The New Kid in Town

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.

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2 thoughts on “The New Kid in Town

  1. You didn’t have to play risky moves like Qxa2 and Bf6 was completely unnecessary, even such low rated guys know how to use such a weakness. I agree that the position is quiet, so what? You are able to win even an equal pawn or rook ending in this case, so just play on…

    I also didn’t play well tonight, lost with Black to 1800 rated guy, I beat him a month ago with White. He played Scotch gambit, I misplayed it and allowed him to sacrifice on f7 with getting a piece back – Nxf7 Ne5xf7, Bxf7+ Kxf7, Qh5+ and then queen takes bishop on c5. Then my position gradually deteriorated.

  2. The weird thing about that sac is that computers and theory doesn’t like it, but as Black you can feel as though you just got mugged and shot at. After QxBc5 Black plays …d6 and maybe ..g6 and ..Kg7 is even possible, but the gist of it is that White has sort of spent his attack. I’ve even lost online (naturally this is years ago, but still) where Black plays ..Ke8. Those were two cherry pieces that White just traded off, and now his queen is getting kicked with tempo.

    The other weird thing is that this attack is even possible in the mainline …Bc5 Scotch (this sort of tactic can happen in the French also), but almost no one stops to consider it. In any case, theory frowns on it yet it can have a hugely unsettling psychological value to it. You just have to remember that 1.e4 e5 is supposed to be a slugfest in the unconventional lines, and not really an opening where you should be thinking about getting your ducks in a row when it comes to castling, let alone at a proper moment, but rather about what you can dish back to White.

    It’s not a bad line to look at some Master games with just to get more a feeling of security. I’m not sure of the move order which led to it in your game.

    Yeah, I should be able to win an equal position by being more focused, and by my managing my clock well. Actually, I asked Isaac and he said he did the same thing in his loss to Justice as Black, where it was equal and he tried to create a winning chance by making a dubious move, fearing the draw more than the loss as well. Subconsciously this probably happens on a lot of moves, and it did in tonight’s game, but there I had a more willing accomplice.

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