What about the two losses? It was payback time. I had beaten both of them in my last games against them. Someone once said "you can't win them all." Someone else said "Payback is a b@#$!" In round one I played Reva Singh who I had beaten in round four at the New York State Championship. This time she had White. I knew this was going to be a tough game. She chose the Maroczy Bind to counter my Accelerated Dragon. Even though I don't enjoy playing against the Maroczy, I don't find it as frightening as the Grand Prix or some of White's other aggressive responses against the Sicilian. Defending against the Maroczy tends to be an exercise in patience. Black's game is cramped, but it's not all that easy for White to attack.
One of the things that I have found difficult in playing longer time controls is staying focused while analysing a complex line. Tied in with that is remembering that threats don't necessarily go away just because the opponent hasn't played the moves that create the threat.
We reached the position below after 23. a3
White had made a number of the typical Maroczy Bind issues go away for Black by trading on c6 giving me the chance to play d5. Without the d5 break Black tends to have a very cramped position. Here I have a protected passed pawn on d5, but no easy way to start pushing it. My concerns here are the holes on f6 and d6. I don't want her being able to stick her knight on one of those squares with no easy way to dislodge it, so I really wanted to trade the pawn on e4. I spent 6 minutes trying to figure out if 23...f6 was sound or not. If White takes right away I have the option on recapturing with the rook or the knight, but I will have a backward pawn on e6. I concluded that opening the e and f files would free up my position, and that White can't really take advantage of the backward pawn. One possible continuation might be 24. exf6+Rxf6 25. Qd4 Qc7 26. Rae1 Kg8 27. g3 e5 28. fxe5 Rxf1+ 29. Rxf1 Qxe5 30. Qxe5 Nxe5.
After I played 23...f6 White actually played 24. Qd4 giving me the opportunity of capturing on e5 and giving her an isolated pawn that I can target. The game continued 24... fxe5 25. fxe5 Qb8 26. Rxf8 Rxf8 27.Ne4? to reach the position below.
It took me no time at all to the reject the knight trade of 27...dxe4 28. Qxd7+. Perhaps the outright rejection of that move caused me to miss 27...Rf4! winning White's knight. 28. Re1 Nxe5 29. Qd2 Rxe4 30.Rxe4 dxe4. Instead I was focusing on whether I could take the hanging pawn on e5, and be able to hold it. What I was forgetting about was White could stick her knight on d6. Though it didn't seem like it could do much since its only safe destination was b7. The game continued 27...Qxe5 28. Qxe5+ Nxe5 29. Nd6 to reach this position below.
One of the things I had taken into consideration was what I would do if White played Re1 attacking my knight. If she does, I can bring my king to f6 to guard it. My king will not be in danger, and White's knight still doesn't have useful moves. However in the course of my analysis leading up to 27...Qxe5 I had given thought to playing ...Rf6 at some point to guard the backward pawn if my knight moved, and to retain control of the open f file. When taking that move into consideration White's knight was not on d6. Now the knight is on d6. Where is the knight going?
I'm sure you can see where this leading and you're probably thinking to yourself, "Please tell us you didn't play 29...Rf6?" Unfortunately in one of those ADD moments that I'm prone to, I did play 29...Rf6. After having spent over 6 minutes on 23...f6 and another 4 minutes on 27...Qxe5, I used less then a minute to play 29...Rf6. She took all of about 3 seconds to find 30. Nf8+.
It's hard to describe what goes through my mind when I'm trying to work out different variations. There are the the moves themselves I'm thinking about, and then there are the little internal reminders to myself. "Stop looking at Dan's game." "Take another look at move X." "Look at the board, not at her facial expression." etc.
So why didn't 'blunder-check" mode kick in at this point? I think I was too busy drooling over being up a pawn and having two connected passed pawns. Also I had written her knight off as not dangerous. I was correct that her knight isn't dangerous. Even if she has Ne8+ as long as my rook is not on f6, it's not a dangerous move. The only worse moves I could have played in that position would have been 29...Re8 or 29...Rc8.
Despite losing the exchange at this point, it's far from over. I still have the passed e and d pawns. Fritz gives White + over =, so not even a full pawn advantage. However it was a complex ending that required a lot of analysis and counting squares. I constantly had to be concerned about White pushing b5 to create a passed pawn on the queen side. Two things I had to keep thinking about were keeping my king close enough to get back in time, and having my knight ready to blockade if necessary.
Almost every move from move 32 onward I kept looking at White playing b5. I kept counting how many moves it would take to get the king back. Each time I can get the king over in time. However White can make some pawn trades, and it's still quite complicated. We reach the following position after 34...a6
I thought 34...a6 would prevent b5, but she can play it here. Better for me would have been 34...Ke6. The game continued 35. g4 e4 36. g5+ In another ADD moment I forgot about why she had not played b5 up to this point. I played 36...Kxg5?, and now my king is too far away. Now she plays 37. b5.
Here is the entire game.
It's frustrating when this sort of stuff happens. Thoughtful analysis goes right out the window in a brief lapse of concentration. In looking back at this game I thought that I might have played Kxg5 because I was in severe time pressure. I wasn't at that point. I spent a couple of minutes on the move, and played it anyway because I forgot about b5. (Senility or ADD?) Then when she played b5 I had to burn a lot of time trying to see if my knight could cover. The time scramble came after I was lost.
I haven't found anything in the literature on coping with ADD that covers how get through a complex chess position without losing concentration or getting distracted by a sudden burst of overconfidence. Maybe trying to resolve that problem will be my contribution to ACIS.
Tomorrow: A Wacky Wednesday case of forgetting about threats.