The leftover rust from yesterday. I knew 6.Ng5? was only equal, but I couldn’t figure out why OTB. I knew I should play 0-0, c3, d2-d4-d5 for an easy advantage, but then chose this line, thinking she might mishandle it, then I though “What are you doing? This is supposed to be a positional opening!” My only explanation is that I was still affected by yesterdays game. Mike has this come and get you style, so I was looking for something sharp right off the bat, and couldn’t switch gears from yesterday. Also, I hadn’t played any online blitz to shake off that game, either.
The Ruy Lopez sucks, if you leave well established theory, because then everything tends to end in a draw, barring gross blunders; much more so than in the Scotch or KG or etc. For some reason, I was thinking I’d lose maybe 4 rating points for a draw, but will lose 8 actually, by the time it gets rated. I hadn’t drawn in so long, but I’ve drawn with her a lot!
After I played 6.Ng5?, I suddenly saw the refutation 6…Nxd5, 7.Qf3 QxNg5, 8.QxNd5 Qg6 and …Bb7 =+. When she played 6…Nd4!, it had never occurred to me that she could play this move before capturing on d5, even though it looks like it should have been obvious in hindsight.
I got under 20 minutes and offered a draw, since I wasn’t going to avoid a repetition anyway. I considered 20.Re4, but the only thing to play for is a more probable loss, it feels. I look at continuations for many moves forward with Houdini, and it’s like dry as dust draw-land as far as the eye can see. You really have to follow your prep, and not wander off the path, when playing the Lopez as White. I was hoping she would play more adventurous, rather than playing the solid moves that she played that I was hoping she wouldn’t play. I felt lucky, as it was, that she played that strange …Rd7 move.
Part of me says that if you are going to play the Lopez (and somehow can’t play it at blitz speed), then may as well either be content with a high percentage of draws, or consider switching over to 1.d4. I mean, if your goal is to play solid, while still retaining some room for creativity, especially after going off-script, then 1.d4 fits the bill. 😉
Perhaps it’s much tougher than usual, not to play “flat”, when playing chess two nights in a row. I figure that must have at least something to do with it, as Daniel has drawn while playing far down (he plays Tuesdays in Denver), two rounds in a row!
One other thing to point out, and I didn’t want to use this as an excuse. I had looked at this position before and with 43 games in the DB, White has quite a high or at least equal winning percentage in all lines. I had glanced at this position and those stats before so I told myself, unfortunately, to dismiss this move. …Nd4! is actually a great move and the statistics are terribly misleading. This is the downside of “relying” on a database. Black is definitely better after …Nd4 as played in the game, in all White continuations. When I realized this it also made me think of the slogan some chess player recently said ( “You practice like you play” – GM Sokolov, I believe, although I’m sure he meant “You play like you practice.”)
8.d3 Master Josh Bloomer (2300) took one look at this position, said he liked it for White, and then said “I think you need to castle, then play Re1, get counterplay as quick as you can.” and he is right. 8.d3 is too slow (although it was Houdini’s first choice until I showed it the 8.0-0 line). After 0-0, and Re1, I may need to play Nc3 or d4 before I need to play d3. Another Sokolov axiom is that it’s the move after the first mistake that usually costs you (mistakes come in back to back moves). I was rattled, thinking that I probably wouldn’t find the best move, and would hunker down instead. It’s difficult to switch emotions at the board, and keep looking for a strong continuation. I did try to do that, but couldn’t hold out.
8.d3 The idea behind this move is that if she doesn’t play 8…NxBb3 right away, then I will defend the d5 pawn with c4. Houdini could care less about this idea and says that 8…Bc5, 9.c4 is -.5, for as much as you can trust Houdini. Houdini shows that after Black plays …bxc, dxc, for example, that White’s missing d-pawn gives Black a big attack on White’s kingside, and it’s like -.65 at least, and it doesn’t like Bxc4 in that line either even though Black saves the minor exchange and a pawn for the moment. So, my idea wasn’t so hot, and a chess Master’s instant take on the position was better than Houdini’s. It figures. hehe.
Incidentally, 8.Nc3 is met by 8…b4, and if 9.Nc3e4 h6.
An inspirational song by Journey, with amazing lyrics, was always one of my favorites by them.