An Expert a day

(Pun on Phillip Jose Farmer’s book titled “A woman a day”)

Okay, so I don’t really play an Expert every day here, it just seems like it.  😉

Round 1

This month, me and Alex decided that we would play on Thursdays, which has the odd time-control of G/110, d/10.  I was a couple minutes late, so it’s basically around an hour and 50 minutes for the game, and it probably feels closer to that weird 15 second increment they use in Toronto.

Anyhow, I got under a minute, as you could well guess by flicking through the game.  I worked out on my end of the board that I could only draw, but on his end, I had not calculated out 32.Nc1 or 32.Rc1 drawing, because I thought that he was going to force a perpetual, and I was looking for a way to win instead of draw.  The bad part about extreme time-pressure is that visualization/blindfolding suffers because you don’t have time to do it properly (I’m sure at Magnus’ level he’s learned to do it instantly).  In any case, nerves and excitement got the better of me and I missed that after 32.Nxb2 that my knight is no longer guarding b4, so his 35.Qb4 came as a shock to me.  It felt best to trade queens, but I knew he’d be up two queenside pawns.

31….Rc2.  Let me share how I came to make this move.  I wanted to win his knight with 31…Rc4?, but saw that it fails to 32.Nd2 forking rook and queen.  Also, I had been looking for some time at this nonsensical idea of …Qc2+ followed by …Nc1, all the while never noticing that I want the queen on b3 where she is when I play …Nc1.  It’s as if all of the ideas hadn’t come together in my head or been observed yet, when I suddenly needed to make this move for the sake of time.

In this game, I actually completely missed two of his queen moves, which would appear to be obvious ones in hindsight.  29.Qxd4  Never saw this move, thought I was simply winning.  35.Qb4, same thing, it was as if a bolt from the blue to me, never saw this simple and obvious-looking (and both were forced, at that!) queen move.

36…Qd1+??  I let out a groan when I played this move instantly, as no sooner had I played it I realized that I should have played the correct 36…Rc1+, which is better and forced, but still realistically too tricky to deal with without a 30 second increment.

The opening was bizarre and poorly played because my main goal here was not to get in trouble on the clock.  I was about to play the best and correct 11…Nd7, almost grabbed the piece when I did a blunder check and noticed that 12.Ng3 would then win a pawn, and a center pawn at that!  Well, my intuition and instincts still told me that 11…Nd7 was correct, but my calculations kept telling me that I was dropping a center pawn and would need to get in …f5 to protect that pawn.  Well, if you calculate deeply enough, you will realize that Black can give up the e-pawn, and will then win the d-pawn in return.  Alex looked at this and simply said ‘but the extra pawn will be in front of his uncastled king’, and so based on that would simply not worry about White taking that pawn.  In any case, I realized that I had gotten a busted and soon to be lost position.

I was happy to see 20.Ng3, as 20.Rhg1 looked like curtains to me, I let Daniel know after the game.  I had to try something quick to get back in the game, hence 20…c5!, which I had been planning since the move before.  This, and the following moves caught Daniel unaware, and he seemed to be reeling before he regained his composure, and played the game very objectively, and cooly after all the exciting continuations.

I knew I was doing well, when Daniel quickly blundered with 21.Rxd5, instead of 21.Nxd5, which I was dreading (and, according to Houdini, even that is not the best move for White!).

Daniel didn’t actually take my queen on move 39.  I just threw that move into the score so people will know why I resigned immediately after playing 38….Rxc2 with seconds on my clock.

Well, Alex and I will both be playing in this weekend’s 2017 Colorado Springs Open five-round tournament.  The first two rounds are G/90, d/5, and we both wanted to get in some practice using a delay time-control.

I should add to the game notes that 34…Ka8? was also a mistake as it made 35.Qb4 much stronger.  My final verdict on the end of this game is that 32…Nxb2?? was simply a game losing blunder.  There was no need to panic and try to force something, but I also didn’t have enough time left to figure out the draw.  It was I’d say an energy issue as well.  I started to feel tired during the game as I finally got an attack going, didn’t have any coffee or tea or anything before the game as I usually do.  He was doing a lot of calculating and figuring, and I simply wasn’t calculating/solving the critical problem at that point, was looking for an easy answer to present itself instead of having to do the work.



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