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.


5 thoughts on “Crumbling in Time-Pressure

  1. I really did not like the decision 11. … Nxg3 to trade off your beautiful knight.
    I will grant you that damaging his pawn structure could be a plus – but just a quick glance screams g5 rush with pawns or Qh6.

  2. Hi, Paul! That was my initial thinking too. 11…NxNg3 was my longest move of the game by far and by that point was also a decision to keep the game manageable, practical, and as you said infirm his pawn structure.

    11…g5 did scream out to me and would have been my blitz move. After the game, I showed Daniel the variation 11….g5.12.Nh5 Qh6, 13.Ne5 (nicely clogging up my active play, and defending his Nh5) g4, whereupon he immediately played 14.Nf4, super-clogging the position. If you or an engine likes this let me know, but when I saw it OTB, I was glad I went with the 11….NxNg3 line. The problem, as is typical with me, is that I spent too long on the initial decision and not enough time on the follow-up. Doh!

  3. Rybka seems to like Bb4+ – forcing him to lose castling privileges. On a second look, it seems g5 or Qh6 ideas don’t seem to pan out or fizzle out. Rats! If the knight is not traded off, I could not find a way for White to progress. There must be a way to prevent White from stopping Nh5 and clogging up the works.

  4. I think you missed the initiative earlier than move 24, playing 18… Rf7 instead of Qh3.
    After this move he can’t defend pawns e3 and g3 at the same time. It proves that your idea of attack on the kingside was right. Then after losing a pawn you are worse. Why did you play 38… e5? This move loses after 39. dxe5 Ba3 ( weird, but other moves are worse ).
    He also could win after 42. cxd5 or 44. cxd5. Then he made a few mistakes too, giving up f6 pawn and especially exchanging the rooks. Of course with opposite colored bishops it’s a draw.
    Pretty wild game. :).

  5. After the game, he thought that 18….Qh3 was winning, too. I wasn’t so sure, suggesting 19.Qe1, and then I came up with this idea of getting my rook to g6, when his knight can’t play Nh5xg6, but later he can get his rooks on the 2nd rank, take exchange on g6 and give the exchange back on h2, trapping the queen (this was my “brilliant” idea for him).

    However, to respond to your suggestion, I just looked at this position again and right away notice that after 19.Qe1 comes ….Nxe3! 20.QxN Qxg3+, 21.Kh1 Rf6 winning. I find that so easily now, like some bullet-chess continuation. hehe. It is a bit surprising that I was in such lousy chess shape, but I was, and even knew it before the game.

    lol. 38…e5??, 39.dxe drops the house on g7 (and d6). Wow. Didn’t notice this until you pointed it out. Goes to show that blitzing out tactics is a loser’s game. Time-management is ruthless at a sudden-death time-control, and even a 5 second delay is a joke compared to a more reasonable delay such as 10 seconds.

    We call this Nimzo-Larsen opening, the Cheesecake when White plays it quickly and passively like this. It’s basically saying, I am going to race through the opening and challenge you later on your clock. Trust me, the people who play this system know exactly what they are doing, placing their bets on the clock for an advantage there, and mostly striving to avoid dropping anything out of the opening.

    During the game, I thought he might play Qe1-h4 to trade queens, but that drops the e3 pawn to …Nxe3 after the trade. Worse is that passive methods fail as well to the simple…Kh8, followed by …Rg8 plan. Double rooks on the g-file, then …Bd7-e8-h5, then …Nh2 should win. White is cornered up and would need to sac for active play. A little time on the clock can go a long way with a -+ or –+ type of position like this.

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