My 2nd Luckiest Game Ever
In what I have long considered my luckiest game ever, I survived a completely losing ending down a queen and pawns for rook and bishop.
In the same tournament a year later (a PCC Tuesday night game), the same powers that be have gifted me yet another narrow escape. Unfortunately I outrated my opponent by more than 400 points and narrowly escaping a 40-rating loss is not a particularly good omen for the upcoming Cherry Blossom Classic.
There were two issues in play that night. First, I was uncharacteristically overconfident the whole game as my last two meetings with my opponent, an inconsistent regular who had been rated 1750+ merely weeks ago, had been rather one-sided.
This was combined with my sudden desire to save energy. I came out of the opening with a nice space/central advantage and safer king, but I overestimated the stasis of said edge and my lack of focused play caused it to dissipate. The game eventually turned into a completely losing knight ending, but I kept playing fast-ish because I thought my only hope was a time trouble blunder from Black (like the stalemate in the game!).
The game also exposed some of the holes in my endgame intuition. I haven't played many endings where the reasoning is much different from that of normal piece play/pawn structure in the middlegame. But certain endings have certain characteristics that can be hard to internalize. In my case, I forgot about:
- the relative importance of tempi. I basically went into the ending thinking I must be at least equal due to pawn structure, but Black had the move in the critical situation.
- the numerous resources of the defender in knight endings. If I had been more alert to this, I would have seen many tactical possibilities to legitimately save the game. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of time to delve into specifics, but when I was going over the knight endgame sidelines with other people, someone noted my first suggestions were always the passive ones.