New opponent, will annotate later.
Me, Alex, and Rhett co-won the tournament with 3.5/4. 🙂 Rhett made 2000 even, Alex made 1801, and I got my rating back up to 1833.
In the game, I spent too much time on the 10…Bd7 sham-sac, which he declined and the position transposed anyway. I have always disliked this variation as Black and I had to feel my way through it to gain the confidence – this is something that a blitz game in this opening will not give you.
White didn’t find a way to continue the attack (I would have come up with sharper stuff as White), and so it was up to Black to break through.
I have not done any engine analysis of this game, but I feel the way to get to Expert is actually to shut the engines off and figure it out for yourself. You need to be that strong on your own, that’s the only way anyone makes it to Master, otherwise one could follow an openings book to Master or etc.
22.Nf3. To be a solid class A player one can’t sort of “wimp out” like this. 22.f4 was the move I was afraid to see, solidifying the center, then he can get back to his Nd2 with ..a5 business.
25.Nd2 Now it is too late for the …a5 idea because the bishop’s diagonal will be opening up.
28.Nd2 He continues to “return to the scene of the crime”. Why not grab the d-file with a rook or get some h3 luft in here. He is probably stuck on the …a5 idea, but it’s stronger as a chessplayer to be flexible. I would simply take on a5, then give up the c5 pawn for the b7 pawn after trades.
29.Rcd8 I played this move with misgivings. This was the last opportunity to play 29…Bxb2, which I almost played. After 30 RxBb2 c3 30. Rc2 (or Ra2) cxNd2 this should be winning for Black here with back-rank ..Rc1 type threats or promote on d1. After last night I decided to win this game “Botvinnik-style” instead of “Tal-style”, but really the slow positional way takes more time to flesh-out, unless your opponent cracks and blunders seeking undue activity, which is what happened in this game.
32.e4?? This is the loser in a lost position, but it stunned me because I had thought it not possible. In fact, I thought I had determined that this drops the Nd7 but in time-pressure couldn’t remember why! (…Bg5 wins). I played 32…Rd4? as a “clock-move” being down to 59 seconds on my clock, and then slapped my face, walked away from the board to curse my stupidity. Not only had I forgotten …Bg5 in response, but I had dropped a pawn as well. Like I say, the unrefuted move becomes the “good move” – I noticed this back as a 1500 player, and I’ve never heard anyone else notice this or write about this other than myself, so it’s probably just assumed at a Master level, but ough to be explicitly pointed out at the class level.
After 33.Qxf4, luckily I have an only-move which may still be winning in …Bg5, but I knew that 34.f4 was probably losing, and not the way for White to play. After the game, I insisted he must have a better move here, and he found 24.Nf6! which threatens to create perpetual chances or win back the exchange when White is a pawn up. Idea is to play Nf3-e5 next, hitting the Qd6 and coming further into Black’s king position. I don’t know how realistic his drawing chances were, but combined with his 4 minutes to my 1, his chances would have been a lot better that way.