The imponderables

Round 3 City Championship

Once upon a time, it seemed essential for me to have nervous energy before a game, and so I had a cherry pepsi on the way, but I was only far too nervous in the first part of the game, and too amped to quietly look for moves in the second part of it, which is part of why this game came to an abrupt end.  Once again the playing hall was hot for me (last time, I turned down the temp during the game after complaining about it a few times).  It is really more about me, though, because I get too nervous when I’m hot, when playing, and vice-versa.

I had 17 minutes at the end of the game, and my opponent close to an hour.  I had the advantage, but this is just the type of technical position, ala Magnus Carlsen, that I prefer to avoid.  I thought during the game that if there were a second time-control, that I would play on to reach it, but I did not want this type of game to be decided in my time-pressure.  It was really difficult for me to figure on how to go about proceeding in it, I have to admit, so did look at it with a computer for a while.

After the game, some Experts went over my game and easily converted the a-pawn, and won it for Black.  Expert Dan Avery, the highest seed, told me that the a-pawn is worth a piece.  Well, I got some good chess lessons from the Expert and from 1900 Peter.  This type of position is like a hole in my game, where one side is set to convert a pawn in the next 10-15 moves.  I feel lost in it, so it is good to practice it even if that’s only after the game.  This is not the first time that Mike has taken me into a technical position where I found it difficult to proceed correctly.

Me and Mike were both 2/2 going into this third round.  In the previous round Mike won against an Expert.  Still, this was no reason for me to play without keeping my cool.  This happens to me quite a bit, I get nervous in third rounds after going two out of two, but I am also too nervous of a player, in general.  Need to find a way to play more calmly.

[Event “City Championship”]
[Site “CSCC”]
[Date “2018.10.16”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Mike Evars Smith”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “1893”]
[ECO “C55”]
[EventDate “2018.10.16”]
[TimeControl “G/90, Inc 30”]
[WhiteElo “1598”]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. e5 d5 6. Bb3 Ne4 7. O-O Bc5 8. c3
dxc3 9. Qxd5 Qxd5 10. Bxd5 cxb2 11. Bxb2 Nxf2 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Rxf2 Bxf2+ 14.
Kxf2 Bf5 15. Nbd2 O-O 16. Nd4 Bd7 17. Rc1 Rab8 18. Ba3 Rfe8 19. e6 Bxe6 20.
Nxc6 Rb6 21. Ne7+ Kh8 22. Rxc7 Ra6 23. Bc5 Rxa2 24. Be3 Rd8 25. Ke1 Ra1+ 26.
Kf2 Ra2 27. Ke1 Ra1+ 28. Kf2 1/2-1/2

Advertisements

Time-Pressure Experience

Round 2 City Championships

My opponent in this game has a provisional rating.  He played Peter for his first rated game, and lost, so it gave him a 1400 rating.  Well, in round 1, this time he won against Peter, who is 1940 rated, so I knew that I had my work cut out for me.

It’s funny, I played the Bb5 Sicilian again, and haven’t even gotten to seriously studying yet.  Lately, I’ve been studying all kinds of other oddball openings.  I played this opening against Larry, who was an Expert a year ago, and won with it last month.  I played it tonight, spur of the moment decision.  Other than that, I haven’t played it OTB or online in over a decade.  Such a strange decision, but the C3 Sicilian is equal, and I have looked at quite a few of RP’s games.  😉  I was just happy to see the early …Nc6 move on move two, and figured it was a good time to learn some more about this opening.

I was late, but only had 11 minutes off my clock when I started – forgot to get gas, and had to stop off the freeway to get some, and put air in my tires.

Early in the middlegame, I figured that Ron had gone wrong, and White was winning, but later I blundered with 20.Bxa6??, and saw my blunder as soon as I started taking my hand away from the piece.  Naturally, I had been looking at something else when I played this, was looking at trying to trap his queen with 20.Bc3 Ba4 (found this, late), 21.Qf3  with Ra1 coming, but he can extricate his queen with Qb3, and it appeared he had gotten out of trouble.  Well, of course there are other moves, but I simply hadn’t blunder-checked that one that I played.

