I was paired against a comfortable opponent for me, nothing to complain of, but my nerves got a bit better of me than they should have given that the game was going all my way, laid out like a red-carpet.
Gene should have played 17.Rd1, but instead dropped the exchange with 17.Rc3?? Then he mysteriously didn’t capture my knight (after the game he said it was a “poisoned piece”, but it wasn’t) with 19.Rc2?? So I started to think about how I was going to manage my time for the rest of the game, and rather quickly played 19.Ne4?, thinking there was a slight chance that he would resign upon seeing he was down a full piece, not even somehow bothering to realize I could take his Rf1 and be up a whole rook!
I was going to play 21…Ng3? forking rook and queen, 22.fxN Nxe3 forking his rooks, but then got cold feet thinking his knight would be strong on e5, and decided to play for a knight trade instead. Stockfish shows that this doesn’t work as planned and is only about +1.5 in my favor, whereas the original …Nxf2 that I was looking at was +3, as in the game.
At one point in the game, I got down to one minute. Both of our clocks read “one”, but his was one hour and mine was one minute.
I played 29…Nd4? intentionally quickly, not bothering to calculate, but then quickly realized I was going to drop the d5 pawn. If I had bothered to calculate, I would have played 29…Ne7, to defend the pawn with knight. Anyhow, I didn’t want to trade rooks, but was feeling flustered by what had just transpired, and played 31…Qg6, thinking I might have a tactic for trading queens, but again it was no hard analysis and for a moment I thought I might be losing. Luckily, my only move was winning.
He offered a queen trade, which Stockfish says is best, but I knew it was over there, although still needed the thirty second increment to pull through and finished with three minutes on my clock. Apparently, he was upset at himself that I could have won a pawn with my queen a couple moves earlier.
I was really lucky to get out of this one with my dignity intact. He played well, aside from his blunders, and the way I handled it felt more like a loss on the way home, but now it feels good to have won it. 🙂
Ultimately, Gene spent 1 hr on the game, I spent 2, and so it was approximately 3 hrs long, and yet we were clearly the last board done of maybe 14 boards. I didn’t even feel he was playing that fast, but that my speed of play keeps getting outpaced by the times. Chess seems to be getting quicker and quicker all of the time, and I wonder whether I have become archaic, without really needing that question answered.