Bravery in Chess

… is often like delayed gratification; you get rewarded somewhere later on down the line.  In our game tonight, Daniel was brave for facing a line I was perhaps more familiar with, but then again he is one of the bravest players I know.

Round 1

4…Nc6  I play this move here, as I do not yet want to determine where I want to place the dark-square bishop, on …e7 or …b4 for example.

8….Qf5  Most miniatures that I have seen where Black loses features 8….Qh5, but strangely enough the most popular line here is the move 8….Qa5, which I wasn’t aware of (although my database is stuffed with games of Class players’).

9…Rxe4.  9….Nxe4 is far more common.

If 10.Nh4?, then not 10….Qf6, 11. Nd5 Qd8 =+, but 10…Qc5! is -+, according to Houdini.

11…Rd8.  If 11…Bc5??, 12.g4! wins a piece, as given by Houdini.

12.Qa4+?!  At first, I thought this was forced, but to my chagrin I finally spotted 12.Qe5, so was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t played.  Actually 12.Qc4! is best and equal, a move probably neither of us spotted.  One good feature of this move is that the queen can play to f1, if I try taking his Re4.

13.Qa5??  Here, once again, it was a while before I spotted the move 13.g4! which I showed Daniel after the game.  He simply missed this idea, and thus the move (Andy Soltis calls it “super-luft” – …g5 or …g4, for example, in his book “What it takes to become a GM” or similarly titled).  If an Expert can miss a move/idea, then it goes to show that it can probably happen to most anyone.

So, the real question is “What happens after 13.g4?”  I flippantly suggested 13…Qc5? +-, never having given it any real thought, but perhaps most surprising is that Houdini suggests 13…Qxf2+, 14.bxQ is best, but in it’s best line still only gives Black as having an =+ advantage (while up two pawns in this line!).

I actually left the table at this point, since I knew I would have to find some response to 13.g4 in a blind-folded manner, but really I just ended up getting a Snapple lemonade/tea, and then visiting the restroom, both times sneaking a peek to see whether or not the move g4 was on the board!

It had also taken me an emabarassingly long time, luckily on Daniel’s time, to notice that 14.RxB+ QxRe6, 15.Qxb5+ c6, 16.Qf1! (the move which took me so long to find) which is only =+.  Instead, I was going to play 14…fxRe6,  and after 15.g4 bxQ, 16.gxQ Houdini says it’s +2.45 in Black’s favor, even though only up the exchange and a pawn.  You can’t count on an Expert missing a move like …g4 every day; so on the one hand I was very lucky in this game, but OTH it was still a well-deserved victory, I feel.

14.Bg5!  I realized that developing the bishop would be the only way to play on, but I was kind of surprised to see it, thinking he might choose to resign here.  At this point, I spent 20 minutes on 14….Qb7, but it was just as much a breather to steady my nerves, as I realized that I could go down from the lovely advantage of a whole rook, to just a piece for two pawns!  The surprising 14…Qb4! is +4 in Black’s favor, but both 14…Qc6 and 14…Qb7, which I was deliberating over, are +3 for Black.

16…Kc8 The only move!  I wish I could say that I had seen this accurately before, but I knew I would figure it out when I got to this point, as the previous move was really about calming my nerves.

18…QxQa7.  At first I considered 18…QxNb5, and thought I would lose my queen, then considered 18…Bc5, and felt the complications needless.  Both moves were 0.0 equal!  Just goes to show it’s never too late to throw away a won position!  Daniel said he saw some perpetuals here, much to his credit.

21.Re1.  As I realized, all moves here are hopeless for White.

23…Bc5.  Scary moment, as I reached out to play this move, the tip of my index finger, to my horror, touched and rocked the light bishop (I poked it, as my fingers are more used to moving boxes lately, than chess pieces), and then I quickly grabbed the dark-squared bishop and played the intended 23…Bc5.  Neither the TD, who was watching, nor Daniel noticed, but as she said afterwards accidents don’t count.  In the past, I have knocked over the king with my arm so many times when making a move.  I really need to learn to be careful how I reach for a piece, and now I think I know why some GMs of the past like Rubinstein, or maybe even Petrosian, don’t reach out with their index finger toward a piece they would like to move, and instead grab it with other fingers!

I did miss 24.Nb3, when I played 23…Bc5, but then saw that 24.Nb3 Bxf2+ would win a piece.  So here, Daniel chose the appropriate moment to resign.  I had at least 23 minutes remaining at the game’s end, as I had 28 minutes remaining after playing 21…Rd8, and had seen the game continuation even then, and verified it mostly on Daniel’s time.

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