Brutal day, 1.5/3 but easily could have been 3/3! But we are closing in on 1800, so strong competition is to be expected!
Opened with this weird variation where white isn’t even trying for an advantage:
After trading queens I think I made a small mistake by playing Nc6 instead of Bf5/c6, he could have played an annoying Nb5:
We developed normally and I was able to get totally developed and castled long and he had played the weakening move f3 and his dark square bishop was still sitting around doing nada:
I leapt into a weakened d3 square to win the bishop pair:
With the position still pretty closed, I wasn’t sure if I had any advantage at all, but figured taking the half open d-file and trying to open the position up was a good idea:
He gave me pretty much what I wanted and we got a totally open d-file:
He started opening up the queenside, which was good counterplay:
I wasn’t really sure how to make progress:
I decided to trade a pair of rooks, and we got here:
I didn’t see how to make progress, in hindsight I could have played Rd1+ again and if his king came out checked on d2 and then brought my king in if he went to g3. Instead I traded rooks. From here I should have seen b5 was best:
We got this totally drawn position:
I was running low on time, so he pressed with c5+, but that’s losing!
Earlier I had seen the potential for a passed pawn on the kingside if he got too far out of position:
Tragically, I mouse-slipped while finishing him off:
I let go of the queen on g5 instead of h5+ (after which Ke6 Kf8 Qf7#!).
At least it was a draw and not a loss!
In the future, when I get here, I want to play Qd3 instead of Bx:
I got a nice little edge with the pawn structure, and didn’t want to give it back:
However, I played Qe4, which is well met by Nf6, Qd3 on the other hand would have created my threat on h7 and let me play Nxe6 on the next move, creating another pawn island.
We traded down, and at this point I should have realized c4 was a strategically key move to fix his weakness:
Instead I did some other things, which were not productive, and he played c4, and was ahead!:
Luckily for me, he blundered and I saw it right away:
An unimaginative Pirc player:
I pretty quickly got a position I liked a lot:
After building the pressure on the c6 Knight and the center he finally forced me to execute the plan:
I got the first five or six move of the execution exactly right, but then had to find either Bxc6 or Bd5 and fell short:
The thing I didn’t see what that here I could play Qa5 or Qxc6+ with Ne5 or Ne5 right away:
I also missed the excellent Nd5!! here:
The game was about equal when I traded into an end game, but I had used too much time trying to make my attack work:
He played both sides of the board nicely, and ended up mating me.
I’m pretty sure it is going to be finding those finishing moves against unambitious players like this that is going to be how I make my next jump in rating. I’m just not fast enough to calculate the sacrifices to break open the center that are often necessary.