Sometimes, You Just Gotta Believe

Round 1

I got paired with a brand new opponent whose first rated games have been played in the still ongoing Thursday tournament, which will be rated before this one, and therefore I stood to lose a lot of rating points should I have lost this game.

Mike is a guy around my age, new to tournament chess, but plays casual chess at the Mate Factor, along with many other locals.  It’s been a famous hangout for the last few years where new players are recruited by Pete.

Alexander F. had won his game against Mike on Thursdays, but I had the feeling from the start that this game could go either way.

I played the not so hot 5….a5?! which led me into this 8…Bxe3, which I had never tried before in a rated game.  I didn’t like the position I got, and so played the opening in a very definite, and circumspect manner.

I liked the result of the opening, but in the middlegame I simply used to much time searching for a workable plan.  Nerves lead me to not calculate well.  I was worried he might have a double-exchange sac on f6 for a perpetual, but as long as a rook isn’t on f8, I can run that way, and I could also capture with a pawn on f6, as long as my king can run.  The fact that I didn’t calculate this correctly was a big part of why I didn’t attack well on the other side of the board.  I got down to half a minute when he had over 70 minutes remaining.

I tried an exchange sac, but simply didn’t see his move.  Then I just panicked and played my knight move, letting him take on f7 even though I knew his rook could get away.  Then I went after his king and was dropping my knight should he play 46.g4.  He said he saw this, but thought my b-pawn was more important – I let him know he could have taken that pawn later.  After surviving that hairy ordeal, I calmed down and played very matter-of-fact.  Now it was up to him to either find a win or offer a draw.

He sacked a pawn for what he thought would be mate, but he missed that I had 64….Nxc5.  After realizing he had missed this, it was now his turn to feel a demoralized sense of panic.  He still had around 66 minutes by the end of the game, but appeared to have lost his sense of control of the game, once I survived his mating-net.

Like I told him after the game, 36…bxa4 was simply a dreadful mistake (played in time-pressure).  36…b3 was much better.





5 thoughts on “Sometimes, You Just Gotta Believe

  1. Hello, Mike here. Thank you for the game and posting it. Thanks to Peter for letting me know. I agree with all of the comments and I also appreciate the feedback after we played. No excuses but I am new to playing “Real chess” in tournaments, using a clock and keeping score. I am also trying to figure out the best way to learn from all of this computer / internet information that is available today. All of my knowledge has come from a few books years ago and just playing (losing a LOT) chess from a “feeling” standpoint. This was probably one of the best games I have ever played and as you said (I agree) after the mating attempt failed I lost my agressiveness and therfore the game. I had other chances that I missed after the failed attempt and I do appreciate you staying late after the game, pointing them out and all of the insight you gave me.
    Thanks again for everything, Mike

  2. Thanks for the kudos and feedback, Mike! 🙂

    Yes, you were winning until around move 72 of 74 moves, so you did a great job! Your rating will improve particularly once you get comfortable drawing and winning long games, I mean the end of the game, yes.

    I mostly use books for training. I will find classic GM games on from the books I read, and then plug them into a chess engine (I use ChessX, which is free, or ChessKing) to analyze with. I like this guy’s videos, but I have nearly seen them all so I don’t watch chess videos too much anymore, it’s mostly books:

  3. Yeah, the exchange sacrifice was not sound.
    Computer offers 42… Nxc5 instead of Nh5 with almost equal position.
    After 43 moves you were lost, it looks like he didn’t have a plan how to do it.
    Then 63. Rc8 was winning on the spot.
    His 70. Ke1 was allowing e3 with a good chance for a draw, you still played it a move later.
    Yeah, it is important to stay cool in such a game.

  4. I considered 42…Nxc5. It’s funny that I didn’t play it considering I was looking at far ratty-er continuations to play, but then time-trouble got the best of me, which it usually does to people.

    Yeah, 63.Rc8 is a snap-mate next move, nice find! I knew the walls were closing in once he played g4. Alex liked 62.Ra8, winning, but for example White is winning even after the simple 62.Rc8 Nb4, 63.RxN RxR, 64.Rc6+. I don’t need a computer to figure out that that variation is winning, even though you wouldn’t even need to do that to win as White.

    I thought about playing 70.e3 when I played 70.Kd3?, but was trying to trap him into doubling his rooks on the d-file. Should have been contented to force the draw, but sometimes when you have played so long for a draw, and the opponent has been giving it to you, it’s hard not to suddenly want to play for a win.

    You’re right about coolness. I watched a 70-mover tonight, and it was all about which player stayed cooler in time-pressure. Pete was losing, but then he won against Mark because he stayed cooler longer in time-pressure. 😉

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