After this, I was trying to hang in there, and then he laid that creative combination on e4 on me, which surprised me.  This is when I knew exactly how good a player that my opponent was.

28…Qc5!  Surprised again.  I figured that he would probably win after 29…Qc1+, not just draw, so I didn’t allow it.

31…Qf6?  I was pleasantly surprised to see this move, as I figured that 31…Qe6 was basically an easy win for Black.

33…Bf8  At first, I figured that this move was simply winning, but he took so long to play it that I was inspired to find an antidote.  So, I found and played my move shortly after seeing …Bf8 played.

Now comes the strange phase.  I guess I got hypnotized by his clock, as he was repeating the position with 4 seconds when he moved (then, he would get his 30 seconds and repeat this procedure).  I didn’t want the draw, but did look up at him at one point to see if he wanted it, but Ross was still studying the board, so I was quite okay with this.  Meanwhile, I would play my moves with around 50 seconds left, because I do like some kind of buffer in case something goes wrong.

Anyway, you see how the game played out.  I saw g3 the first time, but not h4.  For some reason I kept looking at the terrible f4, even though I could plainly see that it does little more than drop a pawn.

 

[Event “City Championship”]
[Site “CSCC”]
[Date “2019.10.09”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Ross Inman”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “1476”]
[ECO “B31”]
[EventDate “2019.10.09”]
[TimeControl “G/90, Inc 30”]
[WhiteElo “1893”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. c3 d6 6. Re1 Bd7 7. d4 cxd4 8. cxd4
a6 9. Bf1 Qc7 10. Nc3 Nf6 11. h3 O-O 12. Bg5 h6 13. Be3 e6 14. Rc1 b5 15. d5
Ne5 16. Nxe5 dxe5 17. Nxb5 Qa5 18. Nc7 Rac8 19. Bd2 Qxa2 20. Bxa6 Rxc7 21. Rxc7
Qxa6 22. Bc3 Ba4 23. Qf3 Qd6 24. Ra7 Bc2 25. Rb7 Nxe4 26. Rxe4 Bxe4 27. Qxe4
exd5 28. Qa4 Qc5 29. Qd7 d4 30. Rc7 Qb6 31. Rb7 Qf6 32. Bb4 Rd8 33. Qc7 Bf8 34.
Rb6 Qg5 35. Rb7 Qf6 36. Rb6 Qg5 37. Rb7 Qf6 38. Rb6 Qh4 39. Rb7 Qf6 40. Rb6 Qg5
41. Rb7 Qf6 42. Rb6 Qh4 43. g3 Qg5 44. h4 Bd6 45. Rxd6 Ra8 46. hxg5 1-0

Botched Endgame

Round 1

5.d4  Not the most challenging line, but I had an idea.

7.Nc3  My head is not in the game yet.  My idea was to play the line I had played against Daniel.  7.a3, with 8.Bd3, even thought about it, but somehow played this instead.

8…Qa5?  I had never seen this move before, and thought it bad, but could not come up with a refutation.

9.NxNd5  In my mind, I suffered a hallucination here, thinking that if Black took with the queen, that I would win the Bb4, as if my queen were forming a battery from e1.  Anyway, I looked at 9.Rc1, and should have played it, also 9.a3 is good, but I even miscalculated this OTB and saw how it worked almost as soon as I noticed the computer’s eval on it.  Just wasn’t firing on all cylinders yet.

10.a3  Again, plugging this in, it makes sense that 10.BxB is a better move, as it decentralizes his knight.

12.b4  I knew this was bad almost as soon as I played it, still too afraid to make 12.Rc1 work, which it does easily 12…Na5, 13.Qe3.

24…Rfd8?  The mistake I had been hoping for.

25.Nc4?  I needed to take on c8 first, to ensure that a rook would be on that square as a target.

25…a6?  He misses, as did I, the creepy looking but effective …d6!  Taking away this future outpost from my knight.

29.Rc8  I figured there had to be a stronger move than playing this right away, and 29.a4 and 29.Kf2 are equally good.

