Strange Finish

Round 3

I played Paul tonight, with the Black pieces as expected. Paul grabbed the initiative and should have won, but I never got nervous the entire game. In the complications, I was able to see things quickly and he appeared to be getting nervous. I guess he didn’t go for one of the winning shots that he saw, instead of playing Rxb7, and I returned the favor at the end.

The game score is not accurate. Everything is the same in that final position except that my pawn is on g3, not g4, so I am winning, BUT I had 5 seconds left on my clock. I saw the winning ..g5, hxg g2, gxh g1(Q), and then he can play h7 or even check so that rook is covering the pawn on h7, I see now. I was concerned that if I don’t mate, and I really may have 4.1 seconds since you can never trust a digital clock when it says 5, and if I spend 4 seconds not on delay that I could lose. Really, the whole thing has to be played on delay, you cannot use that 4 seconds really. So, He says “3-fold repetition”, and I can tell he’s not keeping score, but instantly agree and shake his hand, a fitting conclusion. I’ve been burned too many times with a drawn game where I barely lost on time, so I know that 5 seconds is not 5 seconds. If you pause when looking to find the mate at all, you are toast. I suppose I should have played on though, but mostly wanted to avoid the loss.

Afterward he mumbles how I am getting all of his rating points. I remind him that it’s only about 7 points. I felt like a gentleman about it, never got nervous, and knew I had been very lucky, so it’s a sensible result. I was inwardly surprised how everyone, even those with a life, care so much about rating points. I seemed to take the game in stride more, didn’t feel like I deserved to win it, but he blitzed in my time-pressure with bad moves. Even in post-mortem he seemed to have the “everything wins” mindset, but I was able to draw him, pointing out he should have blocked my pawns rather than traded.

I feel like a pro because I play so much, even if my effort was weak by objective standards. It’s still not as much an exertion as trying to solve combos at home. So when I get to the board, I may see or not see, but it’s not an undue exertion. I should be spending more time and energy on complications though, so I have gotten a bit lazy and soft I guess. For me, it was an enjoyable game. I actually enjoyed the game and it didn’t phase me at all. Once I asked for a draw and he refused “too many tricks still left in the position”. Respectable answer, but it tells that he was trying too hard to “win” since he was blitzing in my time pressure whilst he still had 27 minutes remaining.

I feel like people aren’t respecting the game, chess, when they are trying to ‘play the man’ (i.e., my clock). I almost want to say “Slow down, play it right, stop sweating and just win the game.”

In these weekday tournaments, I am more satisfied with a draw. If this were a big money game I would have blitzed it out for a win or loss on time. For some reason, I sort of think we are all friends here, but people care deeply about their results. Mark doesn’t want to play (he showed up this month) because the tournament is not strong enough. He had to play a kid, but him, I, and Paul are the strongest rated.

My rating at this very moment is maybe 1807, but I feel that that is an accurate rating for me at G/90 or slower. I wanted to play the K.I.D. against him, but decided to play something which I knew better, because of his higher rating. A fun game, a lot of missed tactics.

Really, I played badly yet confidently in those middlegame complications. It’s funny, I think that he is a better player than me, but for some reason I can outblitz a lot of people in the endgame, and it comes as a great shock to them because I take so much time earlier in the game, and perhaps make some moronic moves, I guess, but it’s the best I know how at the time. I deserved to lose this game, Paul played some amazing chess, but I tried my best. This is why I am happy for the draw. It wouldn’t have seemed right had I won this game. Me and Mark both saw that he had Rb2, not giving up the g-pawn, but he actually moved the rook to b5, I take, then he takes my a-pawn, and he played this nervously, hurriedly, in my time-pressure. I guess the pressure he feels to win is so great that he must try and blitz a loss out of me, can’t think of another explanation for such an obvious oversight, and horrific blunder to go after the a-pawn on his part. This is why the game score is inaccurate, he actually wasted a tempo somehow moving his rook to b5, when he saw he was going to lose his g-pawn.

