The first (X/X) in the title is the date, the second is my score out of 3 for that day, 1 for a win 0.5 for a draw 0 for a loss.
We’ve got the black pieces and white plays e4, so we go d5, white plays e5, which is actually a position I’ve played a lot when I used to play the najdorf, via e4 c5 f4 d5. I know it is supposed to be really good for black but it still gives me some trouble.
We got here in about 7 seconds:
Both openings that I follow that transpose to this recommend Nge7 and just say black is better because he has an amazing version of the french. Trade the bishop on f3 when h3 comes. I’ve been playing Be7 so I need to remember Nge7.
White made some weird pawn pushes early, so I decided not to castle kingside, and eventually he made this mistake, allowing me to take twice on e5 and get a very important pawn:
Then we got to the following position, and I thought about which square to move my queen for a while, but picked one that I think I regret, though according to the engines it is exactly the same and I don’t really get a chance to unpin my queen for a while:
So now I’m stuck in this filthy pin:
I thought about sacrificing the exchange on f4 but decided that was a no-go, I didn’t see that you can immediately win back the exchange with Ng6. It was actually the best idea behind the brilliant Bg5! Where after Bxg5 there are two mate in twos to choose from.
I missed both of those and just kept a pleasant position (my opponent missed a crazy idea that would have slightly more than equalized, but it is nuts and ends with a bishop and knight mate if I retreat the wrong way…).
Instead of trading queens, which was his best bet, he tried to win material on e5, but unfortunately his calculations were off. Before this move he had 5 minutes to my 3. He actually spent a minute and a half before making the losing move, sometimes that happens to me where I calculate something, see it doesn’t work, calculate a bunch of other things, then see that first thing and am like “well fuck it, nothing else works”, forgetting that that definitely doesn’t work.
His defense was stubborn so I ended up trading into this endgame and winning a time scramble:
We’ve got the black pieces and (I think) our first 1. d4 player of the new year. We play d5 and he goes into something really weird by move 3:
c5 is the most popular move among masters:
It’s also what Wesley So chose against Shak in 2019: https://lichess.org/TuwfGmwT/black#5 so I think it’s good enough for me.
It isn’t the most popular at lower levels, but does score the best:
I, like apparently the plurality of plebes, played Bf5.
Shit got weird, fast:
Apparently h6 totally equalizes, everything else isn’t good. I played h5, whoops.
We eventually reached this position, where I am up a pawn but hopelessly lost:
Miraculously, I was able to trade pieces and get my king tucked away safely on h7 after several close calls:
It now felt like I was in the driver’s seat (and I was). I had about 3 minutes left to his 5.
I managed to trade down and win a ton of material, but did use up my clock, now with 43 seconds versus his 3:09:
But my material was too much, and I delivered mate with 7.1s to spare:
Game 3! Feeling good after two wins. Love having a 3-0 day.
We started off in a French:
Luckily, after our mishap from day 2 game 2 I went back to do some research (studying how to play better against the french is on my short-list, I am not scoring well at all in my rapid games):
This time I knew my prep and came out ahead a clean pawn:
From here it was just a matter of developing well, coordinating my pieces, and trading down into a winning end game.
I missed a nasty tactic here:
Do you see it?
I played Bxd5, which is fine but loses some of the momentum because after exd5 Rxd5 it is a little tricky to develop the knight and rook without dropping the f4 pawn. Rxd5!! very nasty. exd5 Bxd5+! then black’s best bet is Rf7 and you can take that rook at your leisure and be up two clean pawns.
We ended up getting here (still have problems developing my king side…:
I thought his knight was trapped, but he ended up getting it out, I calculated to here:
But I didn’t see b4. We both had about 5 minutes.
I got the better of him with some maneuvering around the c pawn, and eventually he blundered into a fork:
First 3-0 day of the new year!