Saturday, 30 January 2010

Looking for a dark corner to crawl into.......

Sooner or later, every chess player will sit down and analyse their recent games. Every so often, as we lazily play through the moves we deem unimportant or boring, alarm bells will ring. "Why didn't I just play that?", you'll ask yourself, "that's winning by the look of it...", "Hang on....I'll just see what Fritz says...". And then the full force of your ineptitude hits you - you've missed a win so easy your pet hamster could spot it!!

But what if you went through that exact thought process (without the Fritz part of course) during a match, moments after you've automatically played what looks like a reasonable if rather dull move!!? Which brings me onto my recent game, in which I did just that. Having missed a winning continuation, I then spent the next hour looking for somewhere to hide from my own embarrassment and, in doing so, worked myself into a lost position only to lash out widly in frustration, somehow get a winning position but be forced into a three-fold repition due to time trouble!

Anyway, enough of my troubled rantings - to the moves:

White - N.N
Black - S Milford

1. d4 Nf6
2. Nc3 d5
3. Bg5 Nbd7
4. e3 e6
5. Bd3 c5
6. b3??

And here I should have played 6...c4!, afterwhich the pin of the c3 Knight by Bb4 and Qa5 (which also attacks the g5 bishop) wins. However, I dismissed c4 in a flash only to realise my the extent of my laziness at move 8.

7. Nf3

Another chance for the same thing! But I miss it yet again

8. 0-0 Qc7

(The chance is gone and I compound the problem with this weak move. 0-0 was better by far)

9. Bf4 Bd6
10. Bxd6 Qxd6
11. Re1 cxd4
12. exd4 0-0
13. Ne5 b5
14. a3 Bb7
15. f4 b4?!
16. axb4 Qxb4
17. Ne2 Nxe5
18. fxe5 Ne4
19. Ra4 Qe7
20. Rf1 f5

I'd got myself into a bit of time trouble by now (which somewhat explains the disjointed nature of my play) and, still thinking about my earlier oversight , I decided to go for it - death or glory!!

21. Ra1 Qg5
22. Nf4 Qe7
23. Rf3 g5
24. Nh5 g4
25. Rf1 Qf7?
26. Nf4 h5
27. c4 Qe7
28. Nxh5 Qg5
29. Nf4 g3?!

(A desperate attempt to complicate things with less that a minute to make 5 more moves)

30. hxg3 dxc4
31. Nxe6??

Before this move, white was clearly better & probably totally winning. However, this swings it completely in my favour. But with seconds on the clock I had no chance to find the winning combination(s!) and had to settle for the perpetual.

31... Qe3+
32. Kh2 Qh6+
33. Kg1 Qe3+
34. Kh2 Qh6+
35. Kg1 Qe3+

1/2 - 1/2

I would have got another 15 minutes at this point had it not been a draw by repition. I like to think I would have found a route to the win (Rf7 with a timely cxd3 seems to do the trick) but I think I was more likely to have had a heart attack at the speed I'd been forced to play the last few moves!

The real lesson here though I suppose is "don't play automatically". If you actually spend the time to calcualte before lazily pushing out another piece you may be surprised by what you see.

Cheers, and happy king-hunting!