Friday, June 22, 2007

Learning From Disasters

Here is a game from just a little while before I took my hiatus - a game where I lost miserably. I often find that while such experiences are miserable, depressing even, they are some of the best learning experiences.
I was playing Daniel Schmidt, a fellow trivia player from Chris Chase's team at Pizzeria Uno's, and was initially excited at the opportunity to play another 1800 player - most of my games are either against higher or lower rated opponents. Apparently, he was experimenting with the 2 Knights' Sicilian for the first time, and I was playing a line that I had studied a bit, so I should have had the edge...

White: Joshua Haunstrup (1826)
Black: Daniel Schmidt (1828)
Event: BCC October TNIS (2)
Date: October 12, 2006
(B45 Sicilian, Taimanov V)
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Ndb5 Bb4
For those unfamiliar, 6...d6 is a popular move here with a transposition to the Sveshnikov.
This is a move that Judit Polgar popularized, and it has a nice aggression to it, but it may not be the theoretically strongest - just good for some fun, at least that is what I hoped...
8.Nc7+ Kf8
9.Qf3 d5
10.0-0-0 Nxc3?!

This move came as a big surprise. I was aware of the possibility of 10...Rb8 and of 10...e5, but I hadn't even really thought about the Knight capture, evidently because it's not very good, but in the moment, I got stumped, and sat there very confused. I couldn't figure out what would happen after 11...Ba3+ If 12.Kb1, I was afraid of the impending mate threats with a queen swing over to b6. Horror of horrors though, I hadn't even seen somehow that if my knight takes on a8, the queen has no access to my king. Obviously such lines are very nerve wracking, but white should be fine, better eventually, with good chances for eventual success. In the game, I suffered a total calculating collapse, and went in for the groveling retreat to d2 after which I lost without much fight.
11.bxc3 Ba3+
12.Kd2? e5
13.Nxa8 exf4
14.Ke1 Be6
15.Be2 Bd6
16.Rxd5 Bxd5
17.Qxd5 g6
18.Kd2 Kg7
19.Bc4 Qd7
20.h4 Rxa8
21.h5 Rd8
22.hxg6 hxg6
23.Bd3 Be7
24.Qf3 Bg5
25.Ke2 Ne5
26.Qe4 Nxd3
Obviously, it was well past the point for giving up. This game was a real eye opener, and very miserable. Reflecting on it afterwards, I realized that probably the most important mistake was just the result of bad calculating. However, I suppose that more universally, the game demonstrated the dangers of playing a dangerous and complex variation without first having spent much time in analysis of sidelines and natural responses. It's easy to get in over your head!


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