At 0-1, I had figured on getting Shirley(1000), Dean(1500), or Doug (161 rating), but got Sara with the White pieces. I was pleased with the pairing, but it meant that I had not prepared for her pet line because I thought I wouldn’t face her for another week.
Well, she played fast, the entire game in 17 minutes. I had an opposite problem from her in that this was the loudest that Smashburgers has ever been, and the second loudest game I’ve ever played in (there was one time at Panera it was louder, but only because there were no booths to shield the noise).
She played 13…Qc7 instantly, and I knew this was the main line, but since she played it instantly, I felt I had to test the assumption that her rook wasn’t hanging. Well, before I even looked at that I was planning on 14.Qc5 Qb7, 15.b3 Be6, and now I didn’t like 16.Qa3, but I never saw that I could play 16.Bd3 Bxa2?, 17.Be4 skewering queen and rook.
The noise and commotion made me not so much nervous as excitable. I saw that she couldn’t trap my queen, and might follow-up with …Be6, but I stopped my analysis there before even noticing that she forces the trade of queen for two rooks for queen with …Bf5 mate threat. I was okay with this, but was amazed that I had missed this, and part of the reason was that I was having trouble getting focused. One of the Scudders was yelling at her on my move where he was going to be after the game, and then multiple people stopped my with that sort of line “Oh, honey look, they are playing chess”, and “Oh my gosh, I think they are having some sort of competition!” (of course right next to us because it’s a small walkway).
16.Rd3? 16.Rd2 is the only way to draw from this position.
16…Qe5 Completely missed this move, but for some reason wasn’t thinking much anyway.
17.Bxf5?? I had spent quite a bit of time here, but I was going to do one last check to see whether 17.Be4? was better when Expert Daniel (her brother) stopped by the board for the third time on this same move, and I was beginning to feel dumb for taking so long. Actually, lots of people were stopping by, and then leaving so as not to block the narrow walkway, and I had to tune this, the loud music, and lots of background conversations out.
18….Qb6 In my mind, my king was still on c1 in this position, but her check had put my king on b1, so now it’s a mate threat which wins the piece. I don’t believe my blindfold analysis failed me, but I do believe that whenever I get too excitable (unfocused) I find it easy to base my moves on “hope chess”, and that is what continued to happen in this game until I finally got focused (and the crowd disperses after dinner rush-hour).
23.g5? This was another hope-chess move, as I already felt like resigning and played this in the hopes of her not taking with the queen, which she took less than half a minute to make. After this, I decided to dig in, if not for just to try and find my focus, which I did but it was too late here.
After the game, I thought I could hold with 17.Be4, but she had too many practical chances after 17…Qxb2, and 18…Bc3+, she was also instantly noticing the shots. With the queen on, there is a double-attack on every move, or a setup move which leads to a double-attack on the next move. She immediately saw at one point that I could not take a pawn because it would lose to a double-attack, and disconnecting the rooks was the same story. I wanted to trade my last bishop, but that leads to a double-attack or winning ending too. White has to win Black’s a-pawn straight away or it’s losing, and I had thought I could move my king and win it later.
Only 17.Kd2 is a try for a draw (starts out as -.5 by Houdini), and OTB I only saw 17…BxB, 18.cxB? Qxb2+, not noticing that I had 18.KxBd3, which I would have noticed had I gone over the three lines again (I was never in time-pressure). Still, I played this line multiple times against Houdini, even following it’s own recommendations, since I was blundering on virtually every move, and it turns out that Houdini can’t even hold this position against itself. Basically, the draw was to play 16.Rd2, win Black’s a-pawn for White’s e-pawn, shove the c-pawn up the board as fast as possible, give up an exchange and a perpetual so that Black can force a draw.
On reflecting, I remember that her brother had told her when I last beat her in this line how it is dangerous for White to win this pawn. It’s better for White to avoid getting into this …d5 line unless a draw is an acceptable result, and winning the pawn, while playable (certainly not taking the Ra8, however) is a bit questionable unless there is some deep(er) analysis behind it.
One of the problems with lack of focus, and excitability is that these qualities are unfortunate to have in dangerous positions where both sides have mutual mates and threats because the tendency is to only want to see your own threats unless you are really grounded and centered. Sara was seeing her threats, my threats, and how she could ignore my threats, and the music/noise/commotion didn’t seem to be having an effect on her whatsoever – certainly a seasoned tournament warrior.
Sara also said that she has fun playing from this …d5 position, which let me know that I probably wasn’t the first victim in this line, and I feel she’s won many times from it before. There is really nothing for Black to lose by playing this …d5 line, that I have determined, it even seems recommendable.
[Event “Thursdays Swiss”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Sara Herman”]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8.
Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O d5 10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. exd5 cxd5 12. Nxd5 Nxd5 13. Qxd5 Qc7 14.
Qxa8 Bf5 15. Qxf8+ Kxf8 16. Bd3 Qe5 17. Bxf5 Qxe3+ 18. Kb1 Qb6 19. b3 gxf5 20.
Rd3 Bf6 21. Rhd1 Qa5 22. g4 f4 23. g5 Qxg5 24. Rd8+ Kg7 25. R8d5 Qg2 26. R5d2
Qxf3 27. Rg1+ Kh6 28. Rd3 Qf2 29. Rh3+ Bh4 30. Rd1 Kg6 31. a4 f3 32. Kb2 Kg5
33. Rd3 Kg4 34. Rhxf3 Qxf3 35. Rxf3 Kxf3 36. b4 e5 37. c4 e4 38. a5 e3 39. b5
e2 40. b6 e1=Q 0-1