Nc6 13. Nd4 winning the Nc6 +4.67 according to Crafty.
IOW, I had missed that 10…b5? would simply be a game-losing blunder, but that by ignoring all of this with 10…Be7, Black is equal.
The really disturbing part is that I had come incredibly close to playing this variation:
8. Qb3 Nxd4 9. Qxb7 Rd8 10. Bb5+ Nxb5 11. Qxb5+ Rd7
So much so that I can’t believe that I looked it off. It was a last moment decision to look for a safer, more natural move, and if Be3 hadn’t looked so appealing, I mean I had even reached to play that line above. But then I did this long blunder-check (too much doubting, since I never found what was wrong with it exactly). I simply went for the safer move, even knowing that 10…Nc2+ in this variation was a trap, but after spending all of that time decided to take a pass. Ultimately, I correctly realized that I had the bishop pair, and that QxQf3 would give me a strong center, and a chance to play for a “Karpovian” sort of (safe) win.
Naturally, I had missed that there was a tactical finish in the above line, which leaves White up the exchange:
8. Qb3 Nxd4 9. Qxb7 Rd8 10. Bb5+ Nxb5 11. Qxb5+ Rd7 12. Bg5! a6 13. Qb8+ Rd8 14. Qxd8+ Kxd8 15. Bxf6+ Nxf6 16. Nc3
I should have been more fearless and played it. Either way, this is one aspect of where I can still enjoy OTB analysis and improve while playing lower-rated players. It gives me the chance to try and find these lines. Really, if I were much stronger, I would see such lines all the way through, and have the nerve to play the move!
Also, if 11..Ke7, then 12.Bg5 pin wins at once since 13.BxQ will be with check! I completely missed the 12.Bg5 idea.
Man, one of these days I am going to pull the trigger, probably against a stronger player (like Paul next week), since I know that I can’t fart around with them by making natural moves (Paul can play a technical middlegame/endgame better than I). OTH, I really don’t want to try anything insane against a stronger player, since gaining equality and a draw (not easy) would be a respectable, satisfactory result in itself.
By the end of game, strangely enough, I still have over 2 minutes left on my clock (thanks to the 5 second delay).
I have learned so much from going over this game, a lot of different endgame moves. I never learned this much from my online games. OTB games seem to address the ‘holes in my game’ better than with (stupid attack) online games. OTB, one can improve. Online has a lot of “hope-chess” automatically built into it – “Eww, eww, I need to win this one, I will play crazy!”
46.Rd3 instead of 46.Rc2? and White is not losing, winning I think.