Total mayhem

IM dpruess
Apr 12, 2009, 12:07 AM |

I just played one of my wilder games of recent memory.

I was paired with Grandmaster Khachiyan on board 2. I have lost to him twice before, and as we were sitting down to play, I briefly reviewed my profile of him. He is a very strong endgame player, enjoys some openings like the Ruy Lopez exchange, Bb5 sicilians. However, I've never had the chance to face his endgame, I reflected, having been brutally cut down at the very beginning of both of our previous meetings. I counseled myself about those games: I had played too quickly and too provocatively in the opening. Be patient, I told myself, take some more time in the opening, and don't try so hard to create anything. Just hang in there, stay solid, and hopefully today you can experience his endgame skill for the first time.

Then the game started, and my opponent was knocking out his moves really fast. I completely forgot the plan, and started banging out moves as fast as I could trying (unsuccessfully) to keep up. After 15 moves of an opening neither of us had planned to play, he had 1:47 left and I 1:43! Completely irresponsible. What makes this most startling is that I had given myself advice on this very point while thinking at the board for a few minutes before the start. Crazy. I think he must have triggered some psychological weakness that I really don't like having an opponent play fast against me. Not only was I playing fast, but I blazed past all sorts of options, and glibly entered an insane adventure. The board became chaotic, and I played to take over the center, while my king was being denuded.

In the tactics that followed, my opponent missed a couple wins. Nevertheless, coming out of the game, I felt so very satisfied. I had lived! I had survived!! I had a soft spot in my heart for the stupid way I had set up the game, and to escape semi-justified it, even though I thought I should have lost objectively. Also it felt great to finally not get checkmated at the outset by this opponent.

Here's the game that has me giddy: