The Rematch

For some strange reason, I was bottom of the top-half and Alex was top of the bottom-half of the pairings, and so we got paired tonight.

Round 1

This game, once again, shows how I just can’t seem to finish as Black in the G/90 format.

A couple of points in the game require explanation. When I played 21.Qd5?? I was going to play …Kf8, and then move the queen, but sort of like last week’s loss, I forgot why I needed to play the first move of the sequence, and it’s largely due to the time-pressure. I simply make bone-headed mistakes like this in time-pressure, and for some reason I never see the time-pressure coming until it has arrived.

The end of the game also requires explanation. I had 1:43 remaining on my clock when he played 32.Ne5?? and so I immediately played …Bf5+ and offered him a draw, which he immediately accepted. I recall him having 30 minutes left on his clock.

In the post-game, we looked at the continuation 33.Kh3 BxNe5, 34.Qxe6 forking the Ba6 and the Be5, but for some reason we both missed what Fruit found 34…Bd6 protecting both bishops, which is -1.3 in Black’s favor. The best continuation that we could see was 34…Bf1, 35.QxBe5 Rd2, putting all of White’s pawns on the 7th rank in jeopardy, where we both thought it was looking drawish still, but Fruit cooly says that this is +2.4 for White.

I don’t know why I have such a problem with G/90 and yet I very much do. This was in improvement, though, over my previous draws, so I did manage to get some of the hesitation out of the way if not nearly enough of it.

It’s difficult to pull off a clean win at G/90 unless it is a miniature because the clock dictates that you make some “filler” moves at some point.

In my case, this is what I failed to do, I failed to think schematically in some positions, which is just as much a requirement as thinking concretely, if not more so. The concrete approach is not flexible and is an exorbitant expenditure on the clock when a flexible plan will suffice. Some positions, one has to “common sense” them and not look for some heavy-handed all at once continuation, but rather a more gradual one that involves patience in maneuvering.

In some positions my “spidey-sense is tingling”, calling for a refutation for one side or the other, but this is not the case on most moves, so I can’t act on the clock as if this every move. Most moves you play something positional and then just “see how your opponent reacts” (as the kid in the Chess Kids video trailer says), particularly in positions where there isn’t much sharpness for your opponent to spring on you.

The problem with most books I’ve found is that they don’t teach you, or virtually never teach you, how to make “nothing” moves. How to sit on a position and make it more solid without hurting it, without seeking to beat your opponent when your opponent is not making mistakes. At best, these moves seem to go uncommented in books. Authors love to show you how to win, but basically never show you to sit on a position and bide your time skilfully.

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6 thoughts on “The Rematch

  1. You exchanged mistakes with your opponent, so a draw looks like a fair result.
    I like your position in the end more, but 1:43 is not a lot of time.
    I think it was your post, where you mentioned “Is it a blunder?” question, that we should ask ourselves before a move. 🙂

  2. Great call, RollingPawns! 🙂

    I need to ask myself “Am I over-optimizing?” because I’ve made this same mistake against him in back to back games. It’s a non-chess thing, hence the reason the blunder is so dramatic and so obvious; It’s like trying to cut coupons while Rome burns.

    Actually, my favorite blunder-check is to ask “How is he checkmating me in this position?” before making a move. That way, your checkmate isn’t to checkmate him, it’s to stop him from checkmating you by checkmating him. Then you’ll do it right and do it for purely defensive reasons. haha. I was still caught up in my follow-up attack and not in his check on my king.

  3. You may want to look at master games in your opening repertoire, with an emphasis on middlegame play. Not so much to analyze them thoroughly (you can but it takes time), but simply to become familiar with typical middlegame patterns. If the game has some annotations, even better, but if he hasn’t you can simply browse through and have a look with an engine at a couple of intriguing points. Might take from 15′ to 45′ per game, if you use a real board.

    Alternatively, you can select ‘master vs. amateur’ games – ie. players rated >2400 vs. players rated <2200 to see how the stronger player makes use of his assets in the middlegame.

    Maybe you should also play a bit faster in the opening : how much tme to get to the position after 15…cxd4 ? 15-20' looks reasonable – 30' is okay if you thought over …h6 for example. If you took much more, than you definitely need to go over more games (or practice more in quick games).

  4. Well, Laurent, the thing is that G/90 is not a comfortable time control. It seems like it is for a while, but really it requires 30/60, G/30 style play. Two minutes, and opponents will frequently spend all of their time on three moves (in places you don’t find that interesting), and make the rest of the moves instantly. So it really is 2 minutes a move for 30 moves, close to literally, and this is where I get in trouble.

    I was thinking typical time-trouble thought (okay, I’ve analyzed and instead of playing the move that I could never be 100% sure about, let me play the most forcing move instead, which turns out not to be one at all – this is typical for time-pressure thinking, has been since I was 1300).

  5. Here is a game-manager’s game that I just blitzed out:
    http://www.ficsgames.org/cgi-bin/show.cgi?ID=351993021

    I play 33…Bf7?, which I believe should lose, instead of 33…Bc2!, which I believe gives Black an advantage, but of course he flagged while I had 55 seconds remaining on my clock?

    So, the big question, what is the difference between this and OTB? Most likely, the truest explanation is that I simply don’t have a rating to defend at blitz, so I am free to explore and play with abandon, whereas OTB I am most frequently trying to “protect my rating” against weaker players so that I can at least get a chance to play players closer to my level. This is a “loser’s scenario” by any statistical measure, and it has eroded at my OTB style, play and strength.

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