For round two I'm paired against Dario's younger brother, Giancarlo. We've played a two times before. I have a win and a draw against him. The first time I had played him, I had to beg him to play in the tournament to make an even number. He'd had just come to hang out while his brother was playing. He thought that his rating of 950 was too low to play in the tournament. I told him it was okay, and that he'd be fine. So what happens? I play him in the second round and barely squeak out a draw with him. In fact I had blundered and he missed a very nice forced mate in this position that arose after 33. Qf8+ Kg5.
The game continued 34. h4+! Kh5 35. Qf3+ White offers draw?? I accepted, figuring he was just going to play 36. Qf8+ and repeat the position which had done twice before playing h4+. We both had missed the killer combination. The solution is at the bottom of the post. I haven't quite figured out how to do the hidden font trick that Happy Hippo does on his blog.
Getting back to Wednesday's game in the club championship. Giancarlo was part of this group of players who had been paired as draw pending the outcome of the first round for the latecomers. I had played the first round and drew with one of these under rated "returning to tournament chess after a long lay off" type players. After his 17th move of Nxc6 we reach this position, and he offers me a draw.
What is it with kids offering their higher rated opponents draws after so few moves? I was rather annoyed by the offer and told him "No I don't want a draw right now. I came here to play chess." We had only been playing for a half hour. Why would either player want a draw at this stage of the game? It's not like we're Grandmasters in the last round playing on board 1 for first place. It's the second round of the club championship where first prize is going to be around $80. What are we going to do for the rest of the evening if we take a draw here? Watch the other games? Play a bunch of blitz games? If I want to play blitz all evening I can save gas by staying at home and playing 5 minute chess on FICS.
Maybe this is a new psychological ploy. Offer a draw to an opponent who you know hates early draw offers. I know it was not intentional on his part, but it seemed to get me so ticked off that I lost focus. Two moves later he played 19. Qb4 attacking my b7 pawn. I spent 10 minutes coming up with one of the worst ways possible to give him the pawn. Here is the entire game.
I could have resigned right after I had to give up the rook on move 31, but having rejected the draw offer 15 minutes earlier because "I was here to play chess", I felt like I should keep playing. Did I regret not taking the draw offer at move 17? No. Perhaps my only regret was allowing it to distract me when I was trying to find the best response to 19. Qb4. That's just another one of those focusing issues that I have to work on. On the bright side I got see how one takes advantage of a weak flank.
I talked to my opponent after the game, and explained why I rejected the draw offer. Draws should only happen with there is nothing left in a position. As a teacher and coach, I would never want my students go for an early draw just for the sake of rating points. One does not learn that way. In this game if I had taken the draw on move 17 he would not have had the opportunity to play out that position and execute the nice queen side attack. Unlike my opponent from Saturday who couldn't take advantage of his position, Giancarlo pounced on my queen side weaknesses.
It's funny because I had given his brother the exact same lecture last fall after one of his premature draw offers ended out with him losing a piece two moves later. Since that little lecture his record against me is two wins and one draw. Maybe I shouldn't be giving these kids advice since it seems to come back and bite me. However the teacher in me wants to see the kids improve. They're not going to improve by asking for early draws.
In case you didn't see the mates that we missed from our first game here they are:
35. Rf5+ Kg4 36.Rg5# or 35... gxf5 36. Qxf5+ Kh6 37. Qg5#.
Even sac-ing my rook doesn't help. 34. h4+ Rxh4 35. gxh4+ Kxh4 36. Qh6+ Kg4 37. Bc1#