Between me and Rhett. We had only played once before, where I had won to tie for first in my section at the Bobby Fischer Memorial. Rhett likes to take all of his time, so that for once I can actually say that I played a 3 hour game at G/90. This is what makes the game so enjoyable for me, win or lose.
Ostensibly, I went over there to help Anthea with her last games’ endgame at her request, but it got me to play whereas I otherwise wouldn’t have. So I got a bye for round 1.
I don’t know why I played this pawn sac in the opening, as it was really a blunder, quick move. At first I planned on playing 9..c6, so that after 10.dxc Bxc I would have nice play with the bishops, for the pawn.
But then I went for 9..Bg4 instead, which isn’t good, but he replied 10.Qe3, which was my luckiest moment in the match, as now I got a real initiative. 10.Qg3 with the idea of Qh4, and Ne4, and Bg5 even, could have really salted away his extra pawn. All I knew at the time was that 10.Qg3 definitely seemed best.
On the following move, after 10..Nxd5, I expected 11.Qd5 Be6 with an interesting game ahead, but now he finally moves Qg3. After the game, I told him that he wasted a tempo with his queen instead of playing Qg3 the first time.
I played 11..f5 and what is it with seeing drawbacks as soon as one is moving a piece? As I am moving the pawn, I see that he will play 12.Ne4, but then I became oddly happy that he took up the gauntlet, playing it while his king was still undeveloped.
I considered 12..Be7, but then 13.Qxe5 0-0, 14.Qe6+ looked too slow for Black, and I didn’t feel that his queen was getting trapped, so I castled instead.
Now he started spending a lot of time, not liking his position evidently, and neither did I. He played 14.Bg5 to gain some development, although nothing looked quite satisfactory for White. I thought that 15.Qh4 was a blunder, and it is.
Now here is where the game gets wild and I make some sub-par moves according to Fruit. Apparently 21…Qg5 instead of 21..Qc5 was winning quickly because of the discovered mate on d2, as well as the Nxg2+ threat. I choose to go after the f2 instead, during our mutual time-scramble. I was expecting him to sac a pawn to castle queenside earlier, but he said that that was just losing.
He plays 24.Rf1, and suddenly, having not even considered this move, I realized that my advantage is gone unless I do something quick. I spent around 2 minutes on the move which seals it, with 24..Nxg3, and luckily his back-rank mate threats were defended against perfectly. True to form, he had seconds left on his clock at the end, whereas I had 2 1/2 minutes. He didn’t see 24..Nxg3 coming at all, but it’s sort of hard to look to defend against that sort of move in time-trouble in any case. I had been expecting 24.f4, in which case ..Ng3 is still the reply; so, the move wasn’t far from my eye.
After last night, I guess I remembered not to play too crazy. This game is a good example of why to study combinations. I think I saw that whole continuation in around 2 minutes, and most of that time was spent regretting how Rxf8 no longer works. Once I spotted the Qe3 idea, it only took me around a minute to see that it works out before I played it. So, the important thing wasn’t just that I saw the combo, but played it quickly too, and that added to the surprise effect when he saw it and thought it was probably simply a blunder.
I haven’t studied any combinations for the last two days, no internet chess warm-up (I haven’t for quite a while), only my game analysis with Fruit, and analyzing RollingPawns’ game without a computer. It didn’t feel very taxing to play that combo either. The combo study paid off. I’ve known that a lot of Class A players can do this, though, which is why I’ve had to learn how to as well.
As I would explain this game to TommyG, I caught him attacking into my attack. If he had played Qg3 the first time, it would have been his attack, but because he sort of lolligagged with his queen for that extra tempo, it suddenly became my attack.
This is how you beat 1800’s, just as with the game against Isaac last night, development was not smoothly balanced between the pieces. I had all of my pieces but the Ra8 developed, and he was caught struggling to develop.