Hard to believe that I hadn’t won in a while going into this game, my last outing with White against a lower-rated player was a draw, and now I faced a player who was higher-rated than that one, and who moves quicker as well. My four-mile jog before the game takes away my calm-energy, and I am left with nervous energy, which is good, but can lead to nervous mistakes as well, and a lowered level of a confident feeling while playing.
9.Be3 White has a sizeable advantage here, but I didn’t have the guts to go with Daniel’s post-mortem recommendation. 9.Na3 (the d-pawn is still immune) Qb4+ (…Qe6+, 10.Bee Nf6 also looks suspicious for Black), 10.Bd2 Qxb2, 11.Nc4 Qxd4. I stopped my analysis OTB here, questioning just as much why I want to go down two pawns to a 1600ish player who should be able to beaten by simpler means. However, Daniel confidently continued with 12.Qa4! Nf6??, 13.Be3 Qd7 14.Rc1 Rc8, 15.Ne5 wins. So, instead if 12…e6, 13.Be3 Qd7 (13…Bb4+? should fail to 14.Kf1!) 14.0-0, and after 15.Rd1 and 16.Rc1, you probably wouldn’t want to be Black, thinking about holding those two pawns, when White is developed, Black is no castled and very worst case scenario is getting at least say the a7 pawn back as compensation, but no one strong would stoop to this if it only gained a pawn from the position.
12.Qa3. Daniel liked 12.Qb3, but I had calculated OTB 12…Qb6 (..Be7 is also very possible and likely best), and if 13.d5?! BxNd2+, 14.KxB QxQ, 15.axQ exd shows that such a shot here would be premature)
15.QxQ. I thought strongly about playing 15.Rc5 here, and probably should have played this based on positional principles, but at the last second changed my mind based on faulty calculation of the line that I played.
19.Bf4. I had missed that after 19.Bd2, Black has the fork 19…Nb3!, and I didn’t even see this until I started to reach for my bishop. I was far from touching the piece, but couldn’t find a move here that I liked anyway.
28…Rb8?? A blunder of a pawn this late in the game, with no compensation, is just losing.
32.Bd7? At this point in the game, I was just a bundle of nerves, knowing that this move was a mistake, but playing it anyway because I didn’t want to calculate any more as I went below four minutes. 32.Rd7 was the obvious move, where 32…Nc5 fails to 33.Ra7, and 32…Nd8 fails to 33.Bf3 a6, 34.bxa6. These lines are clear as day, but I was feeling too nervous to calculate clearly and simply.
34.Rb6? Rb7 is clearly better, defending White’s seventh rank
37.Rc8+ Around here, Pete came to look at my game, and I shot this move out first for some reason, because I didn’t want to calculate that 37.Rc6 is winning based on his king can’t reach a passed c-pawn in time.
38…Rg8? Here I had taken the time to calculate and was hoping she wouldn’t play 38…Kf7, as 39.Rc7+ Kf6 and it’s going to be long endgame. 40.bxa6 Rxa6, 41.Rc4 when White can cleverly still play for a win due to Black’s pawn islands. 40.Rxa7 is probably just as strong, or at least against a Class player, due to the pawn islands of Black and healthy pawn front of White.