Things got off to a scary start. Lately it seems like any time there's another female in a tournament I get paired against her. I had three Thursdays in a row where I play Shernaz Kennedy, and on two of those Thursdays I played another woman too. Five games against females and I went 0-5. In round one I played Alexandra. The last time we played she got a nasty attack going and I ended out flagging. This game had some remarkable similarities.
The game started out very quietly but she was using way too much time. I wasn't so sure what she was thinking about because the moves seemed very straight forward. On move 22 she played Ne4. I didn't really think it was such a big deal. I was paying more attention to the clock. She had less then a minute, and I had over 20 minutes. Then she played 23. Nf6+ to reach this position.
At first I panicked, and thought the discovered or double check was going to be deadly. Then I realized that after 23...Kg7 that the best she can get here is a draw. She can force the draw after 24. Nh5+ Kg8 25. Nf6+ Kg7 26. Nh5+ Kg8 27. Nf6+. I can't avoid the perpetual with 24...Kh6?? It's mate in 7. Do you see it? Highlight between the parenthesis for the answer.( 25. Qf6 Qxg2+ 26. Kxg2 Rd2+ 27. Kh3 Rg2 28. Kxg2 Nh4+ 29. Kh3 Nf3 30. Qg7+ Kxh5 31. Qxh7# )
She opted not to go for the draw. The game continued 24. Rf3 Rh8 25. Nh5+ Kg8 26. 26 Rg3 Qb5 White loses on time. She has very interesting possibilities after 27. Rd3 Re8 (Not Rxd3!) 28. Nf6+ Kf8 29. Nxe8 Qxe5 30. exf5 Kxe8. Fortunately I didn't have to deal with those possibilities. I felt like I dodged a serious bullet that game.
In the second round I played Michael and Josh played Kevin. This was an exact repeat of the Monday night pairings from a few weeks ago. Like two weeks ago I beat Mike and Josh beat Kevin. Kevin's mom noted that Josh is becoming Kevin's King Kong. However Josh has a lot games before his record against Kevin looks anything like kevin's record against me. I'd like to say that my round three result against Josh was just like two weeks ago, but it was not to be. He won the coin toss for color, but opted to take Black. This kind of surprised me, given his success against me with the white pieces. I guess he figured it would be good practice to take black against me. Kevin's third round opponent also had won the toss and opted for black.
Once again Josh and I were playing for first place. $60 on the line this time. This time he was far more focused. Two weeks ago he gave me a gift rook shortly after my stupid hastily made knight move. I guess he learned that he can't take this old chess dog for granted. She may have some new tricks. However the only trick I did was roll over and play dead. It was his birthday and I gave him the gift of a backward pawn on an open file. Eventually he picked up that pawn and more.
I suppose I could have played on, but after he takes the e pawn I'm going to be hard pressed to do anything about the passed c and d pawns. I didn't feel like having to give up material to stop the pawns. He had a sizeable time advantage to go with the material advantage. I could tell from Josh's demeanor that there would be no gifts this time. He looked like a young man on a mission. I had snapped his winning streak against me, so payback was coming and the start of a new streak. Maybe I can break it before it becomes a streak of two or more.
Happy Birthday Josh. Welcome to the world of double digit birthdays. Now I can say I've stopped losing to 9 year olds. Well at least for the time being. I'm sure there are more of them waiting for me.