So it looks like I won’t be able to make it for round 3 as I am flying back to CA for a week, next Wednesday! 🙂
The saying in the title is from “A stitch in time, saves nine.”
Incidentally, if 7…Ndb4, then not 8.a3 d5, 9.Qe2 (9.exd6?? Bf5) is only equal. The move that gives White the advantage after 7…Ndb4 is 8.Bb5! a6 (…d6??, 9.QxNb4!), 9.Ba4, and it’s like a 40 move long, forcing line, one of the longest I’ve seen, that White/Black must know or veering off can lead to a losing position for Black at least. I let Dean know he might want to try 7…Nb6 next time, as that is what I saw in the CO Open tournament when I played this line.
10…Qd8?? It wasn’t difficult to sense that this must be game-over. We both missed 10…Qb4, 11.BxNc7 Qxb2, attacking both Ra1, and Nc3 with check. It makes more sense, given that he did not spend enough time on this move, that we did not find this saving path. It’s surprising that after 10…Qb4, 11.QxQ NxQ, 12.BxN7 Nxc2+, White wins two pieces for rook and pawn and Houdini gives this a blase +=. I saw this line OTB, and figured it must be +-/+=.
12.BxNc7 At the board, I felt the most principled move must be 12.Ne5, but didn’t know why. I saw 12.Ne5 (must be captured as it threatens to take the Bd7) NxN, 13.QxN Rg8, but when I saw Houdini’s eval score, I immediately noticed that 14.QxNc7 must be the move. That’s funny, I missed that I was winning a piece on move OTB, on move 14! This could have been an even shorter game. 😉 Have to say, I felt something may be there, but could already see that 12.BxNc7 should be a concrete win.
13.Nd5 I was going to play 13.Nb5, and spent most of my time on that move, but then changed my mind after a second go-around because it looked a safer way to win, primarily on the variation 13.Nd5 Qd6, 14.Nb6 Bf5 looked like a strong, safe advantage for White, but I missed that Black has …f5 in both of these lines; this move simply escaped my attention. I saw in the line 13.Nb5 that …Qa5+, 14.b4 should be losing for Black, and was only really worried about 13…Qb6, 14.Nd6+ Kd8, 15.Nc7+ Kc7 (if 15…Ke8, 16.NxRa8 Qxb2, 17.Nxg6 hxNg6, 18.Qxg6+) 16.NxRa8 Qxb2 looked messier than necessary. But, why was I worried about his counterplay there, as even OTB, I could tell it was non-existent(?)
16.Qc4+ I wanted to play 16.Bc4+ here, but just as I had finished playing 15.Nf6+, I noticed that he could play 16…Kg7 in that line. I didn’t realize that 16.Bc4+ does work, as 16…Kg7, 17.Qd3 Qxb4+, 18.c3 queen moves, then 19.Nxd7 wins a piece – it’s funny how easy it is to be scared off by a single, meaningless check (17…Qxb4+), under the ticking clock.
I just want to say that if you think this game has to end like an Alcoa NFL presentation “Alcoa presents, fantastic finishes….”, it’s not true. During the game, I was considering playing the lowly, non-committal 15.Qh4, and then apparently it is best for Black to simply give up a piece with 15…Nxb4, 16.Qxb4 QxQ, 17.NxQ. Naturally, I would have expected to see 15….Qd8, but when I saw Houdini’s eval, I correctly guessed 16.b5 Na5, 17.Qd4 Rg8, but here figured only 18.Ng5 (still over +1), not realizing the precious king pin is back on with 18.Qe5, with the idea of for example 18…Kf7, 19.Ng5+ Ke8, 20.Nf6++. So, the more plausible 18…Bg7, 19.Nc7+ (easy, instinctive move to look at) with the simple idea line being 19…Kf7, 20.Qd5+ (…Be6 drops Qd8) d6, 21.Qxd7+ wins the Bd7.