1…d5 I normally play 1…e5, but wanted to try a new tact.
3…c5 3…Bf5 is also a line.
12…Ne8?! This move isn’t a blunder, but for one of the few if only times, I simply could not come up with a defense that I felt worked. It seemed I was losing in every line I looked at, though I knew this must be impossible. I was in this analysis-paralysis stage. My blitz move was to play 12…Bb7, which ironically is best, but I felt his attack was coming, and I could somehow do nothing to prevent it. It was a terrible feeling. I spent 40 minutes, then made moves I felt would lose, all because I didn’t want to eventually flag and I needed to give him a chance to blunder, so I eventually just played moves I felt was dead-certain to lose. Never done this with so much time spent and remaining on my clock before.
Apparently, it is still possible to play 12…Nd7 here, and then either 13…f6 (which was my original idea, but I felt it would take too many defenders from the kingside) or 13…Bb7. Even after the game, it looked hopeless for Black to both of us after 12..Nd7, 13.Rh3 NxN, 14.Qh5 h6, 15.BxNe5 f6, 16.Qg4 Qe8! 17.Qxe6 Bd7, 18. Qxd5 BxNh3! This is the part that got missed, or if we saw it we said something like “Oh, the rook can always be put on g3.” This is an easy mistake in analysis to make, not to consider lines as actual lines, and instead assume the attacker can configure their pieces however, in every variation, to avoid exactly what happens.
13…Bf6?? Like I said, I was now adamant that I would play a losing move just so that I could punch the clock and give him a chance to go wrong. Crazy. 13…Nf6 is best, which I felt I should have played right after making my move, only increasing the insanity of the situation for me.
13…d4 is another pretty line that I was planning to play but couldn’t calculate right. Actually, Black’s light-bishop should be put away first, but here is a line 13…d4, 14.Qh5 Nf6, 15.Qh4 h6!, and now if 16.e4?, which was what he wanted to play, then 16…Nxe4! (hitting the queen).
16…Be7?? 16…BxNe5 is a better try, but still lost.
17.Ng4!! Missed this move. I am dead-lost now. 18.NxN+?? I hoped correctly! jk. I had calculated 18.Nxh6+ (an obvious move to me) Kh7, 19.Nxf7+ Kg8, but completely overlooked 19.Ng5+! Kh8, 20.Nf7+ Kg8, 21.Qh8 mate.
19…Re8 Although I did manage to find something to save the game, this is too clumsy. Black is actually fine after 19…Be7, 20.g5 Be8!, 21.gxh6?? f5!! trapping the queen. Talk about sick defenses.
22.Qh4? 22.Qh7+! is winning, as ties Black down positionally in a way that cannot be afforded, but it’s difficult to know that OTB.
24…Kd7?? I was going to optimistically play 24…gxf!, but he spent longer than I expected on his last move. I was down to a minute and half, and used this extra time to get down on myself and start considering that his pieces were more active and his king better, when actually the reverse is true after 24…gxf! There are some really long and interesting lines I could show here, how the f7 pawn will be poisoned in this line versus the one in the game. I saw my blunder as soon as I had moved, and glibly played on, still feeling defeated.
32…Qf7? I strangely wanted to play the correct move 32…e5! for some unknown reason, but felt that was too optimistic, and continued to play my hang-dog chess until he was able to promote a pawn. Being on the defensive all game, and not knowing exactly how to defend, did I number on my head, and I think my feeling of defeatism was just as central to the result as Sam’s strong play (in a system that he already knows very well, as it’s all I’ve known him to play) 1.b3 (Nimzo-Larsen Attack) or 1…b6 (Owen’s Defense).
Ironically, before this game I was still demoralized that I didn’t make it into the Championship section for the City Speed Championship qualifier the day before, for the first time. A lot of blitz specialists or blitz-only types showed up, and it was a strong field. I didn’t do so badly on the board as I did on the clock. The following Tuesday, I went 7/8 in the Challenger section to win 2nd place. my only loss was to Supreme King, who used to play at Chess Palace in Long Beach in the 90’s (we both recognized one another). Supreme also lives in Fountain. I lost to him, flagged with three seconds on my clock with mate in two, or two queens against him. We talked and played two games afterward, and both got a win and a loss.
[Event “Classical Wednesdays”]
[Site “Club Chess!!”]
[White “Sam Bridle”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[TimeControl “G/90, Inc 30”]
1. b3 d5 2. Bb2 Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bb5 Bd7 6. O-O e6 7. Bxc6 Bxc6 8. Ne5
Rc8 9. d3 Be7 10. f4 O-O 11. Nd2 b6 12. Rf3 Ne8 13. Rh3 Bf6 14. Qh5 h6 15. Ndf3
d4 16. e4 Be7 17. Ng4 Nf6 18. Nxf6+ Bxf6 19. g4 Re8 20. g5 g6 21. Qxh6 Bg7 22.
