I had only prepared for White against Sara, as you may remember I won last week against Paul A. with this same defense. Sara is difficult enough to handle with the White pieces, so that I didn’t mind having Black against her.
Sara’s trademark with the White pieces is that at some point she likes to go on a mating attack against me.
10…Nd5 Okay, so I figured this move might be bad, moving the same piece twice, yada yada, but I hadn’t seen a refutation yet. …Bb7 or …Nbd7 are more principled moves. Black has a serious development lag here, but I was playing ignorant at this point.
11…Qa5? I had always wanted to play this move, but I could see that it was just bad after 12.Rc1, what was I thinking?
12.0-0! The super-refutation. After this, I spend over half an hour and most of that time wasn’t even analyzing so much as I felt I wanted to resign in frustration that none of my plans worked out – I think I spent 20 minutes just getting over the utter disbelief. After the game, Sara confirmed/said my …Qa5 move was just bad, which I already knew.
12…BxN, 13.axb Qb4, 14.bxBc3 Qxc3, 15.QxQ NxQ, 16.Bxc4, for example. Black is simply undeveloped, and White has a big attack.
12…NxNc3, 13.bxN Bxc3, 14.Ra2! this is what I had missed, not too deep is it? More like a visual neglect from optimism and not calculating deep enough before playing …Qa5 (or wide enough). Anyway, after 14.Ra2 Bb4, 15.Rfb1, and if 14…b4, 15.Bxc4, so it’s all kind of bad news as you can see.
13…Qb6. Played with 33 minutes left on my clock, after the headshaking was over, I felt resigned to see how I could resist, or roll with the punches.
15.Nd6 Sara spent a long time on this move, which I was happy to see. What I didn’t want to see her do was to blitz out 15.Bg3. Though I was a bit puzzled, I did see her elaborate point to connect the advanced pawns, and wasn’t too bothered by it, particularly since she was still burning up time, and we eventually caught up on time around the 17 minute point.
17…Qc5 Blacks normal developing moves, ….a6 or …Bb7 or …c5, for example, are fraught with danger, and so I had to force things in a concrete manner.
18.Rad1 During the game, I was looking at 18.b3 Qxd6, 19.Rfd1 Nb4, 20.RxQ NxQ, 21.Rxc6, which looks like a crazy continuation to be concerned about. Certainly, I noticed that 18.Rad1 only strengthened this somewhat bizarre idea. 18…Ba6 is what I had planned on playing by the time she moved (if she had played 18.b3). In any case, it was as if I had to snap out of this daydream variation and get back to 18….Rfd8, which is what I had planned all along. This variation explains why I didn’t want to play 18….Qxd6 here, but it also colored my reasoning for not playing 19….Nb4, after 19.e4.
I saw 19…Nb4, 20.Qd2 Nd3, 21.BxN Rxd, but White can sidestep this line, in any case, with 20.Qc3!, when …Nd3 would drop the piece. I did see 20…Rxd6, and was planning on playing this for while, but it’s enough to see 21.RxR, QxR, 22.Qf6 Qf8, 23.Rd1 Bb7, 24.d7 Rad8, 25.Ne5 with Black’s huge initiative.
21…a5? An auto-pilot move. In time-pressure, not forseeing White’s last move, I balked at playing 21….Rxd6, 22. RxR QxR, 23.Rd1 Qe7 (only move I looked at) 24.Ne5 Bb7, 25. Rd7 wins a piece, for example, but why not simply 23….Qc7(?), a scary line from White could then be 24.h4 g4, 25.Nd4 h5, 25.Qe3 f6, 26.Qh6 The best reply there, though, may simply be 24….gxh4!?, 25.Nxh4 e5! So this was probably Black’s best try, this line. I just couldn’t calm my nerves enough to find a line like this, and play calmly.
24.Qe3. White’s attack came as a complete surprise to me. I only expected 24.Rfd1 here.
25.Nxg5 This is what I wanted her to do, thinking that I could perhaps get a draw if she didn’t mate my king. I was more worried about 25.Rfc1, the positional approach. I saw 25.Nxg5, followed by 26.Nxe6, and thought there might be a good chance for a draw there for Black, if not more.
