Sort of a crazy game. I played the early opening alright, misplayed the late opening, struggled to defend in the middlegame, then he was almost +2 when I recaptured with the rook on e5 (he can play Rxc6).
Then he blundered a pawn, and I knew I was significantly better but had two minutes on my clock and had already offered a draw twice ( once in the 0.0 position), so didn’t want to risk it playing for the win – which I would have played for if I had had more time.
Lastly, in a drawn endgame, with perhaps a couple tricks left for White to try, or not, he blundered his rook thinking it was a stalemate – instantly played – but then realized I could just take the rook and resigned after I took it. He knew it was a draw though (I didn’t yet), which made this result seemingly so sad, but he was okay with it.
10…Ne4?! Yes, I felt that 10…Nd7! was stronger, and that I might have an advantage there, but I also realized that I could only spend so much time on this move where neither move loses, and my opponent almost blitzes through the opening, or only thinks on my time. I had analyzed that the …Ne4 move was okay, and I realized I didn’t have another ten or more minutes to waste looking at …Nd7. I was mostly concerned with 10…Nd7, 11.Qa4 Bb7, and only considered 11…e5!! after playing ….Ne4, and I did spend nearly his whole time on his clock (since he stopped now to take a while to think) on what would have happened had I played that move instead. Nevertheless, I had played …Ne4, and it was a different game now – that is what Alex typically does to me, makes the opening all on my clock, and this often gets him what he wants against me, me in a passive situation and down on time. Years ago, this was probably more intentional, but now it just reflects his style and chess strength and understanding.
19.Rb7 I felt that 19.Be5 was much stronger, OTB, but stockfish says it’s only a miniscule difference of improvement for White from the played move.
22.h3 He debated between this and the stronger 22.Re7! (although an engine won’t say this because from this horizon it all looks the same to an engine, so you have to play the moves out to see the difference. Miraculously, he didn’t see my …e5 idea.
25.Rbb7? This move is given as +1, whereas 25.Rxc6! is given as +2. It’s interesting to consider that at +2, you also have to calculate Black’s counterplay more deeply, which may seem discouraging when you are making a “human” decision. It seemed more obvious to me to play this sort of strong move, but mostly because I am Black and can see that it removes my …Qf6 option. Alex does this from time to time, avoiding the knockout, and letting opponent’s slip-out because he doesn’t want to have to lay his cards down, on the spot, during complications, if he can’t see a clear reason why he should.
30…Qe6. Around here and on the next move, I offered Alex a draw because I thought I probably had some sort of perpetual chances against his king, and I was low on time so didn’t have much to play for myself because of that. For some reason, from my perspective during a game, it seems like Alex gets more conviction when it is close to a draw, perhaps because he doesn’t want to give up on what he had earlier in the game.
37.a4?? This is the trickiest practical point in the game, since Black can actually conjure up mating threats here, and this move is shutting his rook from the defense of his king. 37.Ra6 was a move given by Stockfish, but 37.Qe1 is the move it gives after a while with 37…d4 continuation. I was actually playing for the draw now because of time, but decided to play for a win with the extra pawn later in the rook ending, which is when Alex offered a draw and I decided to play on just to see where it went.
37…d4? Winning here is 37…Rf1! It’s +5 for Black. White can try conjuring up one last futile attack at Black, but then Black is mating as it was lethal to give up the back rank in this position with effectively queen and rook vs queen, and one less pawn on that side to shield his king.
At the end, it doesn’t appear there is a way to break through, and with 1 minute and nine seconds on my clock, probably would have offered the draw shortly, as I didn’t want to trade rooks against a better king and pawn player than myself. But as you know, he made a blitz-move blunder and the rest is history as far as tournament standing and rating goes. He probably blundered because he thought it was such an easy draw that he wanted to prove it to me by impressing me, but after the game he showed how it was as draw and how he had carefully considered everything, so the blunder was quite ironic and seemingly tragic.