Richard “Buck” is a National Master even though his current rating is down to Expert and he doesn’t play as much these days, mostly directs. I’ve been lucky to get mostly White against him, as I can think of three times where I was Black against him and he pretty much slaughtered me, but as White I have this winning record (mostly luck, I figure).
Okay, so normally we get into a Scotch, where he has been very unlucky, and I was more thinking of trying a Ruy Lopez (he has a King’s Gambit win as Black published in Bill Wall’s KG miniatures book from back when he played in Dayton, Ohio). I got lucky in that he played a Caro-Kahn, probably to throw me off. After the game, he asked me if I had ever played this line before, which made me think that he had never faced it before, OTB.
Well, I got an advantage out of the opening, but even then was dropping the ball move after move until he played 9…Qd6? After this, I got a big advantage but was still not playing best moves.
Later (why do I keep doing this?), I got into time-pressure, and did not want to trade queens, but did once I had two and a half minutes left on my clock. Paul pointed out that he could have pulled even with 29…BxN!, but instead played 29…Be7, whereupon I slowly began to outplay him in my time-pressure to once more establish a significant advantage.
Still, I feel that that given his skills, and given mine, it was a gift resignation, as he surely could have played on to try and find more drawing chances. He correctly pointed out that after 37…Rc7, 38.d5! that White has a significant advantage, but White has to follow this up correctly with 38…Kd7, 39.Nd4!!. I would have never found this move in time-pressure, and in that line I would have played 39.d6. So, after the game I let him know that I was actually going to play the safer line 38.Kf2 followed by 39.Ke3 with ideas of playing Rc5 and trying to control the position by improving my pieces. This line isn’t any better or worse than the 38.d5 line where I follow it up with 39.d6, according to Houdini, but my play all game had been far from spotless, so I feel really thankful that the game ended the way that it did.
I did blindfold the game as much as I could in the opening, but later it became impractical. You can’t really blindfold it anyway, because if you try to do that all of the time, you’ll become unaware of when your opponent has made their move. Still, in any position requiring difficult calculation it can help, but most of the time were are too nervous to do it, as humans locked in combat OTB.