Finding Balance

Round 4

Possibly the two strongest players of the tournament, Pete notwithstanding, faced off in this game with all the tension and prizes on the line.

18…Qxe7? (played quickly)  I made a greedy move here, trying to give myself easy drawing chances, should Daniel not punish me here, but punish he did.  I wanted the queen on e7 and then …Nh6, but that was asking way too much.  As soon as I saw 20.e6, I knew I had overlooked this strong move, and it’s “refutation-central” as Alex might say.

I almost went for 24…Nd7, and asked Daniel after the game what he would have played, and he played 25.NxNd7!  keeping the initiative so that he can follow it up with 25.bxc bxc, 26.Qf3 hitting another sensitive diagonal, when he wanted to play Qf3-e2xc4, and putting pressure on c6 as in the game.

27…Rd8??  I felt like this would be a blunder, but I also felt that 27…Nd5, 28.Nxc4 was game-over, which it would have been as well.

38….NxBd5?  A blunder, but it’s already next to helpless.

39…Qc8?? I still had two and a half minutes remaining, but the position is hopeless.  I played 39…Ne7 post-mortem, and he quickly replied 40.Qxc4, and then got his rook over onto the d-file and pinned it against my king.  40…f3, 41.gxf resigns might be a cute finish as White is in total control, and as Daniel appropriately put  it “You have a weak king!”

Walking into this game, I felt as though Daniel should be the favorite, and yet I hadn’t seen much of his games in quite a while, and wasn’t sure of how his style would be now.  I feel as if his style is a cross between Gunar and Paul Anderson’s styles.  Post-mortem he wanted to go for one speculative combo, which I could easily refute, but then said “it’s probably bad” – he used to go for those sort of things and lose games that way, but in the final round he knew not to play anything speculative.

I feel a game like this is a “maker” sort of moment, and Daniel easily played this game at Expert level, and I learned something as well.  I drank a bunch of coffee that I didn’t need because I was more enamored by the waitress than the game, and let up at the key moment on this effort, but I feel that this game was really more a “coming out” of Daniel’s chess-strength, to me anyway.

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5 thoughts on “Finding Balance

  1. Ugh, I really don’t like that line you play as Black there. You’re giving white an absolutely dream Stonewall Attack position (even the QB is outside the chain!) I wouldn’t want any part of that position as black after move 9.

    Maybe look at 3 … h6 and ideas of pushing c5 instead of d5?

  2. I came home from work tonight and started making some dinner, and the thought of 19…h6 returned to me, as a refutation of 19. f5. During the game, I looked at 19…h6, felt I needed to try and force myself to take it seriously, but only thought I would lose this pawn and am winning his f-pawn anyway. In fact, if I had noticed his 20.e6 follow-up idea here, then I could have refuted it with 19….h6! when Black has the advantage!

    19…h6, 20.f6? hxQ, 21.fxQ gxh2+ -+.
    19…h6, 20.Qg4? Nh6 followed by 21…Nxf5 -+.
    19…h6, 20.Qh3 (which is what I thought he would do) gxf, 21.Nf3 will round up Black’s h-pawn after g3 and Nxh4, but though you ostensibly only have a pawn trade, Black is better =+/-+ because White has a knight on the rim and has taken a pawn in front of his own king, in an opposite castling situation. Oh, and my favorite, almost forgot to include it is after 20.Qh3 gxf5, if White gets ideas of 21.Bxf5? exf5, 22.Qxf5, then …Nh6 settles matters. It’s ironic because 22.e6 is not fast enough here as after …f7xe6, 23.Re1 Kd7 defends e6, freeing up the queen!

    By my quiet play, I was still trying to preserve the pretenses of a draw, and not trying to play the best fighting chess, did not have the heart of a lion and thought I could try to defend and draw. Then later, I decided that I wanted to “confuse” my opponent by “mixing it up” instead of finding the soundest defenses.

    24….Kb7? I thought I had an unforced defensive move opportunity at my disposal and came up with this boner (bone-headed move). Actually, it was a forced defensive move, but I was not behind on tempos, so really could strengthen with defense! So 24…cxb, 25.axb Kb7, and if 26.Rh2 and 27.Rf1-h1, then simply 26…Rh8-g8 (preparing to push the pawn phalanx with attack, and defending it’s base)….Ne7-c8! The knight has fulfilled it’s initial defensive role of g6 and c6, and can now move on to greener pastures by defending it’s king against a rook battery!

    Poor clock management is what cost me this game. It’s easy to get low on time and then think about “forcing a draw” or “mixing it up”, while the guy with time wins game after game by punishing these delusions. After …QxNe7 in the game, I wanted to offer a draw here, but didn’t because I knew Daniel wouldn’t accept it and didn’t want to convince myself that I was playing only for a draw, but really, the thought of it was enough to have the same negative effect.

    Jabari, thanks for your comments! I did think about …d6, and …c5, and in any case it still wasn’t the opening that did me in, even after White got mega-space out of it. I spent a long time looking at h3, but it would have been a mega-disaster as he didn’t play Nd2-f3 because it was a real shot to play his queen down to h4 attacking my f2-pawn. It would have given him exactly what he was playing for, although I was strongly tempted by it, and for much time on the clock no less.

    One word of warning when playing strong kids is that they play their ideas quickly, the stream of moves together, so you don’t sense the strength in them, from a psychological perspective, versus an adult who might pour time into these ideas. Also, with speed, you might not sense the weakness of an idea, as well!

  3. My condolences! I went through it 10 years ago and it was tough.
    Try to be with people, you will feel better.
    A few comments you can read when you will get back to chess.
    19… h4 looks good, computer likes it and thinks it is equal after 20. Qh3.
    He missed 24. Nxg6 with advantage and your best reply to b3 was again h4.
    And 27… h4 again was making it almost equal. Then it went downhill.

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