Failing in the Critical Moment
In my final game for the qualifier tournament at the DHLC, I won again, this time against the highest rated player I have faced so far in the event, but this turned to be the game that I'm least happy with. I will skip further introduction and get right to my patzer-yet-computer-aided annotations, and will pause at some important moments in the game for you to challenge yourselves if you wish.
Can black take the c pawn and equalize? Try to calculate for yourself.
This is a genuine question, not of the "challenge yourself" type. How would you evaluate this position?
It seems I have completely overestimated white's position here. I was thinking, hey, I have the more active rook and much more active king on an endgame, plus, I have a queenside majority, and as if all that weren't enough, I have the extra pawn. Could things get better for white? But apparently, the advantage is just half a pawn's worth here. The rook is tied to the defense of the pawn, and the king is cut off from the fifth rank. Uhm, well, even after saying that, it still doesn't make sense to me. I'm just the computer's human pet when it comes to endgame analysis :)
OK, so, we have reached the "critical moment" of the game. You're in check. What would you do? It's not as straightforward as it seems, so be careful. There's a single best move for white.
1) It was my first time playing e4 in a slow game in perhaps 6 years. I know no theory, yet I got exactly what I wished for: A sharp position right out of the opening, and black made a miscalculation (probably that they could play 15...Qxc2??) and entered the endgame with a clear pawn up. So far, so good.
2) I didn't evaluate the rook ending correctly, overestimating my advantage at move 30.Rg4. Still have no idea why the computer thinks this position is a draw. Conceptual endgame analysis is definitely one of my weakest areas, and if I want to match up to the big guns (expert level players), I have to overcome that weakness.
3) In the critical position, I completely failed up to the task, missing every relevant and important aspect of the position. The worst part is that I didn't even realize it was the critical moment of the game, and didn't bother to calculate, making my move right away wondering when black is going to resign. I was very lucky that my opponent missed it too, but against the "big guns," that is never going to happen. I have to be much more alert tactically, at every point in the game, and even more so in critical ones.
So that's it from this week. Now that I have qualified, I signed up for 2 tournaments at the DHLC, and I'm hoping things will get much more exciting from now on because they are going to last 5-7 rounds and my overall score and ranking in the event will be significant. Hope this was interesting and instructive. Any feedback is appreciated. Good chess and good week to everyone.