25…BxR Here, I saw that 25…hxN, 26.Qxg+ Kf8, 27.Qe7+ Kg8, 28.Rg4+ leads to mate, so the choice was obvious enough.
26…QxRd4 I used 6 of my last 7 minutes on this move, sensing that my position might be resignable, and still no reason to not use up the remaining time. I quickly saw the tactic, 26…fxNe6, 27.Rg4+ Kh7, 28.QxQ and now …Be2 hitting the rook, or ….Bd3 helping to promote, while also allowing a …Bg6 defense was probably the best line, decision. This should have been much better for Black than the game continuation.
36…b3 Uggh, during the game, I saw 36…Rc8, but was too nervous to play it. I had two minutes or less, and she had less time, under a minute. 36…Rc8 looks straight-up winning. 36…Rc8, 37.Qc1 (White can’t allow the check to promote, doesn’t work. Like Josh B. said after the game, she should have played Kg2 (instead of one those wasteful queen moves) somewhere). Nerves, and clock management lead to this draw as much as anything, IMHO. 37…Bf5! stopping d7. During the game, I saw this idea, but thought I had to forgo it back when I played …Bg6, but the king is on an uncheckable square now. How sad. Well, let’s see what the engine says now. Yup, 36…Rc8 was winning, uggh, and I saw the correct winning line before flipping on the engine. I considered playing 36…Rc8, but wanted to play safe on the clock and board at this point, as she was the one going wrong with little prompting. Even though I had maybe 2 min 14 seconds at most, at one point in all this, probably here I was more like 1 min 27 seconds or so when I made my move. I did want to give myself the best chance possible of securing the draw, I was already thinking about that.
What’s worse is I saw 36…Rc8, 37.Qc1 d7, 38.b2 thinking that that should somehow be a draw, but it’s totally winning for Black, as promotion comes with check in any line. For example, 38.d7xR(Q) bxQ(Q)+, and Black will have two queens and a bishop for queen. Just not looking deep enough nor wide enough there. I could have spent another minute, was simply nervous and tight, and thinking glad to have survived with a draw. I was also still hoping to see 37.QxR??, a hope-chess move, or non-analysis, better put. I also missed a simple geometrical pattern OTB. 36…Rc7, 37.d7 c1(Q)+! I missed here that both the Kg1, and the Qg5 are being attacked. Even if the queen were on f6 instead of g5, though, White’s pawn would exchange for the rook, and Black would still be up a bishop for two pawns, and winning. Yeah, I was really just trying to secure the draw here, thought there might be something to that line, but wasn’t willing to look deep at anything, afraid I might miss something simple around my king in time-pressure. If I had been more experienced, I would have realized that his d7 pawn was worth a rook, and my c2 pawn worth a queen. Checks are like a free-move, so they have to be calculated, and not merely noticed/appreciated.
[Event “May Swiss”]
[White “Sarah Herman”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e3 b5 8. a4
c6 9. Be2 g5 10. Bg3 Nd5 11. Qc2 Qa5 12. O-O Qb6 13. Be5 O-O 14. Ne4 Nd7 15.
Nd6 Nxe5 16. dxe5 Bxd6 17. exd6 Qc5 18. Rad1 Rd8 19. e4 Nf4 20. g3 Nxe2+ 21.
Qxe2 a5 22. e5 b4 23. Rd4 Ba6 24. Qe3 c3 25. Nxg5 Bxf1 26. Nxe6 Qxd4 27. Nxd4
cxb2 28. Qb3 c5 29. Nc6 c4 30. Qxb2 Bd3 31. Nxd8 Rxd8 32. Qc1 c3 33. Qxh6 c2
34. Qg5+ Kh7 35. Qd2 Bg6 36. Qg5 b3 37. Qh4+ Kg7 38. Qf6+ Kh7 39. Qh4+ Kg7 40.
Qf6+ Kh7 41. Qh4+ 1/2-1/2