Nervous Collapse

Round 4

I had 2 min 13 seconds at the end of the game, but wasn’t spending any time on those poor moves at the end, they were all instant moves. I had planned 32.Qe2, but he played the passive 31.h6 and I felt I needed to “take advantage” of this by playing an active move, even though I had decided not to play 32.Bb6, I forgot about 32.Qe2 all of a sudden, probably because it seemed more passive. After the game, I noticed after the natural 33.Qc2 that the knight is not even dropping. So I blundered this game away, and $20 clear second as well, just on nerves alone.

In other news, my buddy Alex got kicked out of his place and is staying with me as of last night, and I took today off. I wasn’t tired, just too much nervous exhaustion after staying up with him almost all night studying chess positions.

I should have blitzed out the win from this game, I was able to blitz wins in all lines instantly when we looked at it, but maybe between job, Wednesday’s game, no nap before this game, no vitamin B all day, just coffee during the game, too stressed out in some way, and it only takes being a little off to mess up one’s result. Plus, yes, I didn’t want to play because I was too happy after finding my rating point jump right before the game started. It’s tough to get all p*ss and vinegar again after finding out something positive like that. Too much extraneous stuff to digest right before the game.

My clock management is so poor that my game requires excellent nerves to compensate for this. I need to play quicker. I also need to play my opponent’s clock, even if my opponent only takes 25 min. to play the game. My opponent gave me the fast/poor play for gratis, without me forcing him into it. I benefitted from his quick play far more than it hurt me, but I should be forcing this more from opponents, not relying on them giving me fast/weak play. I should be trying to end games early, even if they go 90 moves, and save time as a rule for endgames, not this coffee-house stuff.


The End of the Line

Round 4

I needed a draw in the final round to win the tournament. I was nervous, not overly wanting to play, more just wanting to win, but my nerves calmed down when my opponent took 20 minutes after the start time to show up.

Here is the game. In true GM fashion we both blundered badly in turn. 20…cxd5? (..Nxd5) – he has time to play Ra1e1+, which I had thought about, but was too tight to calculate it out – and 21.RxNb6?? (a3) were both blunders. You can see which blunder was worse. I think it came down to nerves, and we both slipped up at the same time, just like in a worthy prize-fight.

It’s interesting to see how my rating has progressed in the last two years. Right before I started my job, I had my cat, my girlfriend, and my rating was 1870. Lost my cat, and worked as tier 1 tech/customer service, with lots of OT. My rating surprisingly only fell a little, and I know I was sick that Winter as usual from working in a call-center that time of year.

Then I start working in tech-support, lose girlfriend just before, and do amazing things every day to solve customer issues since day one, but my rating then dropped like a stone. Solving that many customers tech issues in one day can suck the life right out of you. But also, I start an hour earlier and have to come in two hours earlier at the beginning of the month (and at the end of last month).

About the game, I didn’t see the move 24.b4, which is virtually an instant win, but I should have at least play b3, for example, instead of trading pawns on the b-file. Trading pawns in time-pressure is usually a sure sign of weak play.

Even after the game, I thought at first maybe just 34.Ka1 at the end instead, but that also just drops my queen to stop checkmate and it took me a while of thinking over the game before I realized this. The problem is that after my silly last rook lift, which I felt was bad, but was worried about rook skewers going vertically (which is a fake threat). It goes to show that if you lack pawn and piece-cover, and are blitzing, there is too much to take in after each move, if you are defending and have given your opponent too much piece play.

Another factor to keep in mind that playing solid ideas takes more energy of a person than playing weak moves. So, playing well can lead to it’s own collapse if it’s hurried, and not practiced regularly. I won the other tournament, and even in this game played a lot of weak moves according to the computer. It’s only when I had to play strong moves that I really did so. I should acustom myself to playing strong moves more regularly.

A neat finish would have been 27.b3 (I knew that 27.Re1 was a “nothing” move when I made it), followed by 28.Na4 (which my buddy Alex liked in some lines after the game), then 29.Na4-b6 is effectively game over. This can’t be stopped because even 29.Nc5 hitting queen and b7 pawn, then 30.Nxb7 is now hitting the Ba5 as well as Rd8, should he have played it there to get out of the Nb6 fork. But in either case, his Ba6 has no retreat square after 30.Nxb7.

