An interesting improvement I had seen OTB, but not quite fleshed out at the time, was 10.d5 Na5, 11.Bb5+ Bd7, 12.Qe2 (threating b4) b6, which should give White the clear edge.
14.Bg5, hoping for either …Bf6, when 15.h4!? or 15.Ne4! or 15.NxNd5 are possible replies, or 14…Qb6?, where I spotted 15.Na4 Qb4, 16.QxQ NxQ, 17.Be7 picking up the exchange, since I had seen that 17…Nc2 wasn’t working out for Black.
23.Bg3. If I had to play this position again, I would probably go combo-central with 23.Qf4 g5, 24.Bxg5 fxg, 25.Nxg5 Rf8, 26.Qg3 followed by 27.Rc7 allowing Qxd4, and 28.RxBg7+ KxRg7, 29.Nf3+ wins the queen. Even now I can envisage such a combo quickly enough that he is fortunate that I didn’t have much time remaining at this point (still, it would take me a few minutes to flesh this sac out and play it). Most of my time in a game is spent on how to retain the initiative. So instead of that beautiful sac, I now start playing like an idiot who is low on time. hehe. 😉
25.Qc2? Completely missing his next move(s).
48…Qh7. He offered me a draw here with 25 minutes on his clock to 1 min 11 sec remaining on my clock. I spent half a minute and accepted the draw.
What went through my head when considering the draw offer? A number of things, but first an objective look at the position and clock times let me know my answer right away, and I thought my having that minute plus made him realize he couldn’t play for a clock-win. I was glad about this as I had run out of water at the table, and they had removed the extra waters from the room already.
Also, he had been spending good amounts of time on finding defenses against mating threats, and even after the game said he offered the draw because he was seen a lot of those sorts of threats.
After the game, I said I would have played (whipped out) 49.Be7, to which he considered the moves 49…Qf7 (which seemed to work fine, post-mortem against 50.Qg5+ which likely isn’t best…Kh7), 49…Kg7? (I know he wouldn’t have ended up playing this), and 49…Qh6 which he liked and probably would have played. I thought that 50.Qd4 would have then been winning and would have instantly played it, but this is too slow. For example 50…Bd7, 51.Qb6 Qf4+, 52.g3 Qe5, 53.Qxb7 e3!, 54.QxBd7 exf is not losing for Black and likely winning.
However, 50.Qb6 straight-away might be winning, but the odds are high that I would have missed this. 50…f4+, 51.g3 Qd2, 52.Kg2 Qe2 is already looking like a perpetual.
Subjectively, I had a good chance of winning by playing on, but I decided to be objective about it and usually am when deciding on draws offered to me. I realized that I hadn’t lost to Dean in about 20 tries and didn’t want this to be my first, especially considering how I had just flagged on increment to Daniel two nights before.