I played two games this week, once was against the legendary Chess Master Brian Wall, and the other one was against my buddy Alex tonight.
Because Alex is my buddy, I didn’t want to see either of screwing up this nice Round 3 Game – Alex because one move loses and the other move draws, and me because I had only 6 minutes even to Alex’s 58 minutes at games’ end.
Me and Alex have a saying that whenever you are offering a draw to a friend, you are saying “Permission to beat you, sir!” and if they decline the draw that means “Permission granted!!” because it is most often the case these days with us that the draw decliner then loses.
Well, Alex accepted my draw offer. I pointed out that 24.Qf3 just loses to …Bf6, 25.Ra3 Bb2. However, I was worried about 24.Qg4 and offered the draw in his moment of confusion. He felt that 24.Qg4 was correct, he guessed a moment before I showed him that Bf3 loses, but he was very close to playing 24.Qf3 he said, and I’m thinking it’s because he was trying so hard to avoid the queen trade, particularly in my time-pressure. I think he was thinking Qf3 at the moment I offered the draw, but was in his right mind to accept it in any case.
Post-mortem, I was worried about 24.Qg4 Bf5 25.Qd4?, when a trade of queens would block the file and I couldn’t play Rd8 and recapturing the queen with the bishop was lame. I got home and it hit me that 25…Qe6, just stepping out of the way, and then White’s best is 26.Qxa7 (I was worried about this at the time), but then 26…Bf6 is once again lights-out – 27.RxNc1 RxR is the exchange for a pawn, but losing for White.
Then I started to see variations with 25.Qd4? Qe6, 26.Bg4, but then could see that the cold-hearted 26…Bf6 still comes through after 27.BxBf5 QxBf5, and the Qd4 is still skewered to the undefended Ra1, which is losing.
Then I looked at 25.Qf4! which allows an immediate ..Bf6 reply, so it is one tempo behind, but the gist of these variations is to step out of pins, 26.Bg4! and now I thought that this wouldn’t work because after ..BxRa1, 27.QxBf5 Black’s queen moves out of the way and is up an exchange.
At first I thought that 27.BxBf5 would fail to Ne2+, 28.Kh1 Qc6 (Queen is stepping out of the way), but now did not consider that White’s queen can also now step out of the way with 29.Qg4 which attacks the Ne2 as well as pressures the Rc8. Now 30.Ne2-c3 BxNc3 (double-attacks the Ba5 and Nd2, which I had seen this winning trick for Black in another variation). Here, however, White has 30. Ba5xBc3 (forced in all these variations) …QxBc3 and now White has Bg4xRc8 and material is even! =+/-+ about -.75.
But still, Why was 28…Qc6 necessary? We want to recapture on c3 with the Rc8 so as to not lose the exchange. I can see one other square for Black’s queen, namely, 28…Qd5, but now 29.Qg5! threatening 30.Bxh7! winning the queen, so 29…g6 30.e4! Queen moves …Qc6 (back to this square again, blocking the ..Rc8 from defending the c3 square) is equal, because if 30…Qd6??, then 31.Bg4xRc8 RfxBc8, 32.Qg4 once again double attacking the now hanging rook on c8 and Ne2, thus winning a piece, White is a whole piece up.
I’ve learned why from this game that the Slav was Shirov’s weapon of choice as the Slav is “Planet Shirov” and is best not to be navigated in time-pressure.
Here is my Wednesday Round 3. It is rather embarassing. At the end I had chances to push my d-pawn for a draw, and told him that I would have against any other (weaker) player him, but was of course feeling psyched out by a Master who was pretty much toying with me with that Bxh7 sac. It was a load of fun though. BTW, his current rating is 2296, almost 2300!
After 14.Rb1, I realized that he was not going to castle queenside, so lost control, chomping at the bit to get to his king. Correct is 14…0-0-0 with a d5 idea. Instead, I just couldn’t wait and immediately regretted playing 14…e5, even though I saw 15.f5 coming. He joked after the game saying that “He didn’t even know that …e5 was a legal move” (that’s how bad, but okay it’s not losing).
I think I am winning when he shocks me with 23.Ng5!! Here, I really didn’t have the experience to know how to handle this move as 23…Bxg5?? is easily losing. Black will gain two pieces for the rook, but after Rxh7 it’s lights-out for Black. Best is perhaps 23…RxN as everything gets traded of but his bishop and my knight. I looked at this but he was totally in my head as I thought he must have done it because it’s winning (which was my reaction to just about everything he played. haha)
It might be that Black is even winning after 31…Nd4, but it’s hard not to overlook a check which wins a pawn in time-pressure.
Starting at move 41, I could probably push that …d5 pawn for about 10 moves and draw, and I kept looking for the best time to play it, so that I was totally psyched out and lost for no real reason. Even as his king chased my pawn up the board I realized how ridiculous it would be and was because I was only improving his king. That is like psycho-time-pressure with 3 seconds remaining.
It was a great learning experience, quite fun, and not a disappointment at all.