Tournament in California

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.

Round 1

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.

Round 2

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.

Round 3

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.


6 thoughts on “Tournament in California

  1. I am glad you are back. Will look at your games in detail, liked the second one.
    I am having a losing streak for already a month, lost another one today.
    The difference was I actually played well, got a position with 3.5 advantage and up two pawns. Then blundered a pawn and it all slowly went down from there.
    In the endgame my plan with my pieces penetrating into his territory almost worked, but I didn’t see the perpetual. Eventually I lost.

  2. Thanks! 🙂 Yeah, I played sorta stumbly-fumbly and felt the same way.

    It sounds as if your game should have been a normal win for you, but that you were tired enough to be off-form to cause missing dropping a pawn, and then had to keep re-winning the position, but because your form was off missed again and the draw as well.

    I was on-form on Thursday, but only played a Class D player. Nevertheless, I would consider it one of my more impressive wins, even if it were slightly routine for the way I play. You were on a long trending positive streak, so I am hoping to encourage you now by my play. I’ll try to turn things around. I know how difficult it is to stay on form, you’ve seen my umpteenth off-form games.

    I’m hoping my being back will be a morale booster for you. For you to have got an advantage, then to have lost it tells me that your chess-strength is still there, but probably got overwhelmed for other reasons after that. I’m working on these little other reasons in my game as well, it’s going to be a key to our future success. 😉

  3. Round 1 – Computer doesn’t like his 38. Nc5, after it 38…Bxc5 39. dxc5 Nc4 40. e4 is equal.
    50… Ne4 is not good, your knight is better than his bishop.
    72… Kc8 was drawing and 76… fxe6 too.
    I understand that it is difficult to play having a disadvantage all the game.

  4. I looked at that first variation OTB, but didn’t realize ’til now the follow-up to 40.BxNc4 in your line, which would be to play Rxc5, pinning his Bc4. And if he pushes 40.c6, I have Qxb5. Simple stuff, tactically, need to find this stuff even in time-pressure (but of course should still avoid time-pressure). OTB, I felt he was continually letting me off the hook but couldn’t find a critical move such as any one of these to force visual equality.

    72…Kc8 gives up the opposition, but boxes-out White’s king, I see.

    At the end of the second variation, with three seconds on my clock I didn’t have time to think about …f4, gxf, …h4 (once his king has stepped onto the f-file), and Black can force a draw there, as in 76….fxe6, 77.exf exf, 78.Ke6 Ke8, 79.Kf6 f4, 80.gxf h4. Yes, it was a source of confusement OTB.

    Thanks for pointing these moves out! I had more than ample chances to draw this game, but lacked defensive strength/ability.

    BTW, OTB I thought that he was weak for not punishing me with 12.Bxh7, but now I can see that Black has sufficient defenses. For example 12.Bxh7+ KxBh7, 13.Ng5+ BxNg5, 14.QxNh5+ Bg5-h6, 15.g4 (threatening g5 to get his piece back that way) Rg8!, 16.h4 Ne7 with …Nf5 to follow is probably more than sufficient counterplay, since Black’s pieces, which look so desperate for activity, now have it. In any case, he didn’t seem to be looking at this sac with his eyes at all.

    Ah, scratch that. As soon as I lie down on the sofa I visualize my mistake as 15…Rg8? doesn’t work, but 15…Ne7, 16.g5 Nf5!, 17.gxBh6 gxh6 (the Nf5 is defending h6 now), and 18…Rg8 will give Black the better, and more active position. But was my opponent looking at that? Sh*t no! haha.

  5. Round 2 – Accepting pawn by Black gives White 65% score and 8… d6 is better than e6.
    Still, if he would play 12… d5 instead of e5 he would be OK, it was a crucial mistake.

    Round 3 – If you would play 16. Bxf6 gxf6, you would have ~1.6 advantage.
    In the end it is very difficult to find the right moves having such a bishop.
    Maybe your king could help, but it would be a tough battle for a draw anyway.

    Yeah, hopefully your return will bring me luck. 🙂
    I had too many stresses, it was a reason of the losses. I don’t even know if I should come on Thursday, because there a 50% chance I will get a 1-point bye.

  6. Round 2 – After …d6, I will isolate his d6 pawn, and if he trades queens I will castle queenside. After 12….e5, I am looking at 13.Ng5 and thinking at his rating he will lose at that line, as I don’t see the refutation of it. I like this line the more I see it, and 65% at a top level is wonderful. 🙂

    Round 3 – Yes, 16.BxNf6+ gxNf6, 17.BxBe6 fxB (or KxB), 18.Nc4 Bc7, 19.Re1 is an easy win as he can’t get a third defender on and pushing/sacking it goes nowhere. Thanks for pointing this out!

    I don’t know if it is a far drive for you on Thursday, but I would certainly understand if you took a bye if it were. The only thing is that you get strong opposition if you do get to play. You have a rating to worry about whereas I don’t, but you have played a lot of games after a hard day’s work and done better than I. If you have that feeling you will lose, then don’t play because it will feel like it is a waste of time (even though it never really is). 😉

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