My first round opponent was a no-show for the tournament, so that I got a one point bye. I was supposed to play someone named Rahul Sampanarimiah. So, Rahul, if you’re listening out there, you would have played me had you had attended! hehe.
The first two rounds were played at G/90, d/5. On the five-second delay, in the USA, one does not have to keep score if either player is under 5 minutes left. This game went on for more moves. He dropped the exchange, and I gave up Black’s c-pawns for White’s d-pawn. He got a rook on the 7th rank, threatening to checkmate me. My king was wide-open, I had to defend with my queen on f6. He felt that we were repeating the position, which we were, and offered a draw, and with 7 seconds remaining on my clock did not hesitate to accept it.
My friend Alexander also lost to this player, and we found out from another person that Stephen has been studying chess three hours a night for the past two years. He gained a hundred points from this tournament.
We had played once before, but I hadn’t remembered him somehow, maybe because he looks exactly like someone I knew in US Army bootcamp back in 1987, Brian Bishop. Brian and I once ran around the track together during a physical training, seeing how long we could both play blindfold a King’s Gambit game.
21…NxRf8 My intuition told me right away that 21…NxBc5 was strongest and winning, up two pawns, almost played it, but at the last moment thought it would look silly not to take the rook. Taking the rook was winning too, but quite complicated, as I had suspected.
This round was played at 9AM, and I simply wasn’t in my best physical shape. Before the tournament, I said that playing Sunday at 9AM would be more of a struggle than playing the first two rounds on the five-second delay. Actually, the delay was more of a struggle, but I couldn’t put a normal amount of effort into this game. With 11 minutes remaning on my clock, I did not know my opponent’s rating, and did not think he would repeat the position three times.
I saw that White could play, after 23…h5 – which is what I was going to play, had I continued – 24.Rb1 or 24.Re1 or 24.Nf3 or 24.g4. 24.g4 was the move that worried me most. I felt this move shouldn’t work, but it took me half an hour after the game to find both it’s refutation, and a solid continuation for Black. My head was swimming too much by the game’s end.
So, if White does play 24.g4 after 23…h5, then, computer eval aside, a human can get into big trouble as Black if White is permitted to play gxh…gxh, with Nh2-f3-g5 to follow.
However, I did find that 24…hxg, 25.Nxg Rah8! (too tired to see the long-move, I guess) was the refutation of the g4 idea. I also found the idea of …Ra8-d8-d7-e7, after first wondering what, when, and where I should put the knight. As the game ended, I thought I should have tried to get my …Ne7, but g4 limits it I figured. Then I thought about …Na5, which is great if White plays Rb1, and then thought of maneuvering to Ne6. I guess I woke up to the power of my rook too late, I was simply worried that he would grab the e-file with Re1, whereupon my rook would be some kind of shut-in.
I should have gotten to the site before 9am, and tried to find out my opponent’s rating. On Saturday, Buck didn’t have player ratings posted, but on Sunday morning after the game I saw he had now posted them on the wall. Either way, some of these lower-players were wicked under-rated. I found out that the opponent in this game was FIDE rated 1600, a friend said, and he gained 200 points USCF during this tournament.
Another player I had never seen before. Coleman could win two different “Under” prizes if he had won this game. I completely missed his …Qb4 move. Luckily, he got his queen trapped. I had seen that he could not take the c2 pawn, (on Qa3, I was going to capture on b7) but it was a good blindfold exercise because at first I thought that 15.Bd3 would undefend the Nc3 from my queen, which it does, but that only means he wins a piece on c3 at the cost of his queen! Btw, blindfolding is part visual, part logic, it makes a person use both when done right.
I was tempted to play the easier 16.BxQ or 16.Qe3 Bh6, 17.BxQ BxQ, but I didn’t want to let myself off the hook after having glibly drawn my round 4 game, and most likely killing any chances of winning a prize (which turned out to be the case).