Elbieh-Reed -- (1-0) -- Eastern Class 2012 -- Round 3
Round 3 of Eastern Class, I get Black, and my opponent plays e4. I was eager to play Lev Alburt's recommendation 1...c5, the Sicilian. I also still was feeling the scar from my last rated Sicilian at SWFLCC. Nonetheless, press on. 1...c5, game on!
I deviate from Lev's book with 4...g6 instead of the recommended 4...Nc6. Of course I did not know that at the time. Lev's move order helps prevent rapid death from White pushing h4, etc. with "sac sac mate" (a la Fischer). Regardless we are both still in book.
After 7.Qd2, I recognize a structure from the Closed Sicilian, where White has a Bishop/Queen battery to eliminate my long diagonal Bishop on g7. So I play 7...Ng4 seeking to exchange the Knight for the Bishop. Here is where the game gets very interesting. In all the Closed Sicilian type batteries I've seen, White is supposed to play h3 to keep the Knight out. I figure, "heck White is letting my Knight in, might as well neutralize the battery". Of course White is not cooperative, and plays 8.Nxc6 which is ok (still in book, fairly even), but since my Queen is threatened I cannot ignore it even for one move, so I recapture with 8...bxc6 (for a stronger center) as opposed to dxc6 to open a diagonal (like Ruy Lopez). I paid for this later. After the recapture I have no center, my pieces are home bound, and then White moves his Bishop, eluding capture while I move my pawns all over the place trying to catch him, like an unwanted fly at a picnic!
9.Bf4 (now we are out of book) 9...e5 10. Bg5 (darn) f6 11.Be3 still allowing capture but my pawns are a wreck. At least I am thinking so during the game. I believe the game is ruined, and talk my way to defeat. However after 11...Nxe3 12.Qxe3, Houdini claims close to equal, maybe even in Black's favor a smidgen. However in order for that to be reality, I need to believe that and look hard to make it happen. I don't.
Even after 12...O-O 13.Bc4+ (demoralizing, but still equal!) 13...Kh8 14.h4 (wow, visions of sac sac mate dancing in my head) Houdini _still_ says the position is roughly equal, a smidgen in White's favor. Incredible. But then Black (that would be me) jumps off a cliff in a premature suicide.
If Black would simply try to exchange down, perhaps with 14...Qb6, equality can be maintained. With the text move Black hands White a huge advantage. 15.h5+- and Black feels the heat of the molten lead brewing in the background. And then Black, feeling pressure, sac sac mate, and cramped to boot, decides to settle things once and for all.
Thus Black reaches over and pours the hot molten lead on himself. Ugh.
16.h5, White panics, 16...h6?? How many double-exclam moves can Black make in a row? Three. And the position is a wreck. Game over.
Now for the funny part. While going over the game I find out my opponent is in college, and started playing chess as a very young child, winning 3rd place in a state K-3 championship out west (I think Colorado). He still plays competitively at the college level, but maybe not rated? His USCF rating is only 1000... SIgh. Meanwhile he _loves_ playing against the Sicilian in blitz games on ICC where he maintains a 1700 rating.
Good lesson, but I am bummed that I resorted to my old way of thinking and caved in to my opponents will, instead of fighting and figuring it out. Until the point where I made three double exclam moves in a row I had a roughly equal position, but in my head and heart I thought I was dead lost.
Shame on me.