I should mention that the first two rounds were G/90, d/5 and the last three rounds were G/90, Inc/30. I used to think that this was simply bad for me, but now I realize that if the higher-rated player can manage his/her clock during these rounds, that the pressure is more on the lower-rated player to “do something”.
Believe it or not, I only got maybe 20 minutes of sleep before this tournament. I woke up Friday at 1pm, jogged five miles at a 12 minute pace, and didn’t go to sleep until 5:45am to 6:15 am, and spent at least ten of those minutes laying there thinking. I lied down on the couch after my jog, but didn’t sleep, just closed my eyes for maybe twenty minutes. The odd thing is that the only time I was tired was during round two in the opening, where I forgot any Catalan prep I had, but figured I’d just try to outplay him.
I couldn’t recall why I was supposed to play Nc3 before Bf4 – I remembered not playing Bf4 allows my queen to go to the king’s side, but didn’t think as to why that may be necessary, needless to say at G/90, d/5 I was trying to avoid any deep thinks. When he played …d6-d5, I even told myself that I would save time by not looking at it – not a good policy for playing chess.
At least someone decided to go ballistic against me in time-pressure, and he was really working that better position, just lost his cool I guess. We were both under five minutes, but I played better with a minute on my clock.
The was the most losing game, of a few, that I somehow managed to save. Cory is a dangerous tactician, and the most dangerous one I faced, but he doesn’t always convert his endgames, and so this was one of those dream examples in my favor. At some point, I felt he should have been picking up all of my pieces, but he likes to liquidate into endgames, perhaps too prematurely – that’s a danger of falling in love with concrete lines at the chess board, sometimes.
If 42…Bb4, I was planning 43.Rd4 Bc5, 44.Rxd2 BxB, 45.KxB RxR, 46.KxR should be dead equal.
Round time on day two was 9am, which is pretty typical, but by the time me and Alex got there, my clock was at 75 minutes remaining (fifteen minutes late). At the end position, I could see nothing for either side to do, as he was not willing to brave the g5 push, which would have gone, for example, 31.g5 hxg, 32.hxg f5, 33.exf5 Qxf5, 34.Qxb7 Qxc2, and it remains to be seen by Houdini what the eval is, as we did not find out that answer OTB.
Crazy opening, and I was fortunate that he fell into my plans. I didn’t know anyone’s rating before the games, but Jeff was the highest rated player that I faced. Those early draws, in fact, unfortunately kept me away from ever getting the chance to play any of the first through fourth place finishers in the U1900 section. I normally want to play the hottest players in my section, so that I have a chance to knock them back a point. I got more sleep on Saturday than I normally do during a tournament, but woke up about ten times and got about five hours of sleep in all that. I don’t normally sleep well before, during, or after a tournament, but I felt fine enough to not blame any external factors for my performance.
Incidentally, I was the only one in the U1900 to finish in the 3.5 point score-group. When playing for prize-money like this, I only wish the tournament could have gone on four another four rounds, so that I would have a chance to tackle the top players, particularly while in top-form, like later rounds usually are for me. Paul C. said I should try playing in the US Open, lots of rounds and it keeps getting tougher (the opponents). But this is perfect for an under section, and I suppose it’s ideal in the sense that that sort of thing could really stretch one as a player in an Open section as well, getting to play really high-rated players as long as you keep up a positive result.
Certainly, at the end of this game, Jeff saw the continuation 21…Be6, 22. BxB fxB, 23. Ne5 NxNe5, 24.Rd8+, winning. He is very nice, and said good game and shook my hand, but kind of swept the pieces aside a little in disgust as he was putting them away. I felt bad that his tournament ended this way, but I really got lucky because I was using way too much time, and he was able to find strong common-sense sort of moves quickly. Undoubtedly Jeff has a strong ability level, you can tell by his common-sense approach and quick calculations, but I got lucky that he decided to play quickly as he watched my clock dwindle.
After the game, I walked outside and visually (blindfold) calculated 21…Bf5, 22.Bxf7+ RxB, 23.Rd8+ Rf8, 24.RxR+ KxR, 25.Ne5xNc6 bxNc6, 26.d8(Q) ++- just to be sure. when you calculate visually like that, you think of the logic of each move and the purpose behind the position, and you say the moves to yourself verbally. When one combines all of these approaches together, you’ll find that it is not necessary to “see” the board so much as to understand what the pieces are doing in a position, but it’s far easier to calculate a forced line like this, nevertheless.
No sooner had I typed in the above paragraph and read it, did I notice that 26.d8(Q) is impossible for the c7 pawn. A line I am looking at now goes 21…Bf5, 22.Bxf7+ RxBf7, 23.NxRf7 KxRf7, 24.Rd8 Ne7 appears to hold for Black. I guess just 22.Nxf7 will do the trick for now, if nothing else, as 22…RxNf7, 23.Rd8+ NxRd8, 24.cxNd8(Q)++ is mate, and otherwise White is up two pawns with one of them being a pawn on the 7th rank, with a discovery check on the way.
I turned on Houdini, and both 23.Bxf7+ and 23.Nxf7 are +7, but the interesting part is why 23.Bxf7+ works. After 23.Bxf7+ RxBf7, 24.NxRf7 KxNf7, 25.Rf1! I call this “context switching”, which is often difficult for people to do during a game, as it is easy for this Rd8 move to etch out a trace in one’s mental circuit board. 25.Rf1 simply pins and wins the Bf5. The key here, if one were to try to blindfold this, is to think of the open f-file, and that the pawn formation there is g2 and h3, so that g4 is still available in conjunction with that 25.Rf1 pin. I see that I still did not complete the variation, though. After 25.Rf1 Kf7g6 (again, you have to think of the pawns on g7, h7, there is no pawn on g6 to block the king from landing on this square), 26.RxBf5 KxBf5, 27.c8(Q)+! is that final position which one must see.
On the rating side of things, it tentatively has my rating going up from 1862->1867. It’s kind of a no-man’s land of a rating, tougher to hold, still under 1900 yet not quite winning a prize for U1900. In the future, I will probably play in the Open section, and compete for Under prizes there. I can probably win at least a game and get draws in the Open section, too, just can’t play as shaky as I did here and expect to get away with it. At higher levels, there is one mistake, and then a long exploitation phase. At lower-levels there are more mistakes and shorter exploitation phases. Playing at lower-levels is more fun in that sense, and at higher-levels preparation becomes more important.
To be fair though, I feel a rating (if you could filter out external factors – some people have a busy life outside of chess) is ideally a measure of one’s chess common-sense. A chess game is testing your chess common-sense against your opponents’. This is why chess games are not just calculating variations, but knowing which variations to choose as well. Computer’s can’t teach a person a humans’ common-sense approach to chess, where to put the pieces, etc.
I just played one blitz game as a warm-up for tomorrow night. I played most of this game with under a minute on my clock – the other guy had most of his time at that point, but ended up flagging. It made me realize that most of blitz chess is simply board-awareness, and a veteran OTB player can handle the strategy part. Second blitz game look at how much easier it can be to wipe out a Catalan with White than to play 1.e4 all the time.