Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Part 2: King's Gambit (King's Knight's Gambit), Internet Chess Club

This is the second part of a post about a game I played last weekend on ICC.  See Part 1 for the opening:

One-DarkKnight (1644) - jientho (1277)

I've completely got this game in the bag, right?  Materially up rook, knight, and 2 pawns.  No obvious threats by White.  At best White gains the pawn by 13.Bxe5 Bxe5 14.Qxf6 Nxf6 15.Rxe5+ Kf8 right?  So how did I blow it?  Let's see:

13.Qg3  All this seems to do is to load up further on e5 and get away from a queen swap.  Yes it takes away one additional flight square from my queen (g7) while the queen attack Ne4 is in the air, but my queen still has plenty of options especially g6.  And all I need to do is to break the pin on e5 and the bishop on f4 is immediately attacked.  As I recall, the only thing above that I didn't see during the game was the Ne4 attack.

13...Be6  I'm pretty sure that my thinking during the game was, first, try to trade off pieces (because I'm way ahead material).  Second, I also saw this as a double attack on c4 and f4 (because it breaks the pin on e5).  I was also vaguely aware that I could let the bishop on a1 drop if it meant I could develop other pieces and that the White rook would have to leave the action to get it.

14.Ne4?  There it is.  A good shot against a lower-rated player.  Because I hadn't seen it in advance and probably also because I was aware of a significant difference in remaining time budgets (6:27 for me, 9:59 for White at this point), I started to go into panic mode.  Always a bad thing for a chessplayer, especially a "novice", because it narrows the imagination down even further than it already is.  If I could wave a magic wand, panic is the one thing I would eliminate from my chessplaying.  Because even if I can't find the absolute best moves, at least I want to "see everything" (at a basic level) that's going on on the chessboard.

14...Qg6?  Not horrible.  It doesn't lose the game or any material.  But oh what I missed.  I was so focused on my threats of exf4 and Bxc4 and probably in trying to trade queens that I missed Qxf4, according to the computer.  OK I shouldn't be so hard on myself because, looking again, I must have seen White's Qg7 threat as well.  And it's not at all obvious how to handle that or whether Qxf4 is worth it.  Even now with plenty of time, I am not seeing it.
OK, I "cheated" to learn what I was missing.  I did not see any way to both protect the knight on g8 and counter the threat of Nf6+, thus thinking I would have to lose both the rook and the knight (with check) for the two bishops.  For some reason I thought the king was frozen out of f8 even after Qxh8.  Lesson to learn: consider all moves which can defend a piece after an otherwise favorable liquidation; also always know which side is "on move" during a trade-down (I assumed Nf6 would necessarily be a check, forking king and pinned knight; not so if I have an extra move to counter that).  The line:  14...Qxf4 15.Qg7 Bxc4 16.Qxh8 Kf8.

15.Bxe6 Qxe6?  Complete blunder.  Here again panic must have been a factor.  I just completely lost the previous threads of:  1) Qg7 threat (thought it was permanently addressed already or something?) and 2) trading queens (maybe I thought I was in check?).  Also possible paranoia that my opponent was trying to "trick" me into removing the support of f7 for my queen and doubling up my pawns.  Why oh why does my brain sometimes turn into spaghetti? :-|

16...Nd7  Somehow I stumble into a good move.  Unfortunately I took 2:21 to come up with it, leaving me 3:06 on the clock.  This and my next move were my plan for saving the g8 knight with development.  No way was I going to venture exf4 now, even if I had seen the bishop on a1 hitting g7, because I definitely saw the coming rook pin against e6 with Nf6+ or Nd6+.

17.Qxh8 Ke7?  This is much worse than the other way to get the a8 rook to defend g8.  Right idea, wrong execution.  What do I need to do, besides ignoring the clock, to get myself to double-check for an improved way to accomplish something?  Just because we're on move 17 doesn't mean O-O-O is not available.  I think it is a matter of keeping more possibilities in my consciousness at the same time.  There is just no excuse for a chessplayer not at least keeping all legal single moves in mind.

18.Bg5+  Of course, removing the bishop from attack with check.

18...f6 19.Qxh7+ Qf7  I do some pretty good defending here, for a while.

20.Qh3 fxg5 21.Nxg5 Qxa2  Inviting a king chase.
Qg6 was better, hitting the knight while still stopping nasty queen checks at e6 and h7.  I am now down to 0:47 on my clock while opponent has 5:06.  With no forced mating plan in place, it's all but hopeless.

22.Qh7+ Kd6 23. Rd1+  My thoughts at this point are to try to run the king toward a3 whenever I'm checked, and otherwise to try to catch my opponent unawares somehow with a QxR#.

23...Kc5?  I am not seeing that the knight on d7 is hanging.  Bd4 is the move.

24.Ne6+  Haha.  Opponent does not see the knight hanging either, but instead moves his own knight en prise.  Cute.  I guess he's just in run-down-opponents-clock mode.  He has 4:02.

24...Kb4  He was right that I wouldn't see Qxe6.

25.Qxd7  Now he does see my knight hanging.  I forfeit on time here.

Very discouraging, especially considering how some folks play successful 1-minute chess and with 1 minute left I still had a 4.56 advantage by computer eval.  So another lesson learned: learn how to optimize my own play at different time budgets.

And of course the overarching lesson: don't lose won games.

Thanks for reading.  Comments are welcome.

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