I was somewhat tired going into this game from the online blitz games that I had played the last couple of days – for some reason, study doesn’t burn me out anywhere near as much as playing does. In fact, blitz burns me out a lot more than relatively leisurely-paced slower games do.
I decided to throw caution to the wind and play the Open Sicilian against Paul, which is an opening I’ve always lost to against him. Paul says after a few moves “This is the same opening we played last time.” I corrected him, but was thinking “He doesn’t remember the three Alapin Sicilian games I played against him, where I won all three? Hmm, perhaps I could have gotten in a fourth win with that as well.” Instead, we have the reverse where I am going for the third or fourth loss against Paul’s Taimanov Sicilian. I get my chances in these games, but the key is to get Paul to make the crazy move first, and not to step in it yourself.
I thought that I was better after 13…e5, which explains why I went for this faulty combination starting with 14.Bg5 instead of 14.Bg3. After he played 14…e4, I was simply “playing my analysis” when I blundered with 15.Bxe4??, immediately seeing my mistake as soon as he recaptured, that I had forgot about his Bb6 defender of d8. Nevertheless, Fruit finds an advantage for Black after 13…e5, which means that I had a false appraisal of this position.
My only consolation is that I had blundered with 39 minutes on my clock (to his 1 hour and 17 minutes), and still had an attack going. Unfortunately, I was once again too optimistic and went for another bad tactical decision. Instead of being half a pawn down, according to Fruit, after 21.Nxb7, I decided to keep wratcheting up the tactics with 21.Ne6?
When he played the rather obvious 22..Bxf2!, it felt like a bit of a bolt from the blue, which tells you how poor my form was. After I played 23.Rd1, I was kicking myself that I should have played 23.Rd4 as planned, even though Bf2 covers h4, because I have g3 to block it, or even Rg4; but this is all pure fantasy as White is lost after a …Qd5 queen trade offer. It took Fruit to knock some sense in to me. Not to mention that Black is getting in his back-rank attack first.
I didn’t want to win that third pawn (Nxb7) for the piece because the queens are still on the board and this opens a file to my king, but in reality this is just a lot of hand-waving and nowhere near a concrete appraisal of the position, for it is Black who must force the queen trade to stay afloat! I thought that Black had …Qc7 after Nxb7, but that would just lose the Be7, so I completely missed this relatively easy tactic to spot.
I rejected 23.Bxe7 Nxe7, 24.QxN BxRe1, 25.QxB because of inferior endgame and time, and that I would be playing into the point of 22…Bxe2. I didn’t even look beyond that to notice that 25..Qg5+, 26…Qxg2 and Black is up 2.5 points according to Fruit.
Also, I should have played 24.Re7 to trade queens and win his b7 pawn once again. I spent a long time considering this, but perhaps all of this consideration is what was making me even more tired, low on the clock, and not wanting to get into the simple endgame where Black is -+ and having all of the time and energy.
When I played 33.Qxg6?? I had only 3 seconds on my clock, and it was obviously hopeless. I even laughed about it as I was making my move and then promptly resigned. Beaten on the board and the clock, and in the evaluation department, and perhaps even before I showed up since when Paul asked “Are you ready for battle?” before the game, I responded “No, I am tired.” Tough day at the office, yet still a great learning experience.