4NCL Rounds 5 and 6
They say there’s always a first time for everything and this weekend was a first timer for me as well. Alas, it was not a pleasant first-time experience. I have played in many leagues and I had never lost two games over a weekend. This time it happened.
In round 5 my team Cheddleton played against Blackthorne Russia and we were the favourites to win. Win we did, but only yours truly spoiled it a bit as the only one to lose a game. I played black against the solid IM Richard Bates, who always plays the Catalan. I chose a modern and risky gambit line and obtained a good and complex position, only to start spoiling it with every subsequent move. My thoughts lacked clarity and I was feeling as if my head was full of fog. Possibly all because of the longer lay off from practical play?! My opponent played well and even though I resisted until move 55, I never had a chance.
The round 6 was the big derby against Guildford. We were equal on match points so the winner of the match would win the Pool A with a round to go. It’s worth mentioning here that last year we were trashed 8-0 against them so this year I even dared to publicly announce on Twitter that this time it won’t be the same! I was right, but that was a small consolation. We lost 6.5-1.5, the GingerGM (Simon Williams) scoring our only victory (over GM Marc Hebden) and IM Jonathan Hawkins drawing on board 1 against GM Matthew Sadler. Everybody else lost. I ran into some good preparation in an obscure line against GM Romain Edouard, but I thought I was reacting well for the time being. But then something strange happened, as white’s position very rapidly started to deteriorate at move 15 and by move 20 I was practically lost! This is a rare occurence in chess, but it can happen in these hypermodern openings – W seemingly plays sensibly and puts his pieces in the centre when all of a sudden the trend turns against him and he’s run over. I will analyse this game more deeply and will undoubtedly learn much from it!
Everybody reacts differently to set-backs. I have always tried to bounce right back, stronger and more motivated. Now is a time to analyse the mistakes, learn from them, forget them and come back winning. And that’s what I intend to do again.
It's funny how I had exactly the same impressions during the game, but after analysis they all seem to have been wrong – I also thought that d5 wasn't very good as it closes the long diagonal and blunts his Bishop, but I missed the Na5-c4 idea which reopens it! I liked the plan of Qa4, Bb5 and Rc1-c3, both attacking the queenside and protecting the kingside, just it turned out it didn't work – the computer claims that black wins with 21…c6 or 21…a6, but 21…Rdf8 isn't bad either. I was considering f3 and f4, but they didn't really work, as after h3 and some Qe7 black crashes through. I still have to think things through as I sense there's much to learn from this game, both chess-wise and psychologically.
We all make those kinds of slips every now and then; even grand ol Kramnik isn’t immune. At least you put your 2014 slip up behind you. Watching it on my phone I thought that his d5 wasn’t the best and that you managed to more or less weather the surprise after it. I think I would have gone Nh4 instead of Nd2 just to keep it on the K side after g3. I wasn’t sure about the Bb5, Qa4 and b3 idea, but really liked Rc3. It seemed like a good strong move, doing all kinds of things (guarding the Kside and perhaps even looking at a3 and a7). Was f3 or f4 possible for white at some point?