Qh4 Kf8 23. Re1 Ke7 24. f5 Kd7 25. f6 Rh8 26. Ne5+ Kc7 27. Qg3 Rxh3 28. Qxh3
Bf8 29. Nxf7 Qe8 30. Qg3+ Kb7 31. Nd6+ Bxd6 32. Qxd6 Qf7 33. Rf1 Rh8 34. Bc1
Qc7 35. Bf4 Qxd6 36. Bxd6 Kc8 37. Be5 Rf8 38. f7 Be8 39. fxe8=Q+ Rxe8 40. Rf6
Rg8 41. Rxe6 Kd7 42. Rf6 Ke7 43. Kg2 1-0
6.Bd3 This was a variation that I always wanted to try, since about six years ago, but never did. Masters Gunnar Andersen and Brian Wall have both played this line as White, although Bd3 could be premature here, as Black can immediately play 6…e5.
7.Nb3 I didn’t like this move at first, as my natural instinct was to play 7.Nxc6, and that is the #1 move in DB, but I felt it gives away too much tension, after 7.NxN bxN, 8.0-0 e5.
8…Be7 Mark actually spent a long time here. I calculated 8…d5, 9.e5 d4, 10.Ne2, then Be4 can be a follow-up, but after the game move, this continuation no longer exists.
9.Qf3 I was going to play 9.Qe2, but Mark took so long that I found myself liking this move better.
13.Rac1 13.Rfc1 would have lead to more interesting play. 13.a3 would have been better, so as not to commit this rook on c1, prematurely.
15. Qg4 Taking advantage in the lull to probe for a weakness. Getting in a4 is a more thematic idea.
25.a5 Played quickly, confidently, thinking I would now attack on the kingside, but this is a mistake. 25.axb was actually my best chance for an advantage in the game. I did consider trading on b5 and getting a rook to a7, but time-pressure was starting to play a role, and it effects my mood somehow, makes me more bipolar.
30.g4?? Played as a guess that I wouldn’t need to play 30.Kg1 first, and that he wouldn’t take a break from his running around like a rabit to actually attack me. This is where blitz chess can have a bad habit of crossing over into a real game. You just start injecting psychology into your game without realizing it. 30…d4, followed by 31…Nxe5+ picks off the Bd3.
38…Rch8. Here, Mark made his second draw offer of the game (with 2 min 40 sec remaining on my clock, and 1 min 30 sec on his), and this time I accepted it. I figured the likely conclusion was 39.Rh1 RxR, 40.RxR RxR (notice there is no second time-control here at move 40), 41.KxR Qh8+, 42.Kg2 Qh4, 43.Qg3 QxQ, 44.KxQ g5! a move which I saw OTB, but in the post-mortem I got the sense that he had not seen this, and probably would not have played it without spending time. I figured this line was most likely a draw. In fact, it did feel better for White but that Black should comfortably have sufficient resources.
However, I was also concerned that he might keep queens on in our mutual time-pressure, and this is why I agreed to the draw. After 41…g5! in the above line, I was worried that he could win my e5 pawn. Actually, the e5 pawn is poisoned, but I did not know this at the time. Mark is great about treating pawns as being poisoned in time-pressure, but I’m more skeptical. In any case, I did not want to risk it as I could not calculate these variations adequately and correctly in time.
For example, after 41…g5, 42.Kg2 (the natural looking 42.Bd4?! is a mistake, as …f5 will come)…gxf, 43.Qxf (with the queen on f4, the pawn on e5 is now poisoned). For example, 43…Qxe5??, 44.Bd4 skewers, and 44…NxBd4 removes the protection of Black’s queen. 43…Nxe5?? is even more difficult to refute, as after 44.Bd4 Bd6, 45.g5 f5, now after 46.gxf Kf7 (it’s already getting hard to visualize the pawn transformation here) Black can hold, but 47.Qh2! Kg8, 48.Qh6, and White’s invasion will cost Black a piece for two pawns (even Houdini doesn’t see this ahead of time)
However, even more demonstrative, but trickier to find is 43…Nxe5??, 44.Ng3! f6, 45.Nh5+ Kf7, 46.Bd4 because the f6 square is such a weak target, White is winning here.
[Event “Classical Wednesdays”]
[Site “Club Chess!!”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Mark McGough”]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Nb3 e6 8. f4
Be7 9. Qf3 Qc7 10. Be3 Nb4 11. O-O d5 12. e5 Nd7 13. Rac1 b5 14. a3 Nc6 15.
Qg4 g6 16. Ne2 Nb6 17. Ra1 Na4 18. Bc1 Bd7 19. c3 Nc5 20. Nxc5 Bxc5+ 21. Kh1
Rc8 22. b4 Be7 23. Be3 Bf8 24. a4 Qb7 25. a5 Ne7 26. Rac1 Nc6 27. Qg5 Be7 28.
Qh6 Bf8 29. Qh3 Be7 30. g4 Kd8 31. Bb6+ Ke8 32. Kg1 Qb8 33. Qg3 Kf8 34. Qe3 h5
35. h3 hxg4 36. hxg4 Kg7 37. Kg2 Rh4 38. Qf3 Rch8 1/2-1/2
What I came away with after this game is that I need to save more time because I need to play more moves, figure at least 60 moves, to have a full chance to beat a player of Mark’s caliber. Back in the days of second time-controls, this would not be an issue, but with G/90, Inc 30, each extra minute one spends on a middlegame move is a minute subtracted from a likely endgame move. Paul Anderson usually spends half as much time as I do, to make twice as many moves.