After three straight losses this month, I got Jesse, who was rated 1467 back in October, and sadly has dropped back down to 1288, but I know he’s a LOT better than that. My initial response was to want to play for the draw, against anybody as Black, to stop the blood-letting, but as early as move 3.b3, I realized that I needed to strike back and not let him get in anything for free.
On move 18. …d4, I was torn between playing d4 and c4, c4 looking best, but I wasn’t sure I was getting all that much out of it after all. Surprisingly, Stockfish has been tracking our last few moves and now confirms that 18…c4 was a bit stronger. I didn’t realize how much play I was giving him with 18…d4 at first, but actually it is very strong too.
I thought he might play 19.Na4 right away, which Stockfish says is best, but instead he helped me by resolving some center-tension first with 19.exd4?!
When I played 21…Ng4, I realized that the game could get crazy with 22.Ng5? which would actually be losing to some amazing complications, but I noticed that even say, 22…g3, 23.Qh3 h5 was better for Black, and Stockfish confirms that it’s close to -2, in favor of Black. Stockfish says it’s actually -10 after 22…Bxh2+, 23.Kf1 Nce5, 24.Qxh2+ Kf8, 25.g3 Ng6, 26.Re1 Qc6. So, White is so well off that White can allow a bit of a Black temporary attack just so that White can win that much more quickly.
24.Qxd4?? I can’t lie, I was happy to see the game over with a favorable result, and an interesting game it was! You were playing very well Jesse! (not that he reads my blog).
I was expecting the game to continue with 24.Qe4 Nc4, 25.Qd3 NxB, 26.QxN, and now Stockfish finds 26….Qb5! threatening 26….Rd7, and Black’s d-pawn is immune. Jesse’s strategy seemed to be to beat me on the clock, hence his game-ending blunder.
In other news, Travis “AKA the 1300 player” lit up Sam, who is near 1900, in a real tour de-force victory as White, with a very fine sac. Travis will be shooting up to Class A soon, if he keeps playing.