Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mass Open Musings, Part 2: No Country for Old Men (G/45, d/5)

A twist in English Opening preparation

Round 1, playing White:
When I arrived at the board, my young opponent Andrew, whose legs didn't reach the floor from the chair, was slumped over the board. Asleep? No. Tactically asleep? Hopefully.

Before we started, Andrew set me straight on having configured my clock incorrectly for increment instead of delay. Not as "equivalent" as I'd once thought. Onward...

After 5 Nf3

He's not going to blunder with 5...Bb7??, is he?

Yes, he is! After 6 Nxe5, I was up a clean, no strings attached, pawn.

After 22...Rc8

Here, 23 Ne2 (for instance) controlling d4 would have avoided trouble. Instead, after 23 Nd5 Bb2

24 Rc2?? I think at this point I had seen Black's next move coming (24...Rxc5, to be followed by 25 Rxc5 Bd4+ and 26...Bxc5), but I was too flustered, feeling time-pressured, to find 24 Ne7!, when White is still winning (+-). I may be giving myself too much credit, but I think that if the time control had been slower (maybe even just the 40/100, G/60 of the last three rounds), I would have seen the right move. By forking the two rooks, White ensures he will get back the exchange that he'd lose to Black's bishop after 24 Ne7 Bxc1. If, after 24 Ne7, 24...Nb7, then 25 b4 +-.

Assistant Regional Grandmaster Dwight Schrute from The Office, from whom I could apparently stand to learn a thing or three:
Whenever I’m about to do something, I think, 'Would an idiot do that?' And if they would, I do not do that thing.
After 27...Kxd6

Here, I played 28 bxc5+??, failing to notice that 28 Rd1! would have avoided losing a piece. I was, quite unreasonably, still psychologically rocked from not having foreseen the 24...Rxc5 and 25...Bd4+ moves earlier in the game.

Eventually, 0-1, with me playing the last moves quite quickly, illogically worried about losing on the clock after having already gotten a lost position on the board. Probably part of me just wanted the end to arrive more quickly.

This grizzled warrior found it cute that, after the game, Andrew innocently suggested to me that I needn't have hurried with my last moves, because I had plenty of time left. "Plenty of time left" is in the eye of the beholder....

Round 2, playing Black:

Of course, that doesn't mean I know it well.

Years ago, I bought a used, marked-up Cambridge Springs book online. I was not deterred by the markings which the seller had noted, although I didn't know their full extent until after I received it.

The book was expensive, and I stubbornly refused to pay full price. These are not my markings, but my approach is similar: I play through the variations, assessing, based on my own personal style, how I feel about them, then write in my preferences so that I can more easily find my known preferences later (often enough, long years later). Unfortunately, that is not a task that I'd gotten around to for this opening variation prior to this game (Hmm, still haven't gotten around to that...).

1 d5 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Nc3 c6 5 Bg5 Nbd7 6 e3 Qa5

My young opponent Amy seemed a bit surprised by 6...Qa5, suggesting a lack of familiarity with the position. After some thought she played 7 Bxf6.

Ken seemed a bit surprised by 7 Bxf6, suggesting a lack of familiarity with the position.

Let me tell you, G/45, d5, is *not* when you want to be chewing up precious minutes contemplating at length which of several broad strategies are appropriate for your position, but that's exactly what I found myself doing. I was rapidly smothered, and resigned without much ado.

Round 3, playing Black:

After 3 Bc4

I suspected, but couldn't remember, if 3...Nxe4 was valid. Bologan calls this Zukertort's Strike in Black Weapons in the Open Games.

After 5 Nxe4, Bologan (Did I earlier mistype that as Bologna, or did autocorrect do that?) gives a number of lines beginning with 5...d5. Naturally, I didn't remember them, and couldn't realistically expect to work them out myself in this time control, and I also didn't want to get blown out of the water by known opening tactics, so I played the timid 5...Be7, and aimed to make the best of things. My opponent Noah also played less than aggressively, then after a time scramble (no surprise there!), I won the ending. Noah is older than I, so I guess this win still fits under "No country for old men."

And so, thankfully, ended the faster time control half of the tournament. In my case, age did comparatively better vs youth in the second half. To be continued....

Mass Open Musings, Part 1: Journey to the West (西遊記, 哈哈)

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