I played on Wednesday in California in the last round of their two-month tournament. I got a new opponent, of course, who was nice and complimentary but also a bit chatty.
3…d5 I decided for a “favorable French” over a Sicilian defense, and was willing to get some practice in a technical game, in general.
7…Be7 I seriously considered 7…Qb6, but decided it might look a bit silly giving up doubled pawns so soon in the opening – this was the first of many favorable opportunities in this game that I let slip by.
13…Rfc8?! Each time I detected a threat, I reacted badly to it in this game. 13…cxd, 14.Nxd Nxd, 15.cxd Rfc8 is quite favorable for Black.
15…Rxc6! This was the sharper option. I saw that 15…bxN, 16.cxd c5, 17.Nf3 c4 looked quite promising for Black, but decided to go for more, knowing this line would require more accuracy on Black’s part.
16…dxc I played this move quickly, with the pawn sac next move in mind. I looked at 16…d3, 17.Bf3, and here 17…Ne4 is now strong, stopped considering at move 17.Bf3. Right after I moved, I noticed I had 17…Re6, where he said after the game that he was planning on playing 18.Be5, but I notice right away that I can grab the bishop pair with 18…Ng4, 19.BxNg4 BxB – which is favorable for Black.
17….Ne4 My longest think of the game, and i saw this move right away but did not want to resort to playing it. I saw 17…d4, 18.Bxd4 Rc2 (spent most of my time calculating 18…Rad8, 19.Nf3), 19.Bc3 Nf5, 20.Bd1 NxNc3, 21.BxR BxB and rejected it here, but I didn’t notice the intermezzo 21.Ne2+! winning – saving the knight. After this expenditure of time, he asked to know what I was thinking here after the game.
19….Bc5 at this point, the previous think had gotten to me, and I couldn’t rein in my chess common-sense. Actually, after his next move he said “This guy is good!” while a spectator was watching, and I starting shaking my head as I was having a difficult time focusing and the words had distracted me a bit – nothing worse that being flattered before or during a chess game, when it comes to maintaining the ability to concentrate. Nevetherless, it’s my fault for playing the moves that I did.
19…Bf6 was the other move I was considering, and it is correct here, play up the pawn, same colored bishops. I played this move hastily.
20…Bf5 This move is virtually incomprehensible, particularly considering that I knew I wanted White to play f3, and I also knew he would resond with 21.Bf3. After the game, 21…b5 appeared obvious, with his bishop going to the other side of the board, no engine required to point that one out. I had simply lost focus in the nervous tension of battle, and clock.
21…Rd6?? Obviously, 21…Rd8 was the move, I figured this miss out again without a computer. I visualized this move for three seconds in my mind before playing it, as the “visual blunder-check”, but this is too short, should spend at least ten seconds on a visual, after playing the move in one’s mind. Once I pressed the clock and wrote down the move, I looked up and saw b4 right away, and knew he’d play it as it was so obvious.
He offered me a draw once before I played 17…Ne4, and one which I accepted at the end of the game. I spent five minutes, then took the draw when I reached ten minutes remaining, but I wanted to play on and really felt he shouldn’t have offered it, but also felt I was losing.
Immediately after the game, he wanted to play on to see what would happen. Well, was winning of course, but I did trick him in a losing position and pull it out, so there is a decent chance I would have won by playing on. I had mixed feelings about accepting thee draw, and wasn’t thinking that a draw is “half a loss” (lost 14 rating points). I was prepared to play on and was a little disappointed about how it ended, but decided to be objective about it when I took the draw. That’s what draws are, sober objective judgments of the position. Draws don’t happen out of thin-air, most draws, and draws as a rule, are very deliberate decisions and actions.
Before the game, he said “Take it easy on me, I haven’t played in six months!”, but that is a bit of a fib, as I can see he played all seven rounds, with a 4 out of 7 score, and finished over 1400.
I’m on an 8 game winning streak in blitz on lichess, since this unfortunate draw. Spending quality-time on all moves is something difficult to build the discipline for, but it’s a goal to work toward. Stronger technical chess is still my goal when playing.