Crumbling in Time-Pressure

In Round 5, I was playing Daniel, whose rating can fluctuate a hundred points within the same month.

Before the game, I was tired but Daniel’s cheeks looked like chipmunks as he had just had his wisdom-teeth taking out, which is probably the only thing that saved me if that is what made him blitz me in my time-pressure.

Crazy game. I saw that my …Ng5 move was dropping the h6 pawn, but then there were so many different variations I was looking at, and I saw a defense for him in every one of them (but he wasn’t as positive about them after the game until I showed him some of his defensive resources – it just means he has to be flexible and can’t blindly follow one plan against all tries). I digress, so I forgot about dropping the h6 pawn and should have played …Kh7 first, as my clock was telling me to draw the game instead of going for a win.

It took me forever to recreate the game as well as I did. I copied some of Daniel’s scoresheet and, while it is legible, didn’t help too much as quite a bit was omitted somehow or written down incorrectly. It’s my fault, and because of the 5 second delay that the moves weren’t written down. On move 45, for example, my king is on h7, so Rh6+ is not possible. I finished the game with 15 seconds on my clock. My new rating is 1807.

I want to say that it takes more intensity to play against higher-rated players, but realistically it takes more discipline.

Just when I want to quite G/90 chess, I take another look at the game to see if I could have made any incremental moves there like …Kg8-f7-e7, and instead thought I finally saw the win. During the game, I wanted to play 24…Nh5 so hard that I almost wanted to sac my piece on that square, but of course I knew that would just lose. Here is the thing that took too long to catch me eye 24…Bd8!? covering the h5 square at last. Now if 25.Nf3 Nh5, 26.Nh4 Nxg3, 27.NxQ? NxQ, 28.BxN Rxg6+ is winning a pawn for Black, but the hunt for intermezzos quickly turns up 27.Qe1! (27…Qg4, 28.QxN) winning the knight.

I just had one of those Carlsen moments where I was still thinking about the game in my mind’s eye, and come back to realize that 28.QxN?? is losing to 28…Qh5 discovered skewer on White’s queen where 29.Nxf5 would lose to …RxQ+, 30.KxQ QxRh3+, 31.KxQ exNf5. But instead 28.RxNg3 QxNh4??, 29.RxRg7+ KxRg7, 30.Qe1xQh4. It’s like your brain needs to have the efficiency of a computer, OTB. hehe.

So the incremental 24…Kf7! looks very strong after all as I would like to see 25.Kh1, and then the h pawn can be used as a lever, but more importantly the sacs on f4 begin to work because the Rg1 is so weak. If 25.Nf3 Rfg8, 26.Ne5?? BxN, 27.dxN Nh5 wins because the knight is immune due to the weak g3 square, for example 28.QxNh5 QxQ, 29.RxQ Rxg3+. 30.Kf2 RxRg1, 31.Rh7+ Rg7 -++.

It’s nice that I can see these things without a computer, but it does take time, energy, and mental clarity to pick out the win from a particular position. I probably had more of these, but each situation is the same sort of deal as the one above.


The Frontier

In this Round 4 Game I had White against a lower-rated opponent, and that is frequently a one-way street, like this game. The opening was played with four pawns across for White, not yet crossing the frontier as Bronstein calls it, but gaining a lot of space.

The game may look a little ridiculous until you consider that I was not playing for tactics, but rather for position and for endgame advantage. Alemayehu is frequently a strong tactical player, but I broke down his patience I guess, and that’s basically what I intended to do, cruelly admitted.

21…Ng8, 22.e6 Nb8, 23.Ne7 Rd8, 24.exQf8(N)+ RxN would have been picturesque.

25.Qd3+? is lame, and I knew it when I played it because I had spent so long looking at 25.RxNf6, but was worried about zwishenzugs. If 25…Qc5, then Nd7, if 25…Qe7, then Rxh6+ followed by Qd3+ and Qxb5 winning a piece and pawn outright, and I even have against 25…Re2, 26.Bxh6 is a possibility but not necessary as I was just calculating this wrong and am simply up a piece. I was expecting 25…Ne4 instead of 25…Kg8??, when I could play 26.QxRb5 NxBd2, 27.Qd3+ Ne4 and am now up an only an exchange from all of that, which is still a rook for two pawns all in all. I showed him this last variation after the game.

