I felt pressure during this game as people were coming up occasionally to check on this top-board, even though we were in a booth far from the others, as if they were just expecting me to win easily else it would be comical. We were both 2-0 as Justice had beaten Isaac who was just below Expert and also Alex.
Well, I definitely felt the pressure to either win or draw such a lower-rated player, which helps to explain my blunders.
I wanted to play moves such as 17…c5 and even …f6 over the next few moves as Fruit suggests, but I also felt like I had to “do something” against a very lower-rated player, even as Black. Thinking about it now, a draw would have been great because I would have White in the final round, and Justice would probably lose as Black against Paul Anderson. But of course I felt that ratings pressure, to not draw and lose rating points.
I knew that Qxa7 was bad after I played it because of Bc3, and he did play it, and then I was in trouble, seeing that Qb6, tripling on the a-file could be possible. I was going to play …f6, but basically panicked and played the trickier looking …Bf6, removing another piece off the board, and giving him something concrete to “distract him”.
Well, that quickly fell apart, and I would have blitzed …Qg6 instead of …h6, but once again I made the gross mistake of thinking I could save an ending two pawns down, which is so delusional because with my bad pawn structure it’s actually winning for White in an even king and pawn ending, that is how bad it is. He actually had a better idea of how to play the ending in any case even after …Qg6. His coach is Paul Covingt*on, whose floor was 1900 once (he had the USCF remove his floor by request), and Paul is actually an excellent endgame teacher.
Welp, this exactly what can happen when one puts rating points over tournament standing. I cracked under the pressure of the false-idol named rating points. Of course, I should have calmly defended and simply try and make best moves.
One thing to note is that this is what can happen when you play a teenager that mostly studies, and studies with an ex-Expert. So, they skip just about every other tournament and only play in one tournament at that, but they study with Paul C on Friday nights. and even after the game Paul sat down and asked me what Justice could improve on. Well, I probably should have suggested that his student play in the World Open before his rating becomes too high.
Time-controls can have strange effects on people’s games. A lot of players suffer through their middlegames and play some polished or superb endgames. Reduced time has the opposite effect on me; I can play a decent opening, but an equal middlegame or endgame, it’s like I don’t know how to play endgames anymore, so I try not to even attempt them. This is probably what happened to all of those “seven circles” guys, they ran into endgames.
Magnus’ recent interview was so telling. He said how Capablanca won endgames because his middlegame was strong and subtle (he said that Fischer had pointed this out). Magnus says he doesn’t go for openings advantages because most players rarely get them. This is my problem is that I’ve been so used to getting openings advantages, that I can no longer play well in the vast majority of equal positions.
I think I should play more quickly and let the clock and number of moves do some of the heavy-lifting for me. And if I draw then that just means that I suck at the endgame, which I do. I don’t like when people tell me I am a good a endgame player (many local players tell me this) because if I am not and draw some D player, then I feel like everyone will look down on me, when it may actually be a huge achievement for me. A game of chess should be just as legitimate a learning experience for me as it is for the D level players that I face. I remember being a lot better at endgames when there were dual time-controls.
After the game, I though I should have played the endgame with …c5, …f6, and …h6 and the computer agrees, once I trade off queens and pair of rooks. It’s a grueling defense for Black, but I was quite amazed when all of Black’s pawns were on dark squares. It was a draw the whole way, but Black even had winning chances should White go wrong (both sides had this) – like Magnus said the computers have shown use that the rules we thought existed no longer exist in some positions. So clearly I have to focus my ability and time on playing equal endings.