31.Nxb6?  I strongly considered 31.Be2, but didn’t realize that this was so necessary.  Gifting him the d4 pawn was drawing (I thought he might even take the h2 pawn instead).

33…Nc2?? I was hoping for this blunder, as I could see that 33…Kf7 looked equal, and is.

38.Ke3??  Paul had spent so much time on his last move, that instead of playing the winning 38.Bb7, I decided to be sneaky and played this blunder instead.  As soon as he had moved, this was the last thought that I had had in my head, so that I played it immediately, not even blunder-checking the same obvious reply 38…Nd5+, such that I played 39.a5, and he said “You’re in check”.  I didn’t know if I could still win it after this, but I knew instantly that I had blown the win, if there was one there, and let out a sigh.

I’ve examined quite a few lines with Stockfish, and there are tricky forks that obviate many a strategy.  The most direct line for a win is 38.Bb7 (dare I say the only winning move, this is what I found out by going deep into the other lines, anyway) Nd5 (here I had noticed, OTB, that taking the knight would be a draw), and here simply 39.a5 Kd6, and now for some reason it’s tempting to play 40.a6?, but 40.b6! is the win, forming a cage against his king.  It’s always important to remember that, outside of a forced pawn-race, the king and then other piece(s) become the major targets, such that one should aim to lock the opponent’s pieces out of play, unless it’s still necessary to snipe pawns.

Continuing the line above, 40.b6 Nxb6, 41.axN Kc5, 42.Bxe4 Kxb6, and now the seemingly natural 43.Bxh7?? would still draw, as the Black king can get back to h8 in time.  Correct is 43.Kf3, Kg3 or Ke3 because the important thing is not the pawns, but to block out the Black king!

Time-pressure makes fools of us all, and leaves us to guesswork.  This was my biggest mistake of the game, I was playing under 2 minutes while my opponent had an hour and 2 minutes, and these were the times basically at the very end of the game!

[Event “Strong Swiss”]
[Site “Club Chess!!”]
[Date “2018.10.04”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Paul Covington”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “1831”]
[ECO “B22”]
[EventDate “2018.10.04”]
[TimeControl “G/90, Inc 30”]
[WhiteElo “1893”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c3 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. d4 cxd4 6. cxd4 Nc6 7. Nc3 Bb4 8. Bd2
Qa5 9. Nxd5 Qxd5 10. a3 Bxd2+ 11. Qxd2 b6 12. b4 Bb7 13. Rc1 O-O 14. Qe3 Ne7
15. Bc4 Qe4 16. O-O Nf5 17. Qxe4 Bxe4 18. Nd2 Bb7 19. Nb3 Rac8 20. Bd3 Nh4 21.
f3 f5 22. exf6 gxf6 23. Nd2 f5 24. Bb5 Rfd8 25. Nc4 a6 26. Nd6 Rxc1 27. Rxc1
Bxf3 28. Bxa6 Bxg2 29. Rc8 Rxc8 30. Nxc8 Be4 31. Nxb6 Nf3+ 32. Kf2 Nxd4 33.
Nxd7 Nc2 34. Nf6+ Kf7 35. Nxe4 fxe4 36. b5 Ke7 37. a4 Nb4 38. Ke3 Nd5+ 39. Kxe4
Nc3+ 40. Ke5 Nxa4 41. h4 Nb6 42. Bb7 Nd7+ 43. Kd4 Kd6 44. Bc6 Nb6 45. Be4 h6
46. Bc6 Nc8 47. Kc4 Nb6+ 48. Kd4 Nc8 49. Ke4 Ne7 50. Be8 Ng8 51. Kf4 Nf6 52.
Bc6 e5+ 53. Kf3 Kc5 54. Ke3 Kb6 55. Kd3 Kc5 56. Ke3 1/2-1/2

City Championship

Round 1

In the opening, it first appeared we were headed for a Four Knights, but then it became a Four Knights Scotch.  In both cases, I was planning to play …Bb4.