The sad part is that this game was not the highlight of the evening. The highlight was when Mark offered a draw to Expert Paul A., and I showed that Mark had a forced win in the endgame which even Paul didn’t believe, but Mark did find one of the moves himself. Anyway, it was a pawn sac and then exchange sac for the win, made my chess year. Oh, it was opposite colored bishops with rook pair and pawns. Poor Mark, it’s as if he sensed what to do, but lacked the confidence to play it or to believe in a final outcome.

Who Wins on Time Between…..

Mark McGough and Brian Rountree? (Brian Wall’s most frequent Google search).

Well, it’s the same as usual here, and it’s as I tell others, I try not to follow Mark McGough into his time-pressure. We are possibly the two slowest players in Colorado, but we are also possibly the two best blitzers in time-pressure when we are “on” (which, BTW, is not most of the time).

I always flag to Paul Anderson because he studiously writes down every move and the times in my time-pressure and gently, calmly makes his moves, which makes me think they are strong and that I am not in time-pressure. So, carefully I consider his move, and then I flag.

So, here it is, the Round 3 Showdown. Well, not much of one, and I don’t think either one of us was really up the task.

Mark was 13 minutes late, but for most of the game, I had a 20 minute time advantage until the endgame, where he systematically gained on me, and I finished the game with 6 seconds to his 16 seconds. From move 43 on, I cannot recreate the game, but the game score is close enough that you get the idea.

My rating keeps drifting down, even though my results could be considered “reasonable” as I beat Dean with White, lost to Paul Anderson as Black, and drew Mark McGough as Black. So you see, I am not a sandbagger, but oh yeah, I’m a big cheater if I don’t play in the Class A section. Well, I was exhausted this week and took a day off work, so I won’t be playing in the Salute to Boris Spassky tournament this month. Next month there are THREE tournaments!, so we’ll see, and I got no vacation days approved for either those tournaments or the one in October – might have to quit my job just to play in them.

Actually, it’s worse than all this; I can’t recreate it after move 42, but in the game I was in what I refer to as “psychotic time-pressure” which is where you knowingly make losing moves because you just can’t figure out the position quickly enough. I was bouncing my rook between d2 and d4 and told him after the game that he could have won by playing Rg1, and then I play Rxb4 and lose the rook and two pawns vs rook and two pawns race. This is what happens in my time-pressure, I bail-out into some losing pawn-race every time, but I was relieved OTB when he had passed this up and went into the total drawing line that I had hoped he would go into.

Game analysis:

My opening, left much to be desired (perhaps …Bb4 controlling e4 square was better than the passive …Be7). Mark showed me ideas like 6…Ne4 with the idea of play …f5 and …d6, maintaining a flexible pawn center. Certainly, I should be stronger at the openings that I play if I ever want to make Expert, let alone get back to 1800.

I considered 9…NxNe5 for quite a while, but rejected it because of 10.dxe Ndx5, 11.Ne4 – it’s “playable”, but I have this d6 weakness and after the game showed him if 11…f6, then 12.Nxf6+ followed by 13.BxBb7.

After 10.Qa4, I considered 10…c5? which he thought I couldn’t do because of the obvious 11.Nc6, but I told him I liked this because of BxN, 12.QxB Rac8, 13.Qa4, and that instead I was worried about having an isolated pawn after 11.NxNd7 QxNd7, 12.QxQd7 NxQd7, 13.dxc5 Nxc5 whereupon he pointed out that the d5 pawn is hanging and 14.Nxd5 or Bxd5 is winning a pawn.

So, I played 10…NxNe5?, 11.dxe, and then missed that he has after 11…BxNd5, 12.BxB Nc5, 13.Qd1 (a “strong retreat!” as Mark likes to call them).

I was relieved to see Mark play 13.NxBe7? returning the pawn just to have the bishop pair instead of 13.Qd1! holding onto the pawn. He even showed me 13.Qd4 with idea of 14.Qc3 (not sure if he meant to play that on this move or the next one, but in any case I was very fortunate).

Mark spent so long on the move 16.Be3! that I had long since regretted not playing the move 15…f6!?, letting him temporarily keep the extra pawn for a strong attack by Black.