27.b3 Re8, 28.Na4 Qc6, 29.Qf2 f6, 30.Bb6 BxB, 30.RxB Qc8, 31.Rxf! gxR, 32.Qxf6+ Kg8, 33.Ne7+ RxN, 34.QxR threatening 35.Qxe5+, so 34…Qe8, 35.Qg5 with Rf1 next, and White even has Qf5 if necessary, as in Qxe5+ followed by Qf5 and Rf1 to trade Black’s remaining pieces.


Sometimes it feels this way to have a game so nailed down.

Thursday Round 3

The key to this game was 5 hours of sleep the night before, plus a 1 hour nap before the game.

During the game, I was hoping he wouldn’t play 19.Qf1, when all I could find was a winning endgame. Fruit likes 19.Qa4, but I would have been quite pleased to see that move at the board. On 19.g3, I was going to play simply …Ne4xg3, which lets one know how great of an idea it is to use one’s tempos to push their pawns in front of their king.

After the game, I showed Dean that I had seen after 19.h3 (a move I hadn’t even bothered to consider for White), …Bxh 20.NxNe4 exNe4, 21.Rd4 (or Rd7) Qe3+, as played in the game, that I was looking at the finish 22.Kh7 exNf3, 23. Rd3 Qf5+, 24.KxB Rf6 followed by …Rh6 mate.

In the opening, I thought that his pawn sac was okay (Fruit doesn’t like it), but that he needed to keep the threat of Bf4 (skewering Qd4 and c7) alive – or at least get a Bd4 in – but that Rf1-e1, which Fruit likes the idea of a lot more than I do, squashed that possibility.


Round 3, Wednesdays April 2013

I played unprepared, except I knew it would be a Scandinavian opening, and like I tell everybody, James (and DuWayne) are my most difficult opponents to get an advantage against (although Imre is a close 3rd.

Fruit really despises this opening for Black and is giving me major points, but for a human it’s exactly the sort of opening where it’s difficult to tell what exactly is going on. I see a lot, but then there is a lot to evaluate.

I am getting low on clock and energy when James thrown in a zinger 13..Bc5?!! What now? It will take yet more time and energy to figure this out. Here I lost my nerve, and the nervous tension and exhaustion caused by all the time I’ve spent and position on the board has gotten to me. I miss the 15.Qxd4+ completely, and in fact I almost walked into 16.Kf1 Qg1 mate.

After I play 18.Nd6? I am kicking myself for not doubling the rooks, and see his 18…Nc5 coming.

Then, a miracle occurs, he doesn’t play 19…Rad8 (-1.5 -+), but instead makes the rookie move of 19…NxB, and I realize then that I should be able to draw this thing just due to practical chances.

I almost offer a draw after 27.Ra7, but then realize I don’t want to insult him, hate getting rejected by refused offers because it usually scr*ws up my concentration afterward, he can reject it by playing what he did or by forcing a repetition, and he has close to an hour vs my 8 minutes. After the game he said I should have offered it, but juding by the result I was right to not offer one and HE should have been the one to offer on (or force perpetual)!

He played all the way ’til mate, even though I finished with 40 seconds on my clock.

I was so glad to win this game, since this is the “money” tournament, unlike Thursday where I perpetually have zilch shot at one.

Swotting Variations

Round 2, April Thurdays

I felt embarrassed for myself after the game that I had missed the Qf7+ part of my combination. Granted I had only slept an hour and half the night before (a lot of that was due to preparing an opening line to play, and that part of that worked), and then half an hour nap before the game.

I had calculated (and so had he) that 12.Qf3+ Ke8, 13.Qh5+ is a draw because then I get into f7, Qxg7, QxRh8 if he lets me, so I had rightly seen …Nf6 coming, which he would have played. But then after making my move, I could not calculate the Kh7 retreat correctly. My intuition was working, but not my calculating skills. BTW, I was feeling very unfresh/unsharp, which is different than being tired. It’s chess fatigue, I guess, and my opponent was obviously very fresh.