This opening is close to the draw, which was also my intention. I defended better than I realized. You can’t pay attention to the score. Such as when I played that ..Bd6 defensive move, that does seem best, ignore the initial scores. When White played Rxb7 RxR, QxRb7, I should have replied with ..Bxh2+, KxB Qxd6+ followed by QxBd3.

I missed a tactic of NxNe4, BxNe4 Qh4, f4(forced) Nxe3 winning a pawn. Naturally, I was only thinking strategy, not tactics. He played NxNf6 and I immediately recaptured with knight as soon as he finished his move, but I thought I had ..gxNf6, but that would have lost quickly.

Maybe this happens to everyone, but when he was playing quickly at the start, he seemed very composed. As he started using time, he got more nervous and composure seemed to slowly ebb away as the game went. I guess everyone’s brain gets boggled as they start to think a lot, and then nervousness. G/90 is too short for me to get tired and nervous lately. It’s just a short game to me, I could play another one back to back. Perhaps this is from weekend tournament stamina.

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4 thoughts on “Strange Finish

  1. on the game score that was posted I think after 48 Kxg4 instead of Kxe4, I think white might have chances to protect f2, and might be able to eat both of blacks pawns on a4 and e4. interesting game…

  2. He was completely winning that endgame, I would agree. At the board, I saw that he could win with h5..hxg, Kxf. So much so that I had thought he had split my pawns that way and it made it difficult to recreate the game score because he had so many wins and found the amazing way to create a loss.

    It’s hard to say why someone would feel the need to blitz a won ending when they think of themselves as a great endgame player. I think the combinations and particularly a feel for the initiative are his best qualities now, much like his student Isaac.

    Okay, here’s the deal with that endgame, and I could see this at the board. He moved his rook to the 5th rank, so then I moved my rook to the 6th rank (again, hard for me to remember bad moves because even after the game Paul and Mark insisted that he had moved his rook back a rank (from 6th to 5th), which I couldn’t believe they didn’t even after the game realize this was bad). If he had left his rook on the 6th rank and gotten in h5, it is completely winning.

    If I had realized that he was going to be so unhappy with the draw, I would have played it for the win, win or lose. I know that you have to really move fast, though, to not tap into that last 5 seconds. It’s very easy to lose a won position on time just by chipping away a second or two on three different moves would be enough to do it. Actually, two moments of hesitation would be enough. Can’t hesitate there.

    I feel that I am probably a better endgame player than both Mark and Paul. Normally I would not say something like this because it means that I only have something to lose if I mess up against them in the endgame, but it’s probably true. I believe that it is still in the middlegame where they could both outclass me at times. He used the middlegame to transition to a winning ending, so he outclassed me in that sense (part of the reason I allowed it was my time), but once he had the won ending, I mean he let the cat (me) out of the bag.

    His is nearly 2000 because he can quickly play combinations and nice positional attacks without hesitation (I was impressed by the speed of his Nf5 and Qf3). He may win a lot of endings, but I think that means a lot of players get to 2000 by tactics so have quite weak endings still.

    I definitely don’t see myself as an endgames guru, but a lot of people who are that sort of style, I have beaten them in endgames where I should have lost. I still don’t get it, it must have been my core strength initially all along for a very long time now, probably even back to when I was 1300. I won endgames and lost everything else, basically. That’s probably why I don’t spend my time there, but I realized from this game that if play out even a losing endgame, or the more moves I play, the more chances it gives my opponent to go wrong. Really, I am the one that should be refusing a draw in the endgame – not if it were losing of course, but if it were equal.

    I gave that winning continuation with ..g5, but Paul thought he should then have played by moving his king forward to threaten mate. My king goes to g8, play ..Rf8 to block and 8th rank check, and that is it. I thought to myself, if he had continued this way, I definitely would have won with 5 seconds and the delay. If I had allowed him one more more on my clock, I would have been able to evaluate where the 5 second finish were still tricky or not. I knew instantly that that king move wasn’t going to work.

    What I mean to say is that where I spend all of my clock time in the game, the opening, I still get out-hustled in some way. Where I move quickly in complications, I do well. Where I blitz out endgames, I do well. I am really using the clock to protect against my weaknesses, opening blunders, which I hardly ever make OTB for that reason. If I hadn’t been studying combinations so much in the last few months, I probably would have fallen apart in the complications, so that is a new part of my arsenal.

