This was a 5-0 blitz, I played White, my opponent was rated more than 100 points higher than me, when Black resigned we each had almost 4 minutes left on our clocks. It's not unusual for me to beat someone rated that highly -- in fact his rating was lower than my personal all-time high. And no, my high didn't come when I was new and my rating was still close to provisional, it came recently, after I'd played thousands of games -- but it is rather unusual for me to beat someone with a rating like that in so few moves and so little time. Some of the questions which analysis of this game presents to me are:
Did I win because my opponent made an uncharacteristic blunder, or did I beat his best game?
If it was the former, how soon did he blunder? I couldn't see anything which looked to me like a terrible move on his part. To me. That is not to say that none of his moves looked like a blunder to him, making him wince a second after he'd done it. And of course much less that a Grandmaster observing the game wouldn't have seen blunders. As an Expert once told me, chess is a game of mistakes. He who makes the least mistakes wins. Weaker players constantly make mistakes which stronger players spot and exploit, this is why the stronger players win. I assume that a Grandmaster observing a game between players on this level would almost always easily spot blunders all over the place as soon as the 10th move or sooner. I say that with the caveat that I know that it's risky to assume anything about Grandmaster-level chess. What they do is way, way, way over my head. More often than not even the commentary they write for the general chess public is over my head. When it comes to chess, in short, Grandmasters and I represent two entirely different species of primates.
Was 11. ...Nd5 a terrible mistake? Or was Black doomed much earlier, perhaps as early as 4. ...a6? I'm used to seeing 4. ...exd4 at this point, followed by 5.Qxd4 Bd7 6.Bxc6. Modern Chess Openings, 13th ed, 1990, refers to this line as "old" and "better for White." I can't find 4. ...a6 in there. (Which doesn't necessarily mean it's not in there.) I googled "1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 a6," though, and I couldn't find anyone putting a bunch of "???"'s after. 4. ...a6. Not that that necessarily says more about the soundness of 4. ...a6 than about my ability to find sound chess analysis.
Was Black right to resign after 15.Re1? Black is down by three Pawns, White's Queen, his Rook on e1 and his Pawn on d6 all looked pretty well-placed. If two Grandmasters were playing, it would probably be reasonable for Black to resign at this point. I qualify it with "probably" because, again, I can't keep up with what those guys do. Maybe there's a shockingly-obvious advantage for Black by the 25th move for those who can see 10 moves ahead. If I'm really cookin' I can sometimes see 5 moves ahead.
How much better than me would a player have to be to take over for Black at this point and be reasonably confident of beating me?