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Better late than never

[imagefield_assist|fid=8576|preset=fullsize|lightbox=true|title=Image courtesy|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=375|height=250]I guess I should wrap up my Spice Cup report, or Dave Chappelle might send me a "Wrap It Up" button for the holidays.

I lost in the last round to IM Irina Krush. It was an up and down affair (don't tell Lynne!), and I made many mistakes in critical positions. I started out well, playing 1.b3! This is a good choice against Irina, who has quite extensive "book" knowledge in a lot of lines, but is not as experienced (aka old) as I in different positions. I have played 1.b3 often in blitz, and, I am starting to play 1.e4 a lot, so I figured she would have good prep for that.

The opening worked out well, as Irina played very slowly, and I was able to get a nice edge. I played a bit too aggressively (which is normal for me when I am playing badly) and soon Irina was fine and even seizing the initiative. After getting a nearly winning position, Irina started to falter in time trouble. My first big chance came after 26..Re4? I correctly pounced with 27.Rxg6+! Both sides played well until move 31, when I hallucinated with 32.Bg2(?) Instead of the winning 32.f3! I saw 32.f3 was likely good/winning, but thought 32.Bg2 was even stronger! I missed her strong reply 32...d4! After this, black is once again ok (GM Adorjan would be happy). Later, I found the best move with another rook sacrifice, 33.Rxf5! Then we both played badly between moves 35-38. The most egregious error was 37.Qf4+(?) when 37.Qf5(!) would have led to an easy win. The reason Qf5 is so much better than Qf4 is that my Knight has access to f4 after the former. My next error was at move 39, when almost any move is better than 39.Nf4? Irina also blundered on move 39, when she played Qb8? Better would have been 39..Qa5 or 39...c5, both with equality.

My 40th move was terrible as well! Instead 40.Qd7+ would give me a big advantage. Luckily, that was my last mistake in time trouble. (I'm also lucky that GM titles are for life!)  Irina has a lot of equalizing moves on move 40, but with seconds left played 40..Be5? Now I had time to think! Unfortunately, this did not help much. My 41st move was inaccurate (41.exd4 is best) and then Irina promptly made the horrible blunder 41..Bd6(??) losing immediately. Well, losing immediately if her opponent was a better player. Simply 42.Qg5+ wins the exchange (then I am 3 pawns for nothing!) or leads to quick mate. I did not look at 42.Qg5+ at all, and instead played the horrible 42.d5? I thought this won, but then realized (a few seconds before she played it) that 42..Kd8(!) is fine for black. Irina was winning later, but made another error with 51..Re7? Instead 51..Qc7 gives good winning chances. Now the game was a complete draw, but, I decided I still had a blunder in me, and made the total hallucination 55.Qh5?? I thought that if I played Qh8+ later, that somehow my Queen would attack d5, so Nxd5+ was a threat! Not sure why I thought Qh8 threatens d5, but that ended the game abruptly, and I was quickly mated.


This was one of the worst games I have ever played, and a not-so-surprising finish to one of my worst tournaments ever. I cannot really blame my new openings on my result, I just made too many blunders in equal/better positions.

Until next time.....