So I show up for Thursday Round 3 and I am pitted against a new opponent, he’s Ethiopian.
I play a bookish (I think) line against him from the Nimzo-Indian Defense. This is the first time I ever remember playing this line of the Nimzo-Indian, online or otherwise.
He says he’s rated around 1500, but he’s only played in 9 games, provisional rating, so I don’t know how to take him so I try my best to simply focus on chess. I notice later he lost to the one 1100 kid that I beat in Round 1, but I think he’s beaten Dean (1500) maybe twice already, and lost to higher-rateds. He’s actually like 5 wins 4 losses, but has had to play in a lower quad, that sort of thing.
Okay, he is playing fast and his pieces are not even landing on the squares but literally half on one square and half on the other, so that I have to ask him once “Which square is that on?!” rather curtly. He seems completely casual. This guy is definitely another “50 minute-r” (finishing with over 50 minutes on his clock).
At one point I get back from the bathroom and he says “It’s your move”, while my clock (his clock actually) is ticking. So I am thinking to myself “Is this guy really a duffer or what?” I slowly sort of outplay him, but then can’t help but notice that he suddenly brings his arm up from below the table to look at his watch, and I think “I can’t believe it, this guy is totally bored and is not even paying attention to what he’s doing!?” BTW, he played his last few moves instantly, and then without missing a single beat looked at his watch.
Shazam! Right when this is happening and I am thinking this, after he has just looked at his watch, I make a game-losing blunder! And he was playing for it! (another example of a game where MDLM was right, a missed simple tactic). He played Rxd6 with no hesitation, after I had played fxe4. This guy is hardly a 1400 player!
Well, I have no alternative but to play into it even though I see that I have been swindled nicely – lost my focus for one move, was starting to think that he was making random moves or something. I played the blunder quickly, even though I still had nearly half an hour on my clock.
Now I realize keeping the queens on with something like 26..Qf6 loses to 27.Qxc5 defending against mate, winning a pawn, and my king should prove nearly undefendable, so I go for a rook ending, just hoping.
And the rest? Well, like the saying goes, “..this is why they play the game.”
This guy had lost games to players like Alex, Rhett, Anthea. His game to Alex, he clobbered Alex’s king position, but then botched the endgame and lost, supposedly. Thank goodness for endgames, huh?
I blew it on move 13..Qc7. I didn’t notice that after 13..Bxc4, 14.Bxc4 Nxc4, 15.e5 Black has ..Nd5 and is up a pawn. With the c4 pawn gone, Black has the ..d5 square available to the knight. I did not visualize this possibility. I saw it from the perspective of “winning a pawn” and not from one of “removing the c4 pawn in order to free up the d5 square.” Even that pawn is not winning. Forget rating, I am thankful that I got a draw as Black in a middlegame position that I wasn’t familiar with. Not something I normally think or say, but with these provisionals, you don’t want to be the opponent who proves how good they really are.
I only spent 5 minutes on the ..Qc7 move, it was like taking a pass on the situation and simply developing my queen out of harm’s way. I had been looking (dreaming) about the ..Bb3 possibilities, but my instincts were actually right about having so many of my pieces offside there, while he may have a shot at my king.
13..Bc4, 14.e5 (I was worried about this, but Fruit initially gives it nearly -2) ..Bb3, 15.Qd2 BxR, 16.exNf6 Qxf6 (something like ..Bd1xNf3 doesn’t work because of the attack on Black’s king), 17.Qxd1 Qxc3, 18.Bxh7+ KxBh7, 19.Bd2 Qc4, 20.BxNa5 Qd5, 21.Qc2+ Kg8, 22.Rad1 then it gives Qf5, 23.QxQ fxQ, 24.Rxd6 (White has knight and bishop for rook and pawn, but Black’s pawns are split up) it’s close to +1 here according to Fruit.
This draw cost me 12 rating points. That’s too funny. On the bright side I will perennially be in contention for U1800 prizes. Anthea tied for first in Wyoming in U1800 last week and probably made two hundred bucks or so.
Back to resuming daily tactics study for me. I’ve barely touched the critical sections on Discovery, Diversion, Clearance, Attraction. I’m still on Knight-Fork right now. I missed a critical tactic in this game.