I don’t know what I was thinking on move 19, Qb3, as I knew he had craftily regrouped to put four attackers onto my d-pawn. I was expecting him to play 19…Ba8, and of course I had looked at 19.BxNf6 just to prevent him from winning the pawn. Pete showed me that the move is 19.e5 +-, when White is virtually winning here. When he took my pawn on d5, it came as a complete surprise, and yet my next reaction after thinking I had blown it and must try to trade d-pawn for b-pawn, which is not even possible, was to say “Can he really take that pawn?” Within half a minute I saw that he could not, and after a minute I was sure of it and played my move within about a minute and a half total.
It’s just weird that I didn’t calculate that he could not take that pawn, and yet he couldn’t. I had so much initiative and such a postional stranglehold that it’s not too surprising, but still, he got me down to four minutes on my clock at one point, and that’s enough of a scare right there. Another possibility is that I did calculate that he couldn’t take the d5 pawn, but it was done so rapidly and subconsciously that I don’t recall doing it, but I don’t recall not doing it either. Perhaps it was simply a moment of “unconscious competence” as Alex might say. 😉
6.Nf3. I didn’t want to play 6.f4 because of exd, 7.exd Bf5. Plus, you generally don’t want to get too “pawny” against a modern/pirc type player, and this is a closed-up pirc with …e6 cutting out his …Bg4 unless he wants to get into it with a Czech Benoni. This is really a d4 opening that I chose to go into when I played 3.c4 instead of 3.f4. I am not going to get ultra-religious about e4 and not play this as a d4 opening, particularly against a lower-rated opponent. In fact, I want to get some d4 experience in against weaker players.
I played 12.e5 to avoid his playing …e5 first, and because I prefer open positions over closed positions when I have an advantage.
14…BxN was a positional concession. when I played 14.Bf4 I was anticipating the reply 14…Qc7, 15.NxNd7 BxBf4, 16.NxNf6+ gxN when I still have pressure with 17.Bf3.
18.Re1. Somehow his 0-0 reply caught me unawares, so all of my previous thinking must have been wearing on me. Stronger may have been 18.BxNb8 QxB, 19.Re1+ Kf8 (Re7?? 20.RxR+ KxR, 21.Qe2+ followed by 22.dxBc6 winning the bishop), 20.Qb3 Ba8 is +-, or 19.Qe2+ Re7, 20.Qxa6 Ba8, 21.Qb5+ is +- as well, and even stronger. It’s obvious that I got nervous by my strong position, and hadn’t saved nearly enough time to give this position the true attention that it deserved.
The rest of the game is sort of self-explanatory. 🙂