This is a bit embarrassing that I missed a mate, but then again I could have made lots of blunders before that point and managed not to, so I can’t feel so bad.
So, still with this cold recovering from, thought for sure I would be over it by Tuesday but I was blowing nose and sneezing all day before this. I took a vitamin B, and then three decongestants (once I figured out they might pep me up, hadn’t taken any before) before the game. Then I took a shower, got dressed, and still likely wouldn’t have gone but for some reason now Alex wanted to go. When I got there, I still felt loopy and a fair bit out of it until I got a Dr. Pepper out of the machine there. I was a bit worried my play might suffer late.
Anyhow, Calvin (who just won his age group in the state scholastics this week, and has drawn an Master and beat an Expert in this tournament alone, this month) decided to sac on b4 26.Nxb4 when I had 7 1/2 minutes left or I noticed that clock time some time during my move. I had seen this sac, but didn’t analyze it because I didn’t believe in it.
31.Qg6+ Funny how this is move 31, so once again if there had been another half hour after this point (and I did feel I wasted most of my time looking beyond this and not for the 30 move part of the game) or two hours total, I feel fairly certain I would have won or at least played the winning 31.Rf7. I kept looking at 31.Rf7 until I had half a minute, and then went for the draw. 31.Rf7! does win. I saw this, basically 31.Rf7 Rg8, 32.RxB QxN, 33.h3 Qb1+, 34.Kh2 Qg6, and now its equal, but I no longer have a forced draw.
Well, I got home and Houdini said it was winning there after 31.Rf7, so I was still scratching my head (and still mentally under the effects of this cold) and looked at 32.Rf4 g5, 33.Rf7+ Kg6, and saw that that is not a win, so still didn’t get it. Then the engine shows me after 31.Rf7 Rg8, 32.RxB QxN, 33.Qh3+ Kg6 (I saw this far even OTB) that I have 34.Qxe6+ (which leads to mate). Needless to say, I had a hard time getting to sleep at first knowing that I did not see the maneuver Qh3+…Kg6, Qxe6+. I know, how could I not see that, but it simply wasn’t in my pattern recognition like it is in some other people’s. I’ve always said “I am bad with my queen”, but known I meant particularly when it comes to zig-zagging her, and now I can see that I have no choice, it’s not an option, I have to be able to do this in games because opponents will test me. Funny enough because opponents usually don’t test you on this because they see it and avoid it for you.
Calvin didn’t give any indication after the game that he thought he had been lost, so he must have missed this too (I don’t think he would have cared if here were lost or not so much as that he hadn’t won the game). I also felt that with my cold it was good to just draw him and not mess it up, but that’s also because I knew Calvin was on a hot streak. After the game, I was disappointed that I didn’t win, and was shaking my head when I decided to go for the draw, but it was odd that he seemed disappointed that he had only drawn as well. Even when I drew him it looked as if he was looking for ways to avoid the draw, as if this were even realistically possible.
I think that this was MDLM’s idea with his concentric-circle tactical training exercise. The exercise itself seems silly to me (someone made a Youtube video of themself doing it). The main gist of the idea, IMHO, is really to get you to practice the patterns that you are particularly bad at, to get yourself to improve that way (his way in the book seemed to be that you don’t know what you are bad at so you have to practice everything, but perhaps in a second book he might have wanted to say to practice what you are bad at once you figure out what that is). Naturally, everybody has their own tactical holes in their ability set.
In society/civilization, people can specialize, and the whole becomes greater than the parts. In chess, it’s just you, so you have to be competent in everything, save possibly choosing your openings. After that, you have to expertise in anything imaginable that may come up OTB, which is part of the aura of what makes chess “enlightenment” seem so unrealistic or unattainable, yet so beautiful to behold.
One thing that probably hurt my play was that I blindfolded in the opening (don’t even like to look at the board now, initially), but later in the game I fall from that habit as time-trouble sets in and I’m more concerned about deciding on the strategic direction of the game, and not missing possible candidate moves.
The more positive news is that I think I am basically finally over this cold as of right now.