16…Qxe5?! was not a happy move for me to play, but I couldn’t find anything in time. I spent so long on it that Mark thought I should have played 16…Nd7, which I was also looking at but didn’t like 17.e6 fxe?!, 18.Qxc7 keeping the pawn, but clearly 17…Qxe6, 18.Qxc7 Rec8 followed by 19…Ne5 looks to be the way to play that, and then I am keeping the initiative, unlike in the game. Now, I actually like 16…Qe6, 17.BxNc5 bxc5, when Black has moves like …Ra8-b8-b4-d4 coming up. Either way, I should have been playing for initiative rather than material. I think part of the reason this sort of line doesn’t get played is that at G/90 you are always thinking “Gee, my clock is telling me that I have 20-30 minutes to pick up my sh#t and get out of here!”, rather than the delicious anticipation of a second time-control to make the game more interesting.

It’s funny how he didn’t have enough time to find the win in his time-pressure, as I told him after the game, but it’s just as true that I didn’t have time to find the draw. hehe.

I’ve got to think there is someone out there that sees a game like this and wonders whether I am a strong player or just a wood-pusher(?!) So, I’ll show some of what I was actually thinking OTB, in this even-ish looking endgame!

19.Rac1 RxR (because I didn’t want to allow his rooks to double on 7th rank and have to defend with …Rf8).

20…Rc8. If 20…c5, then 21.Rd1! which he was going to play and we both agreed that he probably would have won after playing 22.Rd7 because my king is limited to the 8th rank and my rook is very passively tied down to defending pawns, very zugwang-ish.

27…Ra8?! Perhaps 27…Rc7 was the move because after I played mine, I began worrying about 28.Rc3, and if 28…a5, 29.Ra3 a4, when …b5 may be required at some point, which is weakening for Black. Also, 28…Ra7 looks weakening as well as in a zugzwang situation his rook could pop back into play whereas mine is cut off by by king on the 7th rank.

29.a3 This move loses a tempo and with this, a sea of possibilities were passed by silently in the night. I calculated nearly all of this on his move, and was mainly using intuition on my move. 29.bxa Rxa, 30.e6 Kd6! (I wanted to avoid 30…Kxe6, 31.Rxc6+ Kd7 would be wrong way for king, and the other move is very passive, as now 32.Rxb6 Rxa2, 33.Rb7+ kmoves, 34.Rxg2 Rxh2 should win for Black based on king position and pawn formation). I was still afraid of 31.e7 now OTB because my rook is not defending back rank and if Kxe7 Rxc6 we are still in that similar situation, although my king is better placed here and not in check, I thought he still might outplay me in this equal looking yet passive situation for Black where calculating further might be a win for White.

Also, OTB, I saw that after 30.e6 Kd6! that 31.f5 looks scary but he shouldn’t have time to pull this off as I have this lovely a file, particularly after 31…Rxa2, and the b and c pawns are passed and still undisturbed. But what I didn’t have time to do OTB was to connect all of the dots and see that after 31.e7, I can play rook back to a8 and stop the pawn that way, which is what I originally intended to do, and even round that pawn up with the rook, and win the game!

I didn’t show any of this to Mark because we never have this much time after the game, the place closes, and I still haven’t plugged this game into the kibitzer as of yet.

Also, in the post-mortem, Daniel saw that he could win a pawn in one line for Black, and I said that going for a win would lose there (Daniel and Mark both though winning for Black) but I said and showed that White wins if Black tries to, and that it is actually a draw. Mark had that same feeling in the game, though, that going for a win would be the easiest way to lose, and to his credit is an excellent defender. My only point here is that drawn-looking positions are the most dangerous of all, because between two rated players, the lower-rated player may not suspect the various pitfalls that the higher-rated player will pick up on.

