Endgame again

Round 2

I played against Kurt for the first time as Black. I decided to play the Fischer variation of the Nimzo-Indian to see if that would throw him off a bit (as if any of us are really openings experts).

I got through the opening unscathed, and I thought he got too aggressive in the middlegame, not playing defense and giving me an attack.

Apparently, my 19.gxf6? was a blunder, and he should have replied with 20.Bh6, that was his winning chance.

I missed my winning chance, played 29..Kg7?, really under the notion of “It seemed like he blundered, so a blunder must = hanging piece.” I was in time-pressure and blurted out this move. After the game, two other 1900 level players told me they thought I had missed a win by not playing 29..Ree2, and I didn’t realize why that would be winning until I thought about it while driving home. I realized that his Rf6 defends against the mate, but that it’s overworked and can no longer oppose the bishop, so 30..Bh3 would be next. Up until I realized that, I was not upset that I had lost, but came home and sure enough Fruit found what I had been thinking of, but only after a few seconds. Of course I realized that ..Kg7 was a dumb move right after I had played it, but I did not think of the win until driving home.

When we got into an opposite colored bishops endgame, I was thinking draw, but he got two outside passed pawns, and I had pawn islands on the side of the board where his king was. I could have played the endgame better, and we did so post-mortem, and he said it was a draw, but for some reason I kept incorrectly thinking that his dark-bishop was the same color as the queening square on a8. I didn’t even realize that it was the wrong color until just now.

Going over the missed tactics in the middlegame, particularly with my own chances, I realized that there is a temptation to only look for hanging pieces in time-pressure. But the important thing in chess is not what is hanging, but rather what is over-worked. Overworked, under-developed, under-defended, interposed against, it could be a piece or a square or a file. Chess is not a game about grabbing free-material, and it’s not a game about simply waiting for it to happen. A piece can be purposely made to be overworked as well, not simply waiting to spot it once it’s happened. That is lazy chess, and I was playing it. I guess this is what happens when I have been busy working and no time to study tactics this past week. Time-pressure is really an excuse to be lazy, because deep down, you wanted to not blunder in the opening, but do whatever without bothering to analyze later in the game.

The sporting explanation of what happened is that he intentionally blitzed me in my time-pressure, as he had 48 minutes left at the end, and I only a few seconds. Not only did he blitz, but he could blitz a strong endgame, and that is not where I wanted to be against him. A tactical try for the draw (or win or loss) would have been a better idea than going into this endgame, drawable or not.

I was held up by a train and a few accidents on the highway, else i was going to eat and get some coffee when I got there, so that I was never nervous and didn’t have my usual nervous energy in time-pressure, which helps motivate in those tactical situations. But I realize that it is better not to drink coffee and eat, and simply manage the clock better instead. Then I can play better and not be nervous. There is also less nervous energy when I realize this isn’t someone I have to win against, but then I should play smoother on the clock to substitute for the reduced nervous energy.

I missed the mate. 31..Ree2 (instead of ..Kg7?), 32.Rxf Rg2+, 33.Kh1 Rxh2+, 34.Kg1 Bh3, 35.Be5+ Kg8, 36.Rg7+ Kf8, 37.Rxh Rcg2+! (never even considered this because I didn’t see…)38.Kf1 Rh1 mate. So basically what you need to see as Black is that mate, plus the fact that the ..Bh3 is dragging the White rook off of the f-line. Of course their is also the nice and useful aesthetic that White’s pieces look stuck for a move, but that is not the concrete solution. It takes time or skill to find the solution. Naturally, skill is always preferable.

Another interesting thing about that line above is that it doesn’t even cost Black a tempo to take that h2 pawn because of all the checks. So it’s the same effect as moving your Black rook to h2 and bishop to h3 all in the same turn. It’s important to keep that fact in mind because then you can confidently look for Black’s tactical follow-up after that, without worrying about any type of concluding attack for White just yet. ..Kg7 was simply a way to “cheat” around calculating, not seeing the obvious ..Raf1 reply. I had calculated most of that line above, but the conclusion of a calculations is a very important part of it.

I should mention that this tactic would not have been the end of the game for White. In fact, white can sac the exchange on h3 and Black must play right. For example, White has plays like d7 ..Rd2, Bd4! interposing a bishop sac to promote the the pawn. So Black has to play Rcg2+, Kf1 Rcd2 followed by Rh6 to overwork that bishop with a mate threat, in order to win the passed d-pawn. It was a tricky position, no doubt. It definitely required quite a bit of time there, and should have had 20+ minutes on my clock left for all of this.

The point of this is that I missed a mate in 2 and lost, and I think Alex did in his game and lost to, to Katie. I told him that mate in 2 can be tough to find, and he didn’t agree, but I am guessing that’s what happened to him because he said that I would have found it, and he seemed depressed that he missed his.

I blew the endgame, which is rather obvious but I’ll spell it out. I should have played ..Bg4 to stop his passed pawn, and then I would have kept one more of my queenside pawns than in the game (I played the king over instead like a bone-head, under the pretext of “well, I wanted to move my king closer anyway.” This sort of thinking is the peril of blitzing.). To get a passed a-pawn, he then decided to sac the c-pawn in the post-mortem. But I advance my then c-pawn and “sac” it to win his d6 pawn. I let his king take my f7 pawn and defend his passed a-pawn with my king. Then when he marches his h and g pawns up, I exchange one of them with my h7 pawn and sac my bishop for the other pawn. His a-pawn is on the wrong color of his bishop, so it is a draw that way.

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2 thoughts on “Endgame again

  1. It was a one way attack in the beginning and you had to find the only moves, which is difficult. You described most of the missed opportunities for the both sides, I can add only that Houdini offers 48… h5, nicely sacrificing f7 pawn and blocking other two. This endgame is not easy, you have to have a sufficient time to play it. There is no shame in this loss, it’s a good experience.

  2. RollingPawns, thanks! 🙂

    I felt like this game was a good learning experience for me.

    The biggest problem with how this game went, result-wise, is that I over-respected him (his rating) during critical moments. I actually played the gutty moves quickly, such as when I play ..Bh3, and he plays g2, that is bad I thought, he should play Rf2, so I play ..Re8 after maybe a minute. And then he went attacking my d6 pawn and then Bc7 and I was thinking to myself “What an idiot.”, but when it came time to pick up the stake and stab him in the heart with it, I couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me, and hadn’t managed my clock well. I sort of scolded him a bit after the game for not defending and only attacking there. I felt he played the position irresponsibly, and actually I have lost some respect for his game afterward. But, he does blitz endgames quite well. He does calculate well too, but he was making some suspect moves and playing those moves a little too quickly and confidently, as if he didn’t have a strong chess sense, only a strong ability to calculate immediate dangers quickly.

    In fact, I feel that his chess sense is pretty weak in the middlegame. He is a stronger calculator than the others, hence his higher rating, but his “spidey-sense” is rather weak, IMHO. Just a really good calculator and he likes to blitz because he can calculate faster than someone like me. So he isn’t playing chess so much as purposefully, intentionally, exploiting that skills advantage that he can calculate more quickly.

    After the game, DuWayne (Rhett’s dad) 1900’s and really good player, pointed out that he should have played g4 before I could get in ..h5. But really, I had already flubbed it up with having my king stop his d6 pawn instead of the bishop. I sensed the bishop move was better ..Bg4, but was feeling greedy, which often happens in time-pressure.

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