I played Kurt tonight, and was 0-3 record against him going into this game. I prepared, but he deviated with the O’Kelly variation.
This game, I was still tired from yesterday night’s game, so perhaps that contributed toward missed opportunities.
I knew that the purpose of the O’Kelly is to play ..e5 after my knight lands on d4, but I figured that ..a6 probably wouldn’t hurt him enough in the C3 Silician. After the game, I remembered Nunn saying that “c4 is probably the only way to get an advantage against the O’Kelly”, or something like that, but I never even considered the obvious 3.Nc3, transposing back into normal Open Sicilian channels.
I missed his ..d5, which is a cliched move for Black in the Sicilian, only thinking of ..d6, or I would have played Nf3 instead of Nf5.
I was looking to play f4, but completely missed 18.f4. Black can respond with 18..Ng4, but I thought I was simply losing the c5 pawn for anything reckless looking like that. Plus, I didn’t want a Bb7 hitting my g2 pawn.
At the end of the game, he offered a draw. I had 3 1/2 minutes and accepted the draw with 1:59 remaining on my clock, figuring that I wouldn’t have time to win a won position, but I didn’t see the right continuation anyway. I was going to play 40.Kd3, which can retain some complicated winning chances, if played correctly. But the reason he offered the draw is because he saw 40.Rd5!
This is one of those situations where if I could have spent those last two minutes to make a “40th move”, I probably find 40.Rd5 in the last few seconds, and then proceed to spend an hour, assuming, working on trying to win the endgame. But at G/90, this is where my fallacious use of time comes back to bite, in an endgame against a strong player.
Another thing is when you are blitzing with a few minutes left, and someone offers you a draw, it throws you off of your blitzing rhythm, and now you are forced to think it out beyond just the current move. I was confident, but once he offered the draw, I had to doubt my intentions to play on with so little time remaining. Still, I made the right choice even for having a complex winning position where I could nab a pawn. Just not enough time to play it accurately. He had around 17 minutes remaining, so the time-scramble wouldn’t have been mutual, although I am sure he could see how I was gaining on him on the clock with every move.
I finally figured out how Black could draw it a pawn down in the rook ending. Engine score is not overly helpful because you know it’s a draw when the engine is saying +2, but you are simply repeating moves with the engine, going nowhere. I found a lot of White wins before figuring out the Black draw. Of course, if I had overstepped the time, I still would have lost.
I couldn’t believe it, Alex, Isaac, Dean, and Jason each congratulated me on the draw separately. I didn’t realize that not losing to Kurt was such a feat, but it was a nice surprise that a draw could be so well regarded. This is why it’s nice to always play tough, because people will love you for playing the role of spoiler (to help their chances), even if you can’t get the job done for yourself.
Probably, if you took a snapshot of my current rating after this game, it is 1800 or 1801, something like that. But I am going to play that 5-round tournament this weekend where I have to “run the gauntlet” of weaker players, since I am usually in the top 1/4, ratings-wise, of a local Open tournament.
Here’s the details:
Monument Open III, August 20 – 21, 2011
5 round Swiss system tournament.
Time Control: G/120
Site: The Inn at Palmer Divide, 443 State Highway 105, Palmer Lake, CO 80133
Open: One open section.