Also, when I reply to Brian Wall’s list, of which I am a member, it does not post my replies (probably why there are a high number of replies by players like Dwayne Langseth, and none by other players ;-P ), so you can click on that hyperlink that says Round 3 Showdown, or here is the pgn:

[Event “Wednesday G/90”]
[Site “Panera”]
[Date “2014. 7.16”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Mark McGough”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “1799”]
[ECO “E18”]
[EventDate “2014. 7.16”]
[WhiteElo “1780”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 d5 8. Ne5 Nbd7 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Qa4 Nxe5 11. dxe5 Nd7 12. Nxd5 Nc5 13. Nxe7+ Qxe7 14. Qf4 Bxg2 15. Kxg2 Rfe8 16. Be3 Qxe5 17. Qxe5 Rxe5 18. Bxc5 Rxc5 19. Rac1 Rxc1 20. Rxc1 Rc8 21. Kf3 Kf8 22. Ke4 c6 23. b4 Ke7 24. g4 Kd7 25. f4 a6 26. Kd4 f6 27. e4 Ra8 28. e5 a5 29. a3 axb4 30. axb4 fxe5+ 31. Kxe5 Re8+ 32. Kf5 Re2 33. h4 g6+ 34. Kg5 Re4 35. Rb1 Kd6 36. f5 gxf5 37. Kxf5 Re2 38. Kf6 Rf2+ 39. Kg5 Rd2 40. Kf6 Rf2+ 41. Kg5 Rd2 42. Kh5 c5 43. bxc5+ Kxc5 44. g5 b5 45. Kh6 Rh2 46. h5 b4 47. g6 hxg6 48. Kxg6 Kc4 49. h6 b3 50. h7 Kc3 51. Kg7 Kc2 52. Rxb3 Kxb3 53. h8=Q Rxh8 54. Kxh8 1/2-1/2

BTW, my email address (also the one I use on that Yahoo group) is

Those Durn Endgames

…you’ve tried scrubbing, you’ve tried rubbing, but still….ring around the endgame (collar)!

It’s my own fault that I didn’t save time for it. Here is the Round 2 Game

After the game, I told Alex I should have played 42.gxh4. I looked at it, but he had played h4 quickly, so I moved quickly back, mostly just believing him but also feeling that quickened rythm equals compulsion to move.

Well, after he plays hxg I _then_ spend a minute deciding whether or not to resign. That minute would have been better spent deciding the best move on the previous move. When I analyzed it this morning, it looked like a draw, but if I play how I probably would have during the game, I can still easily walk into a loss without finding necessary finesses; e.g., 46…gxh4, 47.Rd4! (I didn’t even see this while analyzing) Rg6, 48.Rxf Rxg, 49.Rxh5 Rxb2, 51.Rh7+ Kc8, 52. Kd6 is winning for White.

I lost due to poor clock-management and endgame weakness, and also appreciate when Paul beats me because it shows the lack of necessary endgame “class” or finesse, particularly at G/90, that an Expert has.

Dropped a piece

…but he didn’t see it (as Ben Finegold might say). Whereas, he dropped a piece…and I saw it (Ben’s videos crack me up).

Round 1

The complications after 15…e5 looked mind-boggling, and I was even considering going for a positional win with 16.Nxe5, spurning the piece (because he had spent so long on this move before making the “automatic” rook recapture of 15…Rxf6, to which I credit him for making just to hang in there with chances later on). I would probably just take his pieces and survive, as that looks quite winning it just requires the right mindset; really, it would have been fun to defend that for the win. You can’t know everything, but you can play within your limits, and those limits can be far out there.

It’s funny how we had both missed the Ng5 recapture (I saw it when I played exf e.p., but I would have postionally played that move in any event). But when you spend time on one specific postion, you can really drill-down deep into the tactical complications. At least tactical complications are more forcing than positional sequences.

I thought he could have played 21…e5, 22.fxe Nxe5, but the thing is that he would be starting out complications a piece down to begin with.

29.Re1?? I should have played this a move sooner, I missed ..exBf4. 30.Re8+ Kf7, whereas he rejected it because of 31.Rd8, but then he has Bc6, 32.Nxd5 and I’ve won a pawn for my piece and his f-pawns are a target, so it’s somewhere between equal and -1. Actually, when I played 28.Qf2, that was a touch move and had to play it, else I would have played 28.Re1. Well, at least I am giving it my best shot to play within the time-control.

I had 7:01 remaining on move 50, so I was proud that this was a full game, and played like one, yet I still had time. I thought his weakness was that he didn’t make moves in complications quickly enough, he was giving me too much time, and yet he did spot and play the pawn-winning …Qxe5 move instantly. I didn’t see it, but knew that the Bf4 reply had only improved my position.

Because I’ve been studying so much of Karpov, the tactics just seem to be a back-up of the positional play. Not getting the inferior position is the thing to strive against (although you can’t win ’em all).