Friday, May 24, 2013

Hang In There, You Never Know (Not In Below-Expert-Level Chess, Anyway)

I was really surprised to win this game:

1. e4 c5 2. ♘f3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. ♘xd4 ♘f6 5. f3 e5 6. ♘b5 a6 7. ♘5a3 d5 8. exd5 ♗xa3 9. ♘xa3 ♕xd5 10. ♗d3 O-O 11. c4 ♕d8 12. ♗e3 ♖e8 13. O-O e4 14. fxe4 ♘xe4 15. ♕c2 ♘f6 16. ♖ad1 ♗d7 17. ♗g5 ♕c8 18. ♗xf6 gxf6 19. ♖xf6 ♕c5 20. ♔h1 ♕e5 21. ♖df1 ♗e6 22. ♗xh7 ♔h8 23. ♗d3 ♘c6 24. ♕f2 ♘b4 25. ♕h4 ♔g8 26. ♕h7 ♔f8 27. ♗g6 ♔e7 28. ♕h4 ♔d7 29. ♖d1 ♔c7 30. ♗xf7 ♖h8 0-1 {White forfeits on time}

Like most of the games of chess I've blogged about, this one was a 5-0 blitz: 5 minutes per side. 5 minutes to make all of your moves. When it's your turn, your clock starts to wind down from 5 minutes. When you move, your clock stops and your opponent's clock starts. That's the 5 part. The 0 means no time is added to your clock when you move. In a 2-5 blitz, you begin with 2 minutes each, except that every time you move, 5 seconds is added to your clock. That added 5 seconds is called an increment. 2-5, 2-12 and 5-5 are some popular incremental games. I dislike incremental games, because they can go on for. Ever. Feels that way, anyway.

So. I was playing black in the game recorded above. My opponent was rated about 100 points higher than I. That's somewhat of a lot. My opponent's opening is unconventional, and I thought I might be able to grab an advantage. But no. Actually, I should back up a bit: what my opponent did beginning with 5.f3 was unfamiliar to me. I'm much more used to seeing 5.Nc3 at this point in this kind of Sicilian (1.e4 c5) opening. That doesn't necessarily mean that 5.f3 hasn't been played and analyzed a lot by strong players. I couldn't find it in Chess Informant 65, but Chess Informant 65 was published 17 years ago. 17 years is a long time in chess. Longer the higher the level of chess being played. Only 5 hits on Google, though. Not very many at all. I think we can, almost officially, say that this guy was trying something different on his own. Going out on a limb. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. Especially if you're trying to shake up a weaker opponent who's known to be very conventional in his openings.

And it worked, he had me in a stranglehold for most of the game. Until I suddenly turned it around with 27. ...♔e7, saw through the temptation of taking the Bishop on f7 on my 30th move and instead played 30. ...♖h8, threatening White with either the loss of his queen or ♕xh2, checkmate, and after having been down on time with 30 seconds to his 1 minute and 22 seconds after my 27th move, he ran out of time after my 30th move while I still had 9.6 seconds -- quite a lot in a situation like this. In this game and the last one I blogged about, I was in a situation which felt hopeless, against a player significantly stronger than I. But both times I kept looking for a way out, and both times, to my surprise, I found one.

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