For the final round this month, I was paired against Katie. We have a 2-2 record head to head.
I decided to play quiet, Alapin Sicilian, because Anthea showed me this position where she showed her coach that I had blundered last night by allowing Bb3, Ng5 and Nf7+. It freaked me out, thinking I had blundered right off the bat and that I didn’t know how to get through the first few moves without blundering (which is how I often lose).
I just checked, and it is as if White were given an extra tempo against that Ruy Lopez Open Defense, with what she showed me, because I checked with Fruit and I didn’t blunder after all, played it right – post-mortems are often like that, with “ghost blunders”. But otherwise, her coach confirmed what I had told her.
Anyway, that was what was in my head before this game. I decided that Katie is quite a capable player, so I didn’t want to blunder and a draw should be fair result between us.
Well, I get a lot of mileage out of opponents being unfamiliar with theory, and such was the case in this game. She was spending lots of time in the opening as if unfamiliar with it, which right there justified my playing it.
I knew that 8..Bd6 would be a blunder before she played it, was expecting ..Be7 or ..Bb4. She could patiently play against my isolated pawn, but instead went on the offensive. Psychologically, this didn’t surprise me because I know that she likes to ‘jump the gun’ offensively. I love it when opponents attack me right off the bat with the Black pieces, as it is often a sure recipe for disaster, and not very drawish.
She kept the attack going skillfully, but it was sort of like throwing fuel on the fire. OTH, she had ‘crossed the Rubicon’, and there was no turning back for her attack.
The rest of the game was mostly a middlegame technical skill challenge for me. Her 10..Nbd7 was a powerful psychological blow, and I needed time to find my way before finding 11.hxB Nxg, 12.g3
She asked me after the game what would have happened after 10..Bxh3, and I told her that I would have continued with 11.Ne5 Qh4, 12.g3 and the queen has nowhere to go (it +4.5 or thereabouts). I also mentioned to her that after 10..Bf5, I had 11.Nb5, but I think she had seen this and didn’t like it (I didn’t realize how truly losing it was for Black).
In any case, the Alapin variation is mostly a quiet opening, and I told her that her attempt to play it tactically is what helped me most.
I signed up for this weekends tournament because it looks like I may start this new job on Sunday (tech support at a call-center), with possibly a month of training during swing-shift, so that I would miss the club games for next month. It is an “Open” tournament, and I almost wasn’t going to play because I know that I will face a lot of lower-rateds where I have everything to lose, ratings-wise, and I will need to take a last-round bye.
In a way, now I have to face some of these same opponents this weekend, and they won’t be as gullible next time.
I can play 4 rounds, and hopefully the 4th round doesn’t last beyond 75 moves or I will possibly be late for my first day of training. This is the problem with G/90 + 30 second increment. One cannot be sure when the game will end! After 90 moves I would be forced to resign in order to run out the door in time.
I should feel excited about this, but I have been feeling more burned-out in a way, lately. At least this tournament will be during the day, though, which is always appreciated. But for example, I am not even playing the openings lately, I am simply refuting people’s boneheaded approaches in openings which they are unfamiliar with. I feel like this, combined with lack of openings study and only playing, is weakening me possibly. These don’t feel like “real” games, even when I am playing them. In fact, tonight’s game was a miniature as was last nights. How realistic is this?? When people play these weekend tournaments, they rarely fold quickly, even the 1300 players will force me to put one in the ‘best games collection, so to speak, just to gain the win as if it were automatic, and we all know that none of these wins are “automatic.”
I don’t think that Anthea’s borderline-Expert-rated coach helped her too much with that one (that is the problem, we are not computers). She was saying that I played ..b5, Bb3 and _then_ ..Nf6 (I play ..Nf6 first), which allows Ng5, and then it was like “Eww, I am so busted because I have to play ..d5 (Alex and Rhett were also looking at it)”. But after ..d5, exd Nd4 it is Black who has an advantage, according to Fruit. Too funny. This is why one has to stop freaking around with the position, and simply know book to some extent. IOW, follow the main-line, and stop looking for garbage shots on every move.