The losing move turns out to be 18.RxNa5??, and actually it’s a losing idea rather than simply a losing “move”. For example, if 20.c4?? (what could appear more natural?), then 20..Bxd4, 21.exB Qxd4+, 22.Kh1 QxRa7.
18.Nb5!! gives White a tiny edge, almost equal, but against Alex I would then be favored in an equal endgame. For example 18..axNb5, 19.RxNa5 and Black could now easily go wrong in this endgame. 19..b6 is Fruit’s move, and then 20.Rxa7 gives White’s position with still a bit of bite left to it. The big idea with 18.Nb5 in terms of stopping counterplay is that Black no longer has support for playing …Nd5.
In my last two games, my will to win hasn’t been there, I am simply playing for fun and not stressing over the game, but in hindsight this was probably the best game of many over the last few months, lots to analyze and too much for a G/90 to do it any justice. Anyway, Alex spent roughly 15 minutes on the game according to his own estimate, so that didn’t help either.
Alex’s 11..Qb4 was a blunder (although strong enough if Black had castled first), and 12.Bd2 was the correct response. This was my feeling as well, but it appeared to be too much to analyze for all the time I had spent already. Also, I could have played a nice 14.c3, 15.Rd2 idea which I didn’t notice, but it’s not winning, just +=.
During the game, the move 18.Nb5 did leap out at me, in order to prevent an upcoming ..Nd5 move on his part, but then I forgot all about it in my time pressure, simply looking for which move would give me the best attacking chance and forgetting how critical that it would still be to defend against an invasion in the center.
I corrected the game score at the end because he did not impatiently play a Nd5 as soon as I was hoping. I noticed right away tonight that I should have played 26.c4 to give him an isolated queenside pawn. I am down two pawns, but with time and care I know that this is the sort of ending where I probably draw against Alex, even though I am two pawns down. So this was yet another missed opportunity. Alex took advantage of my defensiveness to regroup with defensive moves himself, when it was I who had to keep up the attack and not wait for eventualities. I was stuck on this Be4 idea rather than play the correct c4.
A lot of G/90 players don’t see much of endgames or it’s just not the right time format to win technical endgames for them, so I need to be thinking about drawing two pawns down, not about resigning a lost position.
I think that I’ve been spending too much of my clock time thinking about how to win rather than being tougher to beat. I win and lose too much, but somewhere inside am thinking that a draw is the worst result. In a way, a draw is the most disgusting result to me, but I have to accept that many more games should be ending this way, and a lot of it due to endgame abilities.