    Another way of saying this is that even with clock-time, it’s not very possible for an animal to change the color of it’s stripes OTB, it’s better to do this in practice, study time.

    The critical part of the game is 15.Ne4?? because here I not only had ..Qh4, 16.f4 Nxe3, 17.Qe1 QxN, 18.RfxQ up a pawn but positionally White is not looking too hot and I should be able to win this sort of position – but to get to point B, you have to see point A – I also weakened my protection of c7 with 15..Bb5, so that upon 16.NxN, I really should have continued with 16..QxN, leaving the Nd5 to maintain control of c7.

    I’ve included this Example continuation here because I did not see how I was not losing a pawn (in analysis, of course. I never even considered ..QxNf6 recapture OTB), wouldn’t have felt comfortable with this ..Nb6 move at the end. This is something where Paul would have seen that he can not actually win a pawn, even while I am fretting that he will. Paul should keep the position in middlegame complications with lots of pieces still on, if he wants to “play the man”. Trading everything off and going into an endgame with me is sort of nuts, when a dynamic player like Paul can keep me in the middlegame. I should be saving my time for a position such as the one above, where a lot of a maneuvering is taking place. That I could play such a clumsy middlegame should itself suggest that I am looking for an endgame fight.

    This is the way that White should play 12.dxc5, and now White gets a very nuanced attack like this one: Example2

    There are plenty of places for either side to go wrong, and for the clock to become a factor.

  3. He was better after Nf5. This freaking Colle worked again, his Nf5 shows again how strong can be White’s attack. I thing g6 is one of the best defenses to this variation, he lulled you into his scheme.
    Yeah, that tactic with NxNe4, that was your chance, I think there is also a fork after Nxe3, so it was winning. Too bad we often get only one chance per game against the strong players and we miss it.
    In the end your perseverance paid off. He screwed up definitely, there were many ways to win, even a rook exchange with getting into the won pawn endgame.
    I don’t quite understand his reaction after the game, he himself repeated the moves, nobody forced him, so why look unhappy and complain about the rating drop?

  4. Exactly, RollingPawns. To some extent, I don’t even want to break him with a possible 2-0 in last two games because at the back of my mind, I am afraid he won’t show up at the club, if I do that, and this one doesn’t have many strong players.

    He was upset because he didn’t trick me somehow in an even position, that’s my feeling. Yes, he was the one forcing the draw. I guess when some people get into their “game mode” they become like that, win at all costs, and need to prove they are better. The thing is, he is less than 200 points difference. When I play 1300 or 1400, it is 300-400 points difference, so understandable to play for a win. Still, the draw is not crushing to one’s rating, so I was surprised by his reaction. I needed to remind him like three times that it was only 7 rating points. After all, if I lose then he gains rating points, maybe 14 of them, and he certainly didn’t deserve that!

    I schooled him a bit in the endgame post-mortem as well, he traded pawns, should have locked them up, then I held a pawn down rook ending, which surprised him since he insisted it was winning at first and that he didn’t need to lock pawns. I really feel right now that he plays fast because he’s looking for tactical tricks. Tacticians can spot tricks instantly.

    Yes, you are right RollingPawns, he lulled me. 😉

    I need to start winning these poorly played endgames. Neither of these two draws from Kurt or Paul did they congratulate me (particularly Paul), or breathe a sigh of relief. If they aren’t going to give me some sort of positive credit, then I may just as well stomp them in the endgame when I do get the chance, however rare it may be. If it hurts their feelings, so be it. Once we got outside, Paul was fine, no longer in his game-face mode, back to his normal likeable self.

    I believe it comes down to the number of moves. If you play enough moves you can win, even if it’s even. It can take more moves against a stronger player. Play more moves! 🙂

    Come to think of it, I should have played on for the $40 prize. Now I’ll probably win nothing, same as having lost the game. I don’t know why I simply can’t calculate the financial aspect when I am playing. I think it’s simply a game until it’s over, then oh yeah there was prize-money. It’s as if I need someone to tap me on the shoulder and remind me.

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