After taking a first round bye, I wasn’t even sure which player Travis was until he introduced himself to me. I knew he was Pete’s friend, just hadn’t associated the face with the name more than once before, and had never so much as played a blitz game with him before.
Naturally, I peeked at his rating listed at 1267 after 4 games, but it’s now at 1503 after only 11 games, and rising!
My first instinct was to play a Ruy Lopez and grind on him in order to feel out his strength, and that nearly always works for me, but today I was on the wrong side of correct decision-making, and opted to play my “normal” opening, to have him show me what he knows. Little did I realize until he told me after the game that he plays the King’s Gambit as White and has played hundreds of online games with it!
3.Nf3 – The Knight’s Gambit. Travis prefer’s 3.Bc4, the Bishop’s Gambit, because he knows all of the traps in it.
3…d6. The start of The Fischer Variation (4…g5).
4…h6. The Becker Variation
6.h4 Not sure if this would still qualify as a Kieseritsky Gambit with getting h4 in this late or not.
7.Nc3?! My gut told me to play the best move 7.c3, and I had played it before and wanted to challenge myself, and authors of old loved to call this a wimpy (but it’s solid and strong!) move for a KGA player as White.
10.Bxf7+?? Losing immediately. 10.e5 is the best move in this position, but it’s better for Black if Black plays it right, though still not winning, and White still has winning chances as well.
I remember Brian Wall telling me to play the Bxf7+ Cochrane Gambit in against the Petroff, if I wanted to make Expert, but this doesn’t qualify as the same thing. For some strange reason, I made a visual error here that I’ve done before, somehow not realizing that the king would be on f7 in ensuing variations, which is actually a great square for Black’s king here! The king is getting closer to his undefended kingside pieces now that the Rh8 is no longer there to defend them.
13.Nd5 After 13.Qf5+ Qf6, 14.Qc8 f3, 15.Kf2 White can draw, but instead simply 14…exd4 is around -3.5 in favor of Black.
14.exd5 I didn’t want to do this, as Black’s Ne5 becomes virtually the best posted piece on the board, on the other hand allowing 14…Nd4 which forks the Qf5 and fork check on c2 would be fatal.
16.Bxf4? A bad sac, but here illustrates one of the fatal flaws of the Bxf7+ sac, White was not developed enough to play it in the first place!
17…c6! Cutting out the forlorn hope of White playing 18.Nb6.
22.Rh7 Desperately clinging to the hope of a lower-rated players’ blunder, but after 22…Bg7! White is pushed back into oblivion.
I flagged as I reached to press the clock, and then resigned, but he wasn’t looking at the clock and was focused on playing 22…Rd8+, which leads to a mate in three after or a royal fork after 23.Ke1 Qd2+, 24.Kf2 Ne4+ royal fork, or 24.Kf1 Neg4, 25.Nc3 Ne3+, 26.Kg1 Qc1+, 27.Kf2 or Kh2 is met by …Nf6-g4+ followed by …Qf1 mate or …Qh1 mate.