Cleveland Open, Day 2: Improbable Holds

NM blitzcopter
Aug 11, 2015, 8:53 PM |

After an unexpectedly shaky first day (see my very long post from yesterday), I had 2.5/3, due for Black and White in the last two rounds, in that order. I decided to play solidly in Round 4 and go for the win in Round 5, assuming I would need 4/5 for money. As it turns out, this wouldn't have turned out that well had I succeeded; 5 rounds, 80 players (as opposed to 30-50) produced a big split at 4/5. But I'd never consciously made this kind of practical decision before and thought it would be an interesting experience.

Despite the 5-hour time control, I played both games under significant pressure, barely passing move 40, and burning the 30 minutes after that quickly as well.

The first game was difficult defense all the way through, although expected given White's choice of 3. Nc3 against the Caro-Kann (far more challenging than the Advance or Exchange variations). I was far behind on time the whole game, which is unusual for young players against much older opponents.

Running the second game through the computer was VERY disappointing. I would have very much liked to win the last round, and played the first half of the game pretty well. I don't know much about the Benoni, but I happened to remember an excellent Korchnoi - Kasparov game and pushed the opening toward that.

When playing 25. Nc6, I had forgotten about 26...Bd4+. The computer still gives White a decent advantage until about move 35, when a few time trouble inaccuracies turned the game in Black's favor. After ...Bd4+ I clearly didn't know what I was doing.

I barely made move 40 again and quickly burned most of my remaining time. By some miracle even though I was down 10 minutes to 50, I put up some good resistance (and my opponent didn't refute my bad moves), eventually reaching a dead kings+pawn ending.

Like the fourth round, this also took the whole time.