I went to the club, expecting to get White against a 1100/Unr sort of opponent, and instead got the top pairing. Josef, I hear, has recently moved to the Springs or at least to Colorado, and was once rated as high as 2360 back in 1996. He’s also an Original Life Master, it appears; a very friendly older gentleman.
I played the QGD, Capablanca variation, because that happens to be the one line I felt most familiar with.
14…b6. The other plan that I considered here was 14…Bf6 with …Re8 and …e5 to follow. Definitely, this was the simpler and safer plan to play against a Master.
15…Bb7. Once I released the piece, I began to see a tactic for White. 16.e4, Nf6, 17.Nxf7 RxN?, 18.Bxe6. Then I noticed that the king would need to take on f7, but that Nf4 and Qb3 seemed to be crashing in, and also that the Nf4 and queen could coordinate on g6 as well, and I sort of got lost in all the ways for Black to lose, so much so that I just played my original move 16…Rc8 anyway. I figured that …Qd6 would expose her to a fork, as would …Qc8, and that …Qe8 seemed very playable here, but did not want to play ….Qc7 for some reason, as Josef suggested after the game, but realized as soon as he said it that I was silly for not playing it. Really, it’s easy to get lost and caught up in seeing ghosts on e6, but it’s important to realize that it’s just a valid attacking idea and should probably not be so simply winning.
19…exf? I saw 19…Nd5, 20.Qb3, but 19…Bf6 was the sensible move.
24…KxNf8? Unfortunately, I was already in time-pressure here and decided on playing the most “coffee-house” line in the position. 24…RxB, 25.Qd2 QxNf8 is the most solid continuation, IMHO, but even here White is markedly better, not in material but in position. In my last analysis with Alex, as White I got a Nc3, Rf5 and Qf3, three hitters on d5! Black simply has too many weaknesses to probe.
Another line I rejected, as too risky, was 24…Qe3+, 25.Kh2 RxBc4 (this is the proper recapture – can’t let Black push d5 as in the game), 25.Qh7+ KxN, 26.Qh8+ Ke7, 27.Nc3 and now the king is exposed to Re1+ when the Black queen moves to defend the h6 pawn.
Regarding Blitz, I do not feel like I am a natural blitz player as much as you, RollingPawns, probably because my game is not as well-rounded as yours. I can attack well, as in Standard, but my defense is poor and consumes clock-time just as in OTB. The biggest problem with blitz is that it kills my desire/ability to want to analyze positions deeply. I have to play an OTB game after that just to remember what it’s like to analyze again, and appreciate that that is what I like about chess. 😉