The mating-game is a four round tournament, played yearly. I missed the first two rounds on the 4th of July, and wanted to get in this opportunity for some classical rated play. The time control is G/45, d/10, so it wasn’t going to be pretty, and indeed it wasn’t!
Jeff has clobbered me many times in the past, over the years. The opening was rather adventurous, and the last couple moves may not be accurate, yet was descriptive of what happened. He made an exchange sac on c6 that Houdini didn’t consider, but liked, then I blundered an exchanged and was lost when he practically had to set up the blunder for me that I was looking to exploit. In time-pressure, I thought he would claim a repetition, but he didn’t, and later he said it was because he wasn’t keeping score (we both had stopped keeping score for many moves, but I had 1 second left on my clock for the last 25 moves or so). Anyway, he finally dropped his rook, then I was up a queen and three pawns for bishop and pawn, closing in on the mate, when he flagged while looking for a way to stalemate the position.
Round 3 had taken it’s toll in a way. I drank a Dr. Pepper at the start of this game, but never got the energy back that I started game 1 with. Mark played 23…BxBg2, which I was expecting, and immediately offered a draw. He had around 38 seconds and I 2.5 minutes, although I was at 3.5 minutes the move before.
I spent two minutes considering the draw offer, realizing that although I wanted to play on and this seemed like it would be a fun time-scramble, this was also going to affect the regular rating. Well, from the past few years at this club, I have been up to my eyeballs in “moral victories” where I lost a ton of rating points, so I kept this in mind.
When he offered the draw, I made the mistake of looking at the moves that I wasn’t going to look at, instead of the line I was actually going to play. For example 24.exd6 Qxd6?? loses, but …Bxd6 is equal. I should have focused only on the 24.QxBg2 line, which I was planning on blitzing out. A big part of the problem, besides fatigue, and lack of skill to cope with the situation in the time given, was that I felt like this position was interesting because it was so experimental, and I would have to figure it out OTB, but the time thing got in the way and this part was predictable.
In the end, I simply didn’t know what was going on in the position. For example, after 24.QxBg2 dxe5, 25.Nd4-c6! is winning, and I did not see this move even after looking at this position for a minute after seeing Houdini’s eval. He said he was worried about 25.Nh6+, and I convinced him that it was nothing, and he said he probably would have played 24….dxe5 (after I basically sold him on it). Actually, I think there is a good chance he would have played 23…Kh8, to which I’m sure I would have quickly played 24.e5xd6, which looks great, but it only +=; again 24.Nc6 is the move, and here I would not have seen it because there was no reason to look so hard for this move.
Of all players, Mark is the player I least want to go into time-pressure with. Mark makes instant evaluations of positions, as he told me he would never take that pawn on e5, too dangerous – which is right. I traded into a middle/endgame and he was crushing me, and totally outplaying me in the post-mortem. If I had seen this Nc6 move OTB, I would have played on with under a minute on my clock, no question, but I simply couldn’t figure out how I would continue other than I had calculated lines that were equal. With a longer time-control there is no way the game would have ended here, but I had a foreboding feeling that something like this would happen to our game.
My rating went up from 1832, and it should be around 1855 after this tournament gets rated tomorrow. My play may not look much better, but I kept my confidence high enough to avoid “moral victories” i.e., losses, lately. The tough part of quicker time-controls is the next game, as in you play more than one game a day when you speed up the time-controls. We played a rated blitz tournament, me, Paul, Jeff, and Mark after the games were over. I lost all three, two of them on “finger-fehlers” where I resigned after touching the wrong piece. I wasn’t getting outplayed so much as I have a harder time coping with blitz, in general, than others at my rating or higher. Also, my draw with Mark had demoralized my competitive spirit to some extent. I felt rather dejected from my performance as I left the club, particularly from the two rated game and especially the last one, although objectively perhaps it wasn’t so horrible, and was actually positive in the sense of the outcome, but it could have been better, no question.
Going over the final position with Houdini, trying to guess the move quickly, showed how amazingly blind I was. I had control of both the long light and the long diagonal, and I had a safe vertical, the g-file with no counter-pin against my own king there, and couldn’t calculate the tactics quickly. OTB, because the bishops had come off just then, in my mind I was still thinking my king position was exposed – oddly, Mark exposed this in the post-mortem by getting his queen to g6, but it’s ridiculous that I should allow anything like that with good play of my own.
Missing all these shots is like a good reason I could quite competitive chess, but I’m also reminded that this is why my rating is built on longer time-controls. At blitz, rapid, I still don’t have these quick instincts down. For all that training I’ve done on CT-Art, to try to get me to see simple tactics quickly, I’m still not seeing them quickly, and I could feel the difference between having someone tell you there is a tactic that works, and not knowing that. But even when I’m told there’s a tactic, sometimes I see it under 10 seconds, but sometimes it takes me a minute or two, or longer, which still isn’t quick enough for blitzing out a game. Most stuff _isn’t_ pattern recognition, unless you have some remarkably consistent opening repertoire, which isn’t something I have.