Endgame time-pressure with a Master

Round 2 game click here

You should probably go through this game first before reading my commentary, so that it is not a spoiler.  I spoil most of my blogs by giving away the result.

I played the opening and early middlegame alright, but once I got the feeling I could draw this game, I went into draw-mode (neither of us ever offered one, though) and kept throwing away possible advantages because A) I sensed that I had the chance to draw a Master, and B) I knew that I had mismanaged my clock, and he was up on time.

Time-pressure affected both of our performances, I feel confident of even if he didn’t mention so.  First, I played myself into an ever deeper defensive hole, which Houdini says I had active ways out of, but then you simply don’t have time to calculate those things at the board.  He had a win in the king and knight endgame, if only he had triangulated my king with his to gain a tempo, but he got down to around 4 1/2 minutes, so he didn’t have time to work that out apparently.

I got down to 36 seconds on my clock, when I played “with the hands” (with hands-shaking) the move 48…Kd5??  At first, I didn’t know what was going on since he was moving quickly, probably because he knew it was a draw when I played 45…Ke5 (he let out a groan), but I still hadn’t found the draw, only sensed it.  Then I had the funny feeling that perhaps I should be playing for a win (first time all game I had that thought).  So my first instinct was to play 48…e5??, but then I wanted to “cut off his king” and played the blunder Kd5.  I asked myself why I played that move so quickly (a brief moment of irrational exhuberance).  I had thought we might get into a pawn race, but after 5 seconds it hit me that he could play 49.Kb6! and his a-pawn was simply going to be way faster.   I never saw his 49.Nxb7 because I have almost exclusively been studying middlegame tactics rather than endgame tactics.

On a five second delay, I feel I would likely have blundered again or flagged, but had I played the obvious 48…Kc7 on the 30 second increment, I feel confident that I would have drawn this game because I would have easily built up minutes on my clock.  Curiously, after the game, Josh let me know that he didn’t think he could play 49.Kb6 because he thought my e-pawn was too fast!  This just goes to show the outright magnitude of how time-pressure spoils the results of chess game.

In the future, I’ll have to play stronger in the endgame, keep enough time for reasonable drawing chances, and study some endgame tactics.  I should be studying endgames more as that’s where I’ve been not so much losing rating points as missing out on rating points – even missing the draw against Jason last month (1550 rated) had cost me about 25 points, though.

Also, these five second delay time-controls are really not for me, as I really need the chance to build time in simple(r) endgames.  I had all but said I would be willing to play at 30/90, G/30 to the TD on Thursdays, but at 30/90, G/20, which it is going to be, that really spells (continual) disaster for my rating.  I’ve been playing like crazy for ten years, mostly on the 5 second delay, so by now I know that I can’t take liberties by playing at some new time-control like that (G/90, d/5 has also been a disaster, and it only worked because I played so many miniatures against lower-rated players).

Hopefully, this game will give the reader a sense of which liberties you can and can’t take when playing against a Master.  This game didn’t make it seem there was a nearly 500 rating point difference between the two of us, and it didn’t feel like it OTB either until the very end, when I started getting nervous.  The reason I played as well as I did was because A) I had studied some theory on the Catalan in the last few months, B) I have been getting lots of Catalans against Expert and above players (won my Catalan as Black in that last big tournament against an Expert), and C) I stayed remarkably calm all game until the very end, when I lost my composure for a brief moment.  Alex said he played well against Imre by not being result-oriented (i.e., nervous?), and here it’s when I got result-oriented in my game as well, that my brain went into that a tizzy when it did.

If Mitch had shown up, I would have been paired with a different opponent, was not expecting to get paired with Josh, but that’s how it goes in Colorado, you learn to expect nothing, and that actually helps.

All in all, I’m glad that my blunder was well after move 40 (move 48), which is a victory for my argument of bringing back 40/2hr (SD half an hour or more) time controls, at least for serious weekend tournaments, as it was after move 40 that I needed the extra time.  Perfect example of this was move 41…Kf7?  I knew this was a time-pressure move.  I did want to play the correct 41…b6, feeling that after 42.Nxa6 Kd7 I could win the center pawn, but I saw 43.Ke5, and only saw 43…Nc6+ sometime after I had moved.  When my opponent sped up in my time-pressure, that turned out to be the end for me.

