In Round 4 I was tied for first place with Sam, and had never played him before.
Shades of last week, I played really well with lots of time on my clock, but as soon as I felt my time dwindling, it was back to making those coffee-house moves that I probably knew better not to do given more time.
10…0-0-0??. There is a long stretch in the game from here where White is totally winning, you just have to analyze it deeply enough. I was sort of disappointed how Stockfish tore my position up, but not totally surprised. I was more surprised at how at the end of the lines where I should have lost a pawn that I have no real compensation, according to a computer, even though White would have to defend well to win and avoid losing.
Eventually we both got down to under one minute on our clocks, he started making blunders instead of finding decisive wins, and then it was over. I actually announced checkmate when I delivered it, which I don’t believe I’ve ever done before, probably just because I was so glad it was over.
Here is a little bit more analysis:
2…e5. I play this, quite naturally, because I want to make it into an “e4 game”.
3…d5. I played this because it is my repertoire, and I felt it’s too late to deviate against a high-rated player (Sam was still 1880 at the end of November). I did consider here playing 3…Nf6, or 3…f5, but didn’t want to risk the uncharted waters aspect of it.
Coming up, there were variations where it looked as though White could win a pawn ending up with Qh5+ and Qxe5, but the key move that steps out of these variation is that after Qh5+ ….Kf8! Black is winning.
10…0-0-0?? 10…d4 is the thematic way to hold the position. I suspect that 10…d4 is the book move, and this is a book position after 10.e4, Sam told me.