After I attended my father’s funeral in CA, I went to play some chess against the regulars there, they were pretty much there as before, not much had changed in the five years since I had left it, although they had moved to a new location down the street from where they were last.
My result was a dismal 1/3, although the play wasn’t all as one-sided as might appear from that description. I’ll post the games as I get them uploaded.
19…Nb8? I drop a pawn here in time-pressure, but that’s basically the only reason that I lost both games anyway. Note that if I had played 19…Na7, that my follow-up move of 20…Bc6 would have worked.
The king and pawn ending was a time-pressure blitz as well, so I can’t even recreate exactly what happened, but needlessly to say that the gallery was eager to point out all of the draws I had missed since his extra pawn was doubled (he didn’t even get his king as aggressively posted as I am showing here). So, I threw away the draw in time-pressure, too.
This game was interesting because I was playing against a little kid and I wanted him to take my pawn so that I could get some quick win/loss action leading up to the next round, as the previous round had been too much of a grind to want another slow game. I’ve never seen analysis on why Black should not take this pawn, as the book line is not to take it, but here I give a little miniature on why it is best to think twice before grabbing the pawn (letting me recapture the pawn would have lead to a dull game, I was afraid). I knew there was the strong possibility that he was in trouble as soon as he had played …Bb4 rather than the more solid-looking …Be7.
In the final round, my opponent spent a lot of time in the opening and after Qxd4 he had about 30 minutes remaining to my approx 70 minutes. At this point, he offered a draw. I asked him how many points he had and it was clear that a draw would win first place for him. I told him that I had paid too much entry fee not to play on ($25 for 3 rounds, and I had blown another $17 on lunch and $17 on gas), plus I couldn’t win anything that way and it would be a disservice to the other two players in our quad. When I had 30 minutes to his 3 minutes, I realized I could probably blitz a win with no trouble, but since he didn’t move while I took bathroom breaks, I did the same for him and also spent a lot of time looking at RxNd7 variations on move 21, even though I ended up playing my blitz move, which I had seen two moves previously. I felt obliged to take my time and not blitz him, since he took his time in the opening, and I didn’t want to win that way. As it turned out, the other two players in our quad didn’t even stick around to see the end of the game.
27…Nb6? I realized his blunder straight away, and that I should be winning, but for some reason, even though I was never nervous all day, I suddenly got nervous thinking about not wanting to blow the win, and spent lots of time for no reason at all since I had seen the continuation that was to follow.
31. Nxd8? In all my excitement, I had messed up my score-keeping in that little forced exchange preceeding this and didn’t know what move I was on, and panicked and grabbed the knight and said “crap!” knowing I was supposed to play 31.Rc8, but had to move my knight now. I even played 32.Rc6? quickly, knowing it was a bad move but then asked him about the time-control and he said “I think we’re a few moves over it”, but he kept score except for one move I think.
I can see, looking at this now that 32.Re1 would have let me play 32.f3 and get my bishop out. Once I took a good look at my position, I realized I was doomed even with rooks on, although I should have kept them on anyway. All the steam left my sails once I had made that move 31 blunder, and I am only realizing now that that was the move after I had already made the time control. I put this into my tablet and let Stockfish look at a couple positions, and it says it is approx .5 advantage for White had I won his a6 pawn in the 31.Rc8 variation. If I had carried my time advantage with me into the second session, I probably would have won, but it was tricky and 30 minutes for him would have been a lot of time, and he seems like a strong second-session player. In any case, I would have won $18.50 had I won this game.