I played Kevin “Gene” Lucas for the first time as White. I’ve always gotten long, exciting games from him and this one was no exception.
He handed me my first real initiative with 11..NxNd4. I thought his idea would be to follow it up with 12..c5, but he played 12..Nc6 instead. I had a feeling he would play ..f5, but it’s not a good move.
We argue a lot about style on these blogs, and sometimes it may even take on the guise of sounding like criticism, but here I open up the position with 20.dxc6. It’s not the best move, 20.b4 is, but I was just under half an hour left and it was time to play by instinct a bit. I figured that Gene would have a more difficult time with tactical complications than simply strategic ones.
After this it felt like I was predicting his every move, but not really having enough time to find my own best ones. For example, I thought he would play 26..Ra7, and 27.Ng5 looked right, but I wasn’t sure. Earlier I had seen 27.Ng5 Ng6 stopping the h7 mate. Now I looked at it, spent one minute on the move (went from 5 minutes left to 4 minutes left after this move) and saw 27.Ng5 Rf7f8, but completely missed that Ng5 is threatening to win the exchange AND mate. Which is odd, since I found instantly such a winning move against Alex in skittles, afterward, but there is not the same pressure playing skittles.
Yes, I did see it! If 27.Ng5, then ..Bf5. Fruit likes Ng5, so I thought I had missed it, but now I remember that I had been paranoid about his light-bishop, earlier coming to g6 and now coming to f5. So yes, I did not miss something so obvious, but I had calculated so quickly that I couldn’t remember having thought it, OTB. In fact, I may have missed the mate on h7, but I did see the ..Bf5, which made the h7 mate threat irrelevant, and it was my last thought before playing Nc5. Okay, now I get it, I had played b3 first, a quick response, but then he replied ..Bd7, so that it was too late to play Ng5 FTW because then he had ..Bf5. I played b3 first to try and think more on his time before committing to the attack, but he took away the Ng5 possibility right away.
25.Bh5, a move earlier, was a really cool tactic that I had missed. If 25..g6, then Nh6+ picks up the exchange, and if we trade on f5, then I take on e8, that pawn will be escorted home after Bxc6 and then Rc8 later.
I had spent a lot of time in this attack, even though I never did pull the trigger on it. For example, I saw that 26.Bg4 could be parried by ..Rf8, 27.Ne5 Bg6!? (looks scary!), and it this time control, that was scary enough for me. But 28.Qa3!! Rf7, 29.Ng5 Qxf4, 30.NxRf7 wins the exchange for the f4 pawn. But White will win the c6 pawn back because Black’s knight is attacked twice. I am always trying to improve with my queen after a game, not simply be paranoid with it and want to exchange it to reduce such a liability.
Now I begin to play away my advantages into a lost position. I don’t know if I have some kind of E.S.P., but it seemed as if I had predicted his moves since move 13 onward, even though they are not best. Still, only enough time to chiefly guess at stuff.
I over him a draw before we trade queens, but he simply makes a move, playing quickly in my time pressure. He had 51 minutes to my 27 seconds at one point.
Now I changed my mind and decided to take the queen with my king, then see his Rf8+ threat. He does it and I figure I’m lost now. I play on in sheer desperation.
Suddenly, he is looking at my h4 pawn which I haven’t touched for a while and he says “Is this pawn on this square or this square?” It was clearly centered in a square and I say “Don’t talk to me, I only have 9 seconds left.” All the while, we are both blitzing, him in my time-pressure.
And then, well, I can’t make this stuff up as you well know by now, he gets up and turns his back to the table and right after he mumbles something like “You got it now.” after I push the pawn to b8. I grab the nearest queen and place it on b8. Big problem, the nearest queen is your opponent’s color. So Paul A., a 1950 player, immediately blurts out to the TD, as I change it for the right colored queen, something like “Hey, he promoted it to the WRONG color! What happens now?” I am thinking to myself “*#!&* Thanks a whole freaking lot Capt. Obvious, the spectator. TD is not supposed to rule unless an aggrieved player complains.” but immediately blurt out no sooner than he finishes his sentence “He resigned before I promoted.” and the TD immediately replies “No need to rule, he had already resigned.” Whew! that was a close one, folks. 🙂
I want to disagree with the observation made after my Wednesday win. You do not want to feel like you have played a game of chess in G/90, since even after 90 minutes you don’t feel as if you have played one, if the opponent spends around 40 minutes himself. It’s a backhanded-compliment to tell someone they won too fast at G/90, since someone either wins too fast or it gets down to blitzing at the end, take your pick. Blitzing is not preferable to a quick win. These aren’t 4 hour games, more like 2 hour games in total. Still, I was very pleased that I got a long game with him which combined opening, positional, tactical, and endgame play. We both enjoyed it.
His comment immediately after the game was “I should have known not to get into an endgame against an 1800 rated player.” My h4 and b4 had taken him by surprise. I made one game losing blunder. 42.Ke2, irrationally playing this in the event that he doesn’t trade rooks; but he can trade as he wishes, and 42..d3+, 43.Ke1 d2+, 44.Ke2 RxR, 45.KxR d1(Q) wins for Black.
My rating at the end of this month will be around 1795. Which basically means that two months from now I will be in-line for any Under 1800 prizes, since they go by the two month old rating. I gained approximately two rating points for those two tournaments. Thanks mostly to the loss that should have been a win to a 1400 player and a draw to another one. Even Josh, the Master, had a long game against the guy I drew last week, and I warned him that the guy was good at tactics.