After all of these previously successful tournaments, I have to say that I didn’t feel quite ready for this one, and was glad to start off with Shirley as Black, as it’s an 897 rating point advantage for me.
Luckily, Shirley played the opening passively, and didn’t put any of my physical conditioning (or lack thereof) to the test. In fairness to her, she probably wasn’t feeling in any better shape than I was.
Even though I played the entire game in half an hour, and her even less, I spent the most time on move ten, where I played 10…a6. I immediately examined 10…Bc4, 11.Nc3-d2 Nd4, 12.Bf3 (….Nxe4! removing the defender and winning a pawn)…NxBf3, 13.NxNf3 Nxe4, 14.Nxe5?? and here I wasn’t sure about the position, but the Bd2 is hanging, so 14…Ne4xBd2 is winning a piece. One reason I cut off my evaluation a move short is because I felt that my position was already strategically strong, and another was that I didn’t want to waste excessive time on something that wasn’t going to be good positionally, if the tactics didn’t work out for material gain. That being said, I should have been more motivated, and not so quick to make a move.
I was moving so quickly that I didn’t notice that her pawn was hanging on e4, after 20.Nce2? Luckily, some positions play themselves, particularly once she dropped the exchange.
I guess Magnus’ trainer Simon Agdestein was more true than not when he said that even though you are sick, it doesn’t mean you can’t end up playing a great game. Been reading “Wonderboy” lately (Carlsen’s games).