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.