In my final match game with Imre, Round 4, I played The English Attack of the Sicilian for the first time OTB for me, that I can recall. Here is a model game: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1800174
Here is another game where Anand wins as Black. It’s the same game as mine and Imre’s, except that Black plays an early …b4, and then …Ne8 instead of …Nh5. This game gives an impression that it was won with prep: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1385670
I titled this post The Equal Attack because White’s attack seems so equal.
17.Nd2 Na5 and Nd5 are both safe, but neither leads to an advantage with correct play from Black.
18.Qh4? Imre and Stockfish both criticize this move, but in human terms I still have difficulty understanding why it is such a poor move. Aha, it’s weak because he simply has …f5, if I play Nf1, and also he can sort of force my Nd5, then he captures and gets access to the 4th rank for his rook, as he did in the game.
18.Nf1 Rfc8, 19.Ng3 Nxg3, 20.hxg3 Qc4, 21.Qh2 b4, 22.Nd5 Bxd5, 23.exd5 a5, 24.Rh1 h6, 25.gxh6 g6, 26.h7+ Kh8, 27.Qd2 a4 is a remarkable equal (=) line. I told Imre after the game that I felt that this attack up the h-file idea was going nowhere, although I didn’t see all of that, saw quite a bit of it.
On move 19, I felt stuck, and decided to sac a pawn to make play easier for White, even though it also meant giving up intentions of winning the game.
On move 30 (a natural time-control move), I threw the game away with 30.f5?? because I couldn’t figure out what to do with under a minute on my clock, and wanted to slap myself after playing it since right after I played it I realized it was completely losing and that I should have played 30.Qg2. Stockfish says that the position was equal 0.0 before making this blunder (and it was hopelessly lost after it).
I’ll try to explain exactly how I made this blunder. By the time I was down to 2 minutes, Imre had about an hour on this clock (sort of the normal pattern for this match). After this is when Imre began to use most of his time (he got down to under 5 minutes by the games end), and while the time helped me on one hand, on the other hand it also made me more tired. Often, when I blitz, my opponent also plays quickly. In this match, it was the most dramatic example of the opposite of that I have ever been faced with (which was excellent experience for me, by the way!) When he played 29…Rc5, I had spent no time considering this move (one reason is that I wasn’t spending the energy to look for all forcing moves on his clock). I felt the fatigue, and the need to “play something forcing”, so I blundered. I knew this was bad, but felt I didn’t have the energy to come up with anything else. As soon as I had played it, I noticed Qg2 and questioned how I could not wait to see this move or just flag instead?
One thing that impressed me about Imre’s play was his remarkable level of technique, as it struck me that it is a big part of his game. On move 36, he played the uncompromising 36…Bxf6!, 37.gxf6 Ne8!. Now, he could have played 37…Nf5?? which puts me back in the game, or 37….Ne6, which appears more active, but is not as strong. I had blitzed the sequence of my moves, and he did take some time here, but only enough time to quickly calculate, just a couple of minutes, very impressive!
It was an interesting game, and a delightful match, although my score isn’t going to reflect that. lol. I can say that match play is about “hanging tough” to collect points or draws; and just saying that isn’t enough, you sort of have to play one to get the feel and experience from it. It’s not that tough, you just have to avoid blunders, and have the energy to do that over a long game.