I looked at 12.Qf3+ Kg6, 13.Bd3+ g6, 14.hxg+? (Bxg) Kg7, 15.Bc2?? Be8 (covering the light diagonal). I forgot about the queen being on f3 during this part of the calculation, so overlooked the instant Qf7 mate threat after taking on g6, just completely forgot about her. I had it in my mind that I wanted the h-file opened and Qh5 rook and queen battery. IOW, I was thinking general concepts instead of calculating out the concrete position/moves. This is why I played 12.h6??

At the end of the game, I missed Qf3 instead of Qe2 (I saw his Nxd4 sac coming) but was in time-pressure at this point.

I felt that 23.Qe3 was a blunder and my instinct was to take it to remove the bishop from defending f8, but I missed the easy tactical continuation 23…BxQ, 24.fxg7 Rh7, 25.Rf8+ Ke7, 26.RxRa8 Rxg7! and the point of Black’s position is that he was 3 pawns for the exchange, and has the bishop pair, so is still technically winning.

Of course, the main reason I missed the tactic above was that I was “sitting on” a different tactic, before he had played ..Bc5, of fxe followed by RxBf8 KxR, Qf1+ Ke8, Qf7+ Kd8, Qd7 mate – which is a lof of “ifs”.

I had seen his Bb5 pin winning exchange before, but forgot about it when I suddenly “woke up to the position” and realized that I was 3 pawns down.

I don’t know if that last pin happened, but I didn’t record the moves in the time-scramble – it went on but you can see it’s pointless from here, and I lost the exchange somehow.

I also want to add one last thing, it’s that you have to have confidence in yourself when you make a sac like this (because you may not see everything in advance and probably won’t, there is intuition involved) even if you aren’t feeling particularly confident about your abilities and decisions OTB. Three people briefly looked at this position after I sacked the piece and then turned away after not spending too much time on it, and I got that vibe that they were thinking “Idiot dropped a piece.” So, I began thinking this myself and feeling very unconfident about the sac and then was having trouble calculating it, perhaps already feeling a bit mortified in advance. Remember these words if you make a sac someday because these are the sorts of feeling to overcome to make and play such a sac well.

I also let myself feel unnerved after seeing that the first variation, the short one, doesn’t work out after Qf3+…Kg6, Bd3+?? (h6) cxB, QxB+ Kf7

I felt so out of it afterward that I once again vowed to stop playing on Thursdays, but I will keep playing. I went home after eating dinner with Alex at his house and went straight to bed and felt better after the five hours of sleep. 😀

Calculating Complications

Round 2

I was tired coming into this game, but the B-multivitamin must have helped, and in the end he was more tired than I. I suppose this means that I will be even more tired tomorrow though, drank plenty of coffee today.

I guess that his 6.h3 move was just too slow. This makes me like the Slav more, knowing that a false step can cost White – I really wasn’t aware of this previously. I felt that with h3 and a4, it’s as if White were playing two separate systems – Fruit seems to agree, but as a computer it could not find a solution for White, although I think White is probably still okay, but at least it is perhaps already even.

I thought my 16…Qc7 was lame, and Fruit likes 16…b4 big-time.

19…Nd5? was based on a mis-calculation. I spent a lot of time on it, the 20.Rxb line to be exact, which is White’s correct line. Well, at least I was looking at the right line but too tired to calculate straight because I missed Rc5 at the end of that line.

If I don’t play ..b4, then next best move is actually to play BxRg2, BxBg2 and let White play BxRa8, when I am up the pawn with the superior position and better minor piece.

We both got sloppy at times. At the end, I wanted to play 26…Rxd4, 27.cxd4 BxNd2, 28.KxB Qxd4+ which may seem arrogant, but Fruit says it was actually the best continuation (after I showed it to Fruit, hehe).

When Toth Strikes!

Okay so that just _sounded_ cool. Actually, I am playing against a new opponent, an older Hungarian gentleman. His last name, if memory serves, is pronouned like “tote” except that it is treated as two syllables, and you have to exhale after pronouncing the second one.

Round 1

Well, he made a grind out of it, I’ll say. Sometimes those games that just don’t go away can be the most nerve-wracking. I sort of used my “chess IQ” to pull this one out.