I decided to play in Round 1 after all. I drove home even though work is close to the tournament, ate dinner, hung out with my housemate for about 3/4 an hour, and then wasn’t feeling tired so drove back to the tournament to play. I guess I figured out that waiting for a tournament is boring, debilitating and a waste of time.
This was the first time that I played against Alexa’s dad. Really nice guy and meticulous handwriting/scorekeeping.
This game is strange in that I basically saw everything, and felt that I didn’t need any more time (finished with 4:41 on the clock), but I didn’t look at the Ng5 variations concretely.
Before I played 6.Qa4+, I pretty much knew it was a mistake because 6…Nc6 would follow, but I played it anyway, and actually this was my longest move. I correctly knew that 6.Na3 was the right move, and I didn’t know that 5…Nb4 was possible at first or I would not have played 5.c4. Nevertheless, he spiced this game up with his mistakes on defense.
9.Be3, I spent second most amount of time, once again on a move I knew wasn’t best, superfluous, but the most practical move I could come up with. What I missed is that after 9.dxNc6 Nxc6, 10.Be3, e6 or e5, comes 11.c5! stopping the dreaded …Bb4+. You wouldn’t think White has a “time-out” for this move, but that’s the beauty of this position is that it looks so treacherous for White and yet White does have time to play such a move.
9…Nxd5?? So I knew or felt that the game was over at this point, not even ten moves in. “He who dares, wins!” I guess, as the old Latin/Roman saying goes. To be honest, the rest of the game is like window-dressing from here out.
I spent quite a bit of time looking at 14.Ng5! Qg4, 15.h3 Qh5, 16.g4 and even noticed that the Ng5 was covering h3 and that a discovery sac on e6 could discover win his queen on the 4th rank, but somehow dismissed it as hand-waving while weakening my kingside in front of his queen and without having enough pieces there. And yet, I did not bother to notice that g4 is a fork and he must play 16…Bxg, 17.hxg Qxg4+, 18.Kf1. Oh well, now I see that Fruit is having a murky time of it as well and finding all sorts of strange lines. Suffice it to say, the finish is sort of like a take-your-pick/choose-your-own-adventure story.
My idea was to play 17.Nbd4, but seeing as my time was beginning to dwindle decided to play it safe. My justification for this was a phantom-line of 17…Rad8, 18.NxNc6 RxR+, 19.QxRd1 QxBc4, winning a piece for Black. Fruit shows White is going to play 18.Bd3 here, a move which I had been looking at for a long time, but didn’t insert it here.
My other idea was to play 17.Na7+! which looked good and Fruit agrees, but I guess it’s one of those things where I backed down, floating closer toward the = sign because I figured that I didn’t want to take a chance on giving up anything positionally with that move (given my time-situation), but I should have just played it, was being too protective here.
17…Qc2! I was glad to see this. Here we go again, being so sadistic to ourselves that we want the sure thing even though it’s closer to equality for us than other sharper continuations.
As scary as I had made the middle-game look for him, and him wanting to try to seek some refuge with queens off the board, I did blitz out the endgame as if it were child’s-play.
The sadistic side of chess. We are so good at being hard on ourselves that we play more proficiently when we do so, instead of seeking the quicker win in earnest.
Another amusing note, getting almost too caught up in the blitzing, is that I analyzed the blunder 30.Bxb7 Bxa3, 37.Bxa6 before noticing “Oh yeah, it’s a blunder, 30…NxBb7.” It’s odd how many blunders are caused by trying to win a (or one more) pawn. Positional attacks focus on pieces moreso than pawns, but it’s that whole amateur-brain carryover that causes strong players to still get blinded by pawns.