This game was lost in time-pressure. After the game, I felt that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t played 34.Rg3, which is close to equal. Spent my remaining time on deciding whether I should play that move or g3, which I felt could lose me the game. I wrongly played g3 anyway, and then could have forced the draw on the next move anyway with 35.Qxf7. We were both playing on the increment. Thinking I should pick up a pawn before getting my queen back to defend my king, I played 35.Qc8+ instantly, no analysis of 35.Qxf7 other than to think that he could play 35…Qg6 there, not even seeing 36.Qf8+ Qg8, 37.Qxf6 followed by 38.Qxe5. He probably would have forced the draw instead. I was so out of it for analyzing there that I thought he would be up a pawn after Qxf7, and in my mind I was still having trouble accepting that he hadn’t correctly played 34…Kg7 anyway.
I realized my exchange sac was bad right away, but figured it would get interesting, but didn’t realize I would be throwing this game away in time-pressure. I’ve always said that’s generally the recipe for me losing to Mark is to go into time-pressure with him. Actually, he had an hour to my 9 minutes, then he spent 40 minutes on move 17.Nxd2, which was the correct move according to Stockfish, and I had anticipated it. However, I saw that I could correctly take the b-pawn there but wanted more, or at least a more interesting, fighting draw. I just didn’t realize how much counter-play he would get in our mutual time-trouble.
This tournament is a wash at .5/2. Alex also has .5/2. I might play next week, but I’ll probably give up the chess study for now, as I realize that chess comes down to time-pressure reflexes after a rather well-played game, considering the challenges that were presented in order to recover from the mistakes made – a high-difficulty level let’s say. You can always criticize mistakes after the game, but you can’t appreciate the problems to solve at the time unless you try to see them yourself before looking at the moves.
In time-pressure, he sort of had the winning chances with a draw if he messes up, and I sort of have to find the draw or lose if I mess up. I think this was the difference. He screwed up and allowed the draw, whereas I screwed-up and allowed the win.
I played a sharp line where I didn’t know theory deeply, and I also played sloppy all game, like one move was great and the next move was terrible. After the game, I pointed out that he would have gotten a bigger advantage from 14…Nf6 instead of …Nb6. I missed this when I played a4, but saw it during the tactical continuation.