It wasn’t this Round 3 game didn’t go well for me, it’s more that I felt my opponent sort of slew-footed me.
I can’t recall having a headache before during a chess-game, but my brain was feeling like it wanted to “tap-out” once I had achieved a visibly winning position, and It was obvious to anyone watching me as I kept pressing my eyes and keeping them shut, etc. But still, I was really okay, just wanted to get the game over with by this point.
So I leave the table for the second time, the restroom is closed so come back right away and already nearly 2 minutes is gone from my clock, so I know that he must have made the pawn-sac move as soon as I had gotten up. At this point, I didn’t want to analyze anymore, and didn’t in fact, just thought I had a mating net, so recaptured on f1 with the queen, only to then notice that his queen gets back in time, and I don’t have time to skewer his queen with my rook because his rook is chasing my queen all around and thus wins my d6 pawn anyway. So, QxR, which went from +1.5 White to -1.5 White in one move, was an attempt by me, with 12 minutes remaining, and just not having as much in tank left as him for time-pressure, to blitz out a win.
His pawn-sac was the perfect psychological/physiological ploy for the position, and it really took me by surprise, and in fact so did the post-mortem. I was feeling mentally groggy by 8:30 pm, and it was taking me too long to find the moves, even considering that I had 12 minutes remaining. He was absolutely immediately going to sac his Bd6 for the pawn, and then activate all of his pieces to pin me down tactically.
I went over this with Fruit and Black can even get a ..Qf5 move in, taking one of my bishops, but if I know to save the ..Bg4-f3 bishop, then I am winning because of Qxd5 Nc6, Qg8+ kany, QxRh7 for instance. It was going to be that type of situation. My Rb1 is having big troubles developing, as is my queen which is overloaded protecting both the Bg4 and Rb1 (back-rank skewer as well as against a Black queen on that diagonal).
It was weird how he blitzed out the post-mortem moves instantly, I did not see that coming. I play Bg4 forking Kc8 and a Bh3, but he instantly moves his king and wins my other bishop pinned on the f-file in front of my king after a ..g5 pawn push. I probably would have been up a piece, winning, with hypothetically 2 minutes on my clock and needing to extricate my position, whereas one false move and I would lose on time, and he was playing for this specifically.
When he sacked the pawn, he had thought that his ..Rh7 was on the h8 square, so that it could swing over to the f-file immediately if needed. So he said that he knew that he had blundered because of that. What I didn’t see coming is how well that he could blitz out all of those moves before I even had time to adjust to or see what was going on in the position.
It was a great learning experience, but once again I felt all along that this was a classic win for me at 30/90, G/30 because I can simply find all the safe moves, which I am unbelievably good at when I know that I have a safe-harbor at move 30 (I’ve won games before making 20 moves to get to move 40 in under 3 minutes). When I don’t have that goal, I am suddenly factoring my energy-level into the game, knowing that I need to keep more time because there is no safe-harbor time-control. It screws with my game, but I have the satisfaction of both knowing that I would be playing this game quite well at a slow-tournament, and getting to see another players’ plan for how they plan to try to take advantage of both me and my position to find their win.
Now I remember what happened in this game. I thought that ..Qd8 was not possible because my Bg5 was covering that square and thus was mating the Black king, or equivalent. What I deliberately decided to do was to not bother calculating this sequence out and just blitz out the moves. Of course, his rook is taking my Bg5 first. If I had an extra tempo here, or even later, I am winning, but this is what happens when a player decides not to calculate, they can’t see who is getting their stuff in first! Really, I was mentally tired though, it’s not like me at all to not want to calculate and to simply rip off moves like that.
The part that I didn’t understand in the post-mortem was that White too can sac pieces because after Qxd5, Black has back-rank issues, and to play ..a6 would be to allow White’s rook to swing out with the corresponding tempo. Also, the queen has enormous power to keep Black’s pieces “honest” and at home defending their king, just as he had planned to do to my king. This has been my most outstanding chess weakness, not having a feel for the queen, particularly in opposite-attacking situations.