My recent Round 3 game against Kevin “Gene” L shows that I still don’t have my full mental focus back, although I have been effectively using mental discipline as a substitute.
It’s something about that cold that goes around that affects my brain, even though I barely have the effects of it – the dry mouth finally went away today, lets see how my lungs hold out at work. But even this morning I wake up and my brain has trouble with simple things at first, and then I am more or less fine. I get that feeling like something is very gently pulling on the top of my brain, as if thinking were a physical act; and none of this ever happens in the Summer, for example, where I virtually never get sick.
I had a big-think on move 7 of half an hour, not sure how to proceed against this setup which was entirely new to me. Then I came up with this plan of 7…Ng4, 8.h3 N6 with the idea of …f5, and semi-possible follow-up of …b6 and …Bb7, saw this line twice but then my brain got foggy, couldn’t concentrate, kept trying to remember this line but couldn’t, then played 7…e5 and immediately remembered it. The tournament conditions were perfect from a chess-players view, it was just my brain that could not focus properly, and I blurted out the 7…e5 move out of frustration, as I could have blitzed this move initially (didn’t feel comfortable with other ideas like …c5 or …c6). After this, I was able to focus much better the rest of the game, though.
29…g5? My blitz move, that I had seen before he even moved his queen, was to now play 29…BxN, 30.QxB Qa1+, 31.Qe1 Qxa, 32.Qd1 Kg7, 33.Qb2, but then I wasn’t feeling 100% confident that I could win from this position, but really I should have had more confidence (perhaps it was from all my bad luck as of late with my results). So, I decided to look for a “squeeze” move and came up with this clunker. It’s doubly silly since I was planning to defend the pawn with Bg3 if his knight moves, and then to threaten …Bh2, but I feel the time-pressure got me here because it’s a finesse-move situation here and I really hadn’t saved time on the clock for one. After the game, I strongly felt that I should have played 29…Kf8, and then this would shut-down his e-pawn push that he surprised me with next.
31…Qa1. When I played this move, I already knew I would be trading queens, and thought that it was winning at the time.
35…c5?! Not the right move, although it’s hard to evaluate with more extensive analysis whether or not I had winning chances. It’s probably just a draw here, but “chances” is the operative word.
37…h4. I begrudgingly played this move to stop h5 from being played, which would probably win for White I felt; If this move hadn’t been necessary, then I had already calculated out a win for Black. So, I knew that I had dumped my win and that I was going to have to try mightily just to hold after this move.
So it turned it was just a draw. Now it was obvious that Gene could simply force three-fold with his next move, so I looked at him rather impatiently, and he looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and turned his hand up near him, so I grabbed his cold hand thinking it was draw offer but realized it was more of a question, and then he said “I guess it’s a draw”, then said “Can I play 55.Kd2??” and I replied “I’ll hit your clock if you want to play on”, and then he said that “Well, you have that 30 second increment” hesitatingly. So, essentially, it seemed relatively certain that if I had been playing on the 5 second-delay rather than the 30 second increment that he would have played on to press me on the clock and then lost. A fittingly bizarre way to end the game – as so many of my games seem to end!