After yet another long hiatus, I returned back to online slow games by joining the Dan Heismen Learning Center and participating in the 3rd league qualifier after a few weeks of waiting period. Apparently, showing up for your scheduled games in a qualifier tournament is necessary to play in the "official" slow tournaments held by the club, which I found to be a fair requisite after learning about the high frequency of no-shows by fresh-starters.
On the first round, I was paired with a lower rated opponent, but he had played only two games in slow(ish) time controls yet, and there was a strong chance that he was underrated, which I believe in fact turned out to be the case. I think he played at a much higher level than his rating indicates in our game.
I was greatly lacking gameplay experience due to a very long inactivity. All I have been doing chess-wise for several months is studying tactics and occasionally playing against an engine in my phone.
Still, I was very optimistic before the start of this game, and I didn't prepare any openings. If I had a high rated opponent with a large archive of games that I could analyse, I probably would have.
Here's the game with my almost move-by-move patzer annotations. I tried to remember what was going through my head during the game. Although I did look into the game using an engine post-mortem, I didn't want to get into heavy computer analysis with long variations in this post, although I probably would want to do that if there were more forcing lines.
I think my opponent played a very decent game. I regret completely missing the Nb6 and Qe6 moves. However, I did have a few things to be happy about:
I think not taking the free pawn on f5 and instead going for the initiative with a short series of strong moves starting with Rd1 is very new in my style.
I am too used to playing passively and "too naturally" (if that makes any sense), just sitting there making normal looking moves and waiting for my opponents to blunder something. I need to learn the art of "problem creating" for my opponents, hitting here and there in their position to force some weaknesses to work on.
Making accurate "real" sacrificies (not the pseudo-ones as in tactical combinations) is an ability that I greatly wish to acquire. Although not taking an extra pawn hardly counts as a sacrifice, I hope it's a step in that direction. I'm not writing all this as if Rd1 was a brilliance or something, it is not about the particular quality of that move, which is mediocre at best. It is just that I hope this is an indication that my in-game psychology is starting to slowly evolve.
The second thing that makes me happy about this game is this:
After ruining almost all my advantage and reaching an equalish position after 28...Rc6, normally I would expect myself to feel a very strong frustration and completely lose my motivation to keep playing, occasionally I would even offer draws to just finish the game and walk out of that feeling. But this time, none of that happened. I was able to get back to my mindset at the beginning of the game and still keep playing for a win from a drawn looking position with patient endgame plans like getting my king into the play. This is something new too.
I hope I didn't sound naively optimistic with all this and I hope this was interesting for all and a little instructive for those who suck even worse at chess than myself.
Thanks to my opponent and the DHLC people for their immense effort in organizing these tournaments. If you're into playing slow games online and improving your game, this group is highly recommended. Plus, the larger the slow players pool the better.
From now on, I will try to update my blog weekly (if I can play a game every week in the slow DHLC events.) All feedback is welcome. Good chess to everybody and thanks for reading!