A cool note about the 49.Nxb7 pawn sac.  Josh said you have to look at all forcing moves in endgames.  I commented to him that I had looked at it earlier but stopped thinking about it, since there were fewer pawns left in that side of the board.  Then I realized after his sac that it is with fewer pawns on the board that this sac becomes stronger, I mentioned to him.


[Event “Tuesday Swiss”]
[Site “CSCC”]
[Date “2017.02.07”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Josh Bloomer”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “1802”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “2286”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bg2 dxc4 6. O-O O-O 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4
Nc6 9. Qxc4 Qd5 10. Qd3 Nb4 11. Qd1 Qf5 12. Nc3 Rd8 13. e4 Qh5 14. e5 Nd7 15.
Qe2 c5 16. Be3 cxd4 17. Bxd4 Nc5 18. Rad1 Bd7 19. b3 Bc6 20. Bxc5 Bxc5 21. Ne4
Be7 22. h3 Qf5 23. Nc3 Qc2 24. Qxc2 Nxc2 25. Rc1 Nb4 26. Rfd1 Rxd1+ 27. Rxd1
Rd8 28. Rxd8+ Bxd8 29. Nd2 Bxg2 30. Kxg2 Kf8 31. Nc4 Nc6 32. f4 Bc7 33. Ne4
Ke7 34. Nc5 Nd8 35. Kf3 f6 36. Ke4 fxe5 37. fxe5 Bb8 38. Nb6 Bc7 39. Nc8+ Ke8
40. Nd6+ Bxd6 41. exd6 Kf7 42. a5 Ke8 43. Kd3 Kf7 44. Kc4 Kf6 45. b4 Ke5 46.
d7 Kd6 47. b5 axb5+ 48. Kxb5 Kd5 49. Nxb7 Nxb7 50. a6 Nd6+ 51. Kb4 Nf7 52. a7
Kc6 53. a8=Q+ Kxd7 54. Kc5 Ne5 55. Qb7+ Ke8 56. Qb8+ 1-0











3 thoughts on “Endgame time-pressure with a Master

  1. You played really well in the opening and later, in the middlegame.
    There was a move 23… Nd3 , attacking e5 pawn, that was giving you an advantage,
    but you probably already started to think about the draw. Then again 26… Nd3.
    YEah, 48… Kd5 lost the game, by the way 49. Kb6 wins the game too.
    The knight endgame is like a pawn endgame, you want your king to push away the opponent’s king, so 48… Kc7 would serve that purpose.
    All in all, good effort and good learning experience.

  2. Thanks for your comments!

    I would have replied earlier, but I spent so many hours over different days going over this game, to the point where I’m going to keep my response brief.

    I considered 23….Nd3 as soon as I finished playing 23…Qc2, but even then I wasn’t seeing the board correctly, now that we were playing faster, and thought he could reply …Nh4, but then I could take it with my bishop. I did think I was probably giving something up big, positionally, by not playing …Nd3, and I could do it after the queen trade as well for an advantage.

    I also back-pedalled a lot in the endgame, and looked at more active responses with Houdini. All in all, he gave me the option of giving him the positional squeeze, and I should have taken it as that is where my most likely winning chances against a Master are anyways.

    Yeah, I put in my comments that I noticed that 49.Kb6 wins about five seconds after making my move. There were two people watching my game at this point when I moved, and I felt more excitable, like I should be trying to find a win instead of rather than what the position absolutely called for.

    Playing higher-rated players takes a lot more time in game-analysis. I spend more time going over the game than I spend actually playing it. I could have played last night, and apparently would have gotten a higer-rated player (at that awful time-control), which might have been alright, but it would be one more game to spend lots of time analyzing, that’s for sure.

    Actually, if I have more time for the game, and that allows be to play better, then that will save me time from having to analyze so many bad moves that I played during the game, later on.

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