Week two of FIDE Thursdays at the Marshall I get paired against the dad of kids that used to play in my scholastic tournaments when they were in elementary school. Now those kids are in college. That makes me feel old. Either that or maybe I've been doing all of this for way too long!
This was a game that was mine for the taking, but I just wasn't seeing everything. The opening started as an English but transposed into a Maroczy Bind. Being an Accelerated Dragon player I'm used to seeing it from the Black side. I've had some success transposing into the White side of it from a symmetrical English. One way Black can play against the Maroczy is to play 7...Ng4 attacking White's bishop on e3. I don't play the line, but players have played it against me when I've had White. My opponent played 9...Ng4 which was a blunder. However I missed the simple win of a piece because I was analyzing a different move order. After 10. Bxg4 Bxg4 we reach this position.
I could have simply played 11. Nxc6 Bxd1 12. Nxd8 and I'm up a piece. I wasn't looking at that line. I was looking at 11. Qxg4 Nxd4. I decided to play 11. f3? My opponent wasn't through with trying to give me gifts. He spent 7 minutes on his next move, Instead of retreating his bishop he plays 11...Qb6? 12. Nd5 Qc5?? We reach the position below.
I spent a long time on this next move. Sometimes it's very easy to get fixated on a certain idea, but be blind to what other pieces are doing. I wanted to utilize a discovered attack on the queen, but I kept thinking that my bishop on e3 is not protected. I looked at 13. Nxc6 and if 13...Qxc6 14. Nxe7+ forking the king and queen. I think my problem was that I got ahead of myself in the analysis and saw my knight no longer guarding the bishop. I was forgetting that my knight on d6 isn't going anywhere until he responds to the threat of Bxc5. So to guard my bishop I played the discovered attack move of 13. Nf5. It wins material, but not as much as 13. Nxc6.
Here's the game in its entirety with the analysis of how it might go after 13. Nxc6.
I played too cautiously after winning material. I could have picked up another pawn or two and forced some more trades. Instead I took the wrong approach to trading down and my opponent found ways to avoid trades and hold on to his pawns. Then 3 hours into the game I had one of those total lapses in concentration and allowed him to get the exchange back. I wanted to just kick myself at that point. 7 moves later we agree to a draw. It's that point that he tells me that would have resigned if I played 13. Nxf6. In fact he admitted that he was contemplating resigning when I played 12. Nd5, figuring I saw 13. Nxc6, but he waited to see what I would play. Sigh. I hate when that happens, especially since I saw the move!