3…h5. This is “The Racoon”, “popularized” locally by Life Master Brian Wall (it’s been told to me that he invented this opening). The “Racoon’s claw” is Black pawns on f4, g5, and h4.
4.Bc4 4.d4 is considered to be most accurate here – i.e., you aren’t trying to stop …d5 so much as ..d4, since ..d5 is met with e5, or probably better simply trade on d5.
6…d6. Even though Mark took a lot of time playing these moves (which probably contributes to my subjectively spending a lot of time back!), he could have blitzed all of these moves, as you now have the characteristic position of “The Raccoon” with claw included.
7.h3. This move is not strictly necessary, and I don’t believe should be played yet, even though an engine will just as much chose this move as any other. 7.0-0 appears to be more thematic, but the best move in this position is the hard to find 7.e5! when after 7…g4, 8.Bxf gxNf3, 9.Qxf3 White is up +2, a-la Muzio Gambit style.
9.Ne2?! This is momentum-shifter toward Black. 9.Qd3, and if 9…Nb4, then 10.Bxf7+ KxB, 11.Qc4+ wins a pawn after 12.QxNb4. This is the King’s Gambit after all, so gotta play accordingly 😉
10.c3 10.Qd3 is another move. Curiously, Crafty rates the piece sac 10.Bxf4 as only -.6, while these other moves are -.3, so there is still a lot of possibility left in this position.
11.b4? Already in time-pressure! White loses the thread of the position, as 11.Qb3!! is practically better for White, as the sackety-sac stuff is all favoring White now.
12.Bd3? Once again, completely missing the thread. 12.exd! Nxd deflects Black’s immediate support of the f5 square, as well as sets up 13.Qb3!.
14.Qd3 After 14…Qd5! 15.BxB QxB, 16.Qc4 b5 (I saw this …b5, OTB but still allowed this variation to happen), White’s queen, and position are not as secure as they would be after 14.Qc2, when White’s queen can pop-up to the safer b3 square.
16.Qd3? Here, I thought that 16.Qc2 was better, and after my move saw that Black had 16…a5, but in extreme time-pressure made this sort of insane trade-off that Qd3 “looked more agressive”, even though I hated the thought of 16…Qf5, 17.Qc4 b5 (which ironically Mark didn’t intend to play). Even if I play 16.Qc2 or 16.Qb1! here, I will still be a tempo down over if I had simply played either of these moves on move fifteen.
17.Ne1?? But this is an even worse decision that 17.Qc4, as without the queen, White is simply down a pawn with insufficient compensation, and not enough tactics or positive initiative to show for it.
19.Nc5?! This shouldn’t really be a consideration for a move, as White’s Ne2 and Bc1 are still searching for a purpose, and therefore 19.Bd2 makes the most sense.
25.Bxe3? This ensures that three pieces are getting traded off into a lost endgame for White, therefore 25.Ng1, which avoids trades, is best.
27.Ng1(?) Not the best practical move in my opponent’s time-pressure, as now we are simply left with a winning king and knight endgame. There are more chances for mistakes with more pieces on the board.
I was disappointed by this loss as as even a draw would have let me split first and second place with Mark, but it did leave me with much valuable study material on the flip-side; I was able to look at quite a few sacs which White has which don’t show up in these simplified notes.
I’m on a Windows 10 PC for the first time in nearly a decade, migrating over from my Kubuntu machine that was getting old. I plugged this game into Arena, but it keeps wanting to play me and not let me move to analyze, so for now this analysis of these games will be brief.
Travis the player who I lost to last month with Bxf7+ sac in the King’s Gambit, so I played Ruy here.
7.d4 is best. I thought he might play 7…Bg4, 8.dxe NxB, 9.axN BxNf3, 10.QxB dxe, but Rybka says this is -1 for Black because of 11.Qg3 (double-attacking e5 and g7), and then Rybka sacs with …Bd6 instead of defending with …Qf6, 12.Nc3 Ne7, 13.Bg5 Qg6, 14.BxN BxN, 15.Nd5 Bd8 – this last part is my own analysis since I can’t get the program to cooperate.
13.Re1. Rybka thinks 13.Nc3 is most accurate.
I’ll have to finish this post another time when I get a program downloaded that will cooperate. It was an interesting game.
On Tuesday I played Mark for the final round and should have played a Lopez, but played a King’s Gambit needing only a draw, then tried to draw it but a pawn down, and wasn’t sure on a move that seemingly would have drawn it against him, but I saw better for him and chose the wrong square for my queen and then let him trade into a pawn up endgame which was winning for him, and he converted it despite getting down to 11 seconds and such.
Future plans: I am not planning on playing any Wednesdays next month as I feel that I need a mental break from playing/analyzing too much chess. I will be giving a lecture for a thematic chess tournament on the last Tuesday in March, which is probably going to be on the Evan’s Gambit. Also, coming up is the Colorado Springs Open March 12-13 which I may be playing in (I’d really like to play in it) particularly to widen the field of opponent’s from whom I normally play (might even get Alexander to come with and play in that one).
I may skip Thursday’s this month, which I really like playing in but I also need to focus other things like possibly looking for a new job, or getting into a new line of work. On the other hand, I will play on Thursdays for sure in April because the CSCC club is having G/30 Log Cabin Fever Reliever, and also Quick Chess, which I am not interested in wasting mental energy on, even though sure it’s fun; IOW, I won’t be attending. Like I said last year, I am done experimenting with time-controls (unless they offer more time or a second time-control).