….analysis second, and considering your opponent’s rating should be a distant third when selecting a move.
I was playing against a Master as Black, and had missed work and overslept my nap due to a bad cold that has lasted roughly six days already. When I got there, nearly an hour late, I was down to 42 minutes to start with.
In the post-mortem with Earl and Gunnar, Gunnar had analyzed more than I had OTB, but it seems in hindsight that I have a very strong intuition, and that’s probably from studying so many books and games. A great calculator can make Master, but intuition progresses over a lifetime for most players.
24…d3. Earl was mostly fascinated by 24…e3 which was interesting to analyze but not directly relevant to the game, as I had looked at that move in some variations, but here 24…d3 was clearly called for.
BTW, I was the only one of us who thought the best move here and on move 25 was RxBc4!, and we never even looked at it because when I said it they completely ignored me or cut me off and jetted on with a different line.
After 25.Rc3?, I was incredulous that Gunnar was giving me 25…g5!!, which I had felt might be winning on both of these moves, but in the end trusted his rating, and 25…d2? (played on the increment) seemed less risky. Actually, I had 7 minutes left here, and suddenly my cold started kicking my butt, and I lost my desire to focus here. 25.Rc3? really contains the idea of Bb3-d1 in some lines, and is aimed at stopping ..d2(?) rather than ….g5(!!) To reiterate, I needed to play …g5 on both moves 24 and 25, to stop White from equalizing with RxBc4 (trading off both rooks and ending it with a BxRc4+ move)
It’s interesting that I really didn’t understand how to play that line, the rook and pawn endgame part. After 25…g5, 26.Be3 Bxe3, 27.fxBe3 Rf3, 28.Rf1 Rxe3? (here the Black rook can lift up and let the king over via f1) which equalizes after 29.Bd1! (switching diagonals) So, 28…Rc8-f8! (threatening d2 and cutting off White’s king is the winner). If White instead defends passively with 28.Re1, then after trading down on the c4 square, Black will eventually have the sac …Rxe3, Rxe3…d2 queening.
However, even though that line above with 27…Rf3 is completely winning, like -3, there is an even better line which would have taken more clock time to calculate OTB. 27…Bxb3!!, 28.RxR d2! (the point), 29.RxRf8+ KxR, 30.Rc8+ Ke7!, and now White cannot play 30.Rd8 to stop the pawn, as the king would simply take it. Earl was looking at the ….Bxb3 move in the 24…e3 line, but it is something completely different and gets refuted by a5…Bb6-b7, when the position has nearly equalized.
In the end, I blundered and flagged, and even had I taken the free d4 pawn with my king, it was still +5 for White as his king is stopping the advanced pawn (which is what I had failed to calculate, OTB), and after he plays his rook to the open file (Rb1), it’s curtains for Black in just a couple moves as the a-pawn will be swallowed up.
I feel like I lost this game due to laziness, but that a big part of that was my cold kicking in at the wrong time. If I had started with full clock, I probably would have used a lot of it to overcome this situation and would at least have had more winning chances than in the game, or potentially won it (particularly had I not had the cold).
Gunnar missed …g5. I missed that the rooks or rook endgame was so completely winning out of a all proportion. This is the endgame I’ve had the least experience with, OTB and in books. Most people’s “best games” books rarely include zugzwang rook endings with so many pawns (and rooks) on the board. I’ve gotten some nice experience from going over this game, and it’s too bad I didn’t try it out OTB.