8.0-0?!  Technically, this is a bit of a mistake by Black.  8.exd5 is the correct move here, and the reason why is that otherwise the e4 pawn remains a target for Black.  If instead, 8.e5? Ng4, 9.f4 Bc5, 10.Qf3 Nf2, 11.Na5 Bd4 is a real problem for White, and Black is better.

8…0-0  This was my longest think of the game.  The best line for Black here is 8….BxN, 9.bxB dxe, 10.Bc4 Qd6! (this idea, I did not see, came close to playing this line though), 11.Qd4 0-0, and now if 12.Bg5 Be6!, 13.BxN QxQ, 14.BxQ BxBc4, and Black is better.

10…g5  Stockfish at first prefers 10…BxN!?, 11.bxB dxe, 12.BxN QxB, 13.Bxe Qxc3.  Black is up a doubled c-pawn =+, and it’s very close to equality, but when it sees the …g5 line being played, it changes it’s mind and gives this a higher score for Black.

14.Qe2  This makes sense in that it allows White to play f4, but an important resource that I believe we both missed was 14.Qd4, which blocks the diagonal to White’s king, which would allow f4 to be played.

14…Nd5.  14…Rfe8 was my first instinct, and is in fact also a very strong move for Black, and in this line, the 15…Qc5 move is more incisive than in the line I played.

15.Qd2  At the board, I was worried about how to deal with 15.Qh5 Kg7, 16.f4 for example, but here simply 16….f5 is good for Black.

15…Qc5  This move looks good optically, but is also superficial compared to some insightful alternatives.  For example, I missed 15…f5, 16.BxN cxB, 17.Qxd5?? Be6 followed by ….f4, trapping the bishop.  15…Be6 straight away is also reasonable here.

16.BxN?!  He spent a long time on this move, and I was more worried about 16.Qd4! here, as I pointed out to Clint after the game, simply didn’t see it before I played my last move.

18…Qe7?!  I was going to play 18…Qd6!, but over-thought it, and second-guessed myself.

19…c5?!  After 19…f5, Black is playing for a win, around +1.5 in Black’s favor.  After the game, I told Clint that my move was a mistake.

20.h4!  I realized that this would be his best play, during his time.  I no longer had time to waste, so played the obvious 20…f6, but a strong and deep idea is 20…Kh7, and if 21.hxg hxg, 22. Rg8!  In practice, the better player should come out on top from such a complex position.

28….Bd7.  28…f5 is best.

29….Qe6.  29…Rbe8 is best, and part of the reason for this is that the rook on b8 is actually a hanging piece, which is why 30.f4 would have been his best follow-up to my move.

The rest of the game is easy to understand, and he seemed surprised that I was blitzing my moves out (as opposed to taking so long on moves, as was previously the case).

[Event “Colorado Springs City Championship”]
[Site “CSCC”]
[Date “2018.10.02”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Clint Eads”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackElo “1893”]
[ECO “C47”]
[EventDate “2018.10.02”]
[TimeControl “G/90, Inc 30”]
[WhiteElo “1328”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d5 8.
O-O O-O 9. Bg5 h6 10. Bh4 g5 11. Bg3 Bxc3 12. bxc3 dxe4 13. Bc4 Qe7 14. Qe2 Nd5
15. Qd2 Qc5 16. Bxd5 cxd5 17. Be5 Ba6 18. Bd4 Qe7 19. Rfe1 c5 20. Be3 Bc4 21.
h4 f6 22. a4 a5 23. Rab1 Rab8 24. Rb5 Bxb5 25. Qxd5+ Qf7 26. Qxe4 Rfe8 27. Qf5
Re5 28. Qg4 Bd7 29. Qg3 Qe6 30. hxg5 hxg5 31. Qh2 Kg7 32. Qg3 Qg4 33. Qxg4 Bxg4
34. f3 Bd7 35. Kf2 Rbe8 36. Bd2 Rxe1 37. Bxe1 Bxa4 38. c4 Rxe1 39. Kxe1 Bxc2
40. Kd2 Ba4 41. g3 Bc6 42. f4 gxf4 43. gxf4 Kg6 0-1