Monday, June 27, 2011

Memorable Game 10: Last Round, 2010 Alaska State Ch. R. Pearson-James Perrin 0-1

It's the last round of the 2010 Alaska State Championship. Having scored 3-1 in the first four rounds, a win in the final round would assure a share of second place, some cash and a ratings gain. I felt like I was tuned up after only five rated games in the previous 18 months.

I had watched my opponent get through the previous rounds and while he was playing pretty well for a 1400 player, there had been a certain amount of luck involved. I had seen him play the King's Indian as black and thought out an approach for this critical last round game: Keep it as tense and complicated as possible, stay ahead on the clock and wait for the mistake that must come, sooner or later...

Only one problem--he didn't "cooperate" and after a tense struggle I finally became too focused on "my attack" and in a couple of moves he was winning. This game is a good example of the psychology of "must win" situations, where a player's objectivity about the position goes lost.

I'll admit it took the rest of the day to get over this game. After spending hundreds of dollars on travel and three days in the sub-zero cold of Anchorage, Alaska, I felt like I'd come away with nothing. Nothing but humiliation, anyway. I felt seriously like retiring from tournament chess, and said so after the game to my friends.

Looking back with some objectivity, justice was done. He played well (especially for his rating) and deserved to win. I need to learn from this defeat and get better, not whine. Still, I have had few losses in my career that stung quite this much, so this is Memorable Game 10:


LinuxGuy said...

I couldn't afford to play in a 5-round tournament in Denver this weekend, although I would have had a fair chance to win some prize money, so I feel exactly where you are at!

You posted this game, so probably wouldn't mind seeing some commentary on it from others. :-)

I've played in enough tournament games to know how to handle situations as White against much lower-rated players.

Ivan, from 'Getting to 2000', made the same mistake in his last game that he posted. It seems to revolve around this 'play for a win' notion.

You chose a slow system for this game (or at least for me it would be, but it is a fine one to choose). The secret is to get a better position, then if there are trades they usually won't detract, and may even enhance your position. In fact, a good way to lose is probably to try too hard at avoiding piece exchanges.

Bd3-c2, it would be desireable for White to have Black trade that bishop for his knight. Petrosian's system was to play Be3xNc5, and he won the majority of his games against the KID, it was a specialty of his. I am just saying, he did it with a piece-trade.

..Qf8 looks funky. You should already be thinking to yourself that b4 will probably win the game. ..Nb4 seems to have little point to it, since BxNc5 followed by Nb4-e3 doesn't appear to threaten much, dunno.

I didn't like f4, since I wouldn't want to develop his attack, which would otherwise look slow, and your pieces are still sort of tangled up on the queenside.

I didn't like Bg5, would prefer to see some development with Rad1, but I guess you have to take the pawn right away instead.

Bd3. Bc2, then Nd3 is probably better since you have no control over d4 after Bd3, and that bishop isn't needed there to guard the c4 pawn.

Na2? At this point, you've bought the cow with Nb4 and need to make milk with it. Trading on c6 would be better, even aiming for crazy stuff like Na6 and c5. That bees-hive on the kingside, let it sit, blocking in his dangerous dark-squared bishop.

After ..Qb6 Kh1? (h3 was probably your last practical chance), your position falls like the house of cards that it has become. It's like an episode of "Hoarders" where the public gets to see the pig-stie inside of their house, the poor arrangement of pieces is exposed.

On the face of it, White's position doesn't look that bad, but the dynamism favors Black. It's like in the Open Sicilian where one tempo can be all it takes, and the position is very "open" now (about to be).

You've posted some nice games here. I think this one was about not knowing how to best approach a must-win game. Just play good, solid chess. ;-)

Wahrheit said...

Thanks for the comments, I agree with most everything you said on the moves--I seem to have left out a note I had made earlier that 30. h3 was mandatory. The one thing I disagree with you on is 17. f4 which I think is pretty good. Maybe I am just in love with my own ideas aand it doesn't deserve a ! though.

As to the overall approach, it seemed pretty good right up to the last five moves or so. Playing "good, solid chess" works well in all situations, however! :)

LinuxGuy said...

You are right, f4 definitely had it's plusses. I probably would have played e4xf5 instead, but maybe f4 is stronger. It does appear to be a move that one spent much time over.

Giving it another look-see, Qf4-h4 seems to be the culprit. If Qd4 instead, White threatens to play Qd4-a7 (it also keeps Black's queen out of b6). Black can't play ..Qb8 else White wins the bishop on f6. So ..b6 will probably happen, but then Nc6 and White's knight is good (if Black allows Qa7 and then plays, then after Nc6 the White queen is threatening to take the a4 pawn) If BxNc6 dxBc6, it is Black's move, but White is threating Bd3-c2xa4. ..Ne8 looks like it will fail to QxBg7+, so I suppose you were right after all. :-)

Rolling Pawns said...

Defeat in the last round is always very painful, especially if you were in a good position. I was a few times in this situation. You need to take it easy, forget about "must win", and just play solid. Good example of it is decisive game, that Kasparov won against Karpov in 1987:

Liquid Egg Product said...

I find the simplest way to dispatch lower-rated players is simply "play good chess". Even more than that is to be patient.

There are reasons why that player is worse than you. Trying too quickly to "prove" it is a path to disaster. (A particularly embarrassing draw to a 1200 rated kid...after being up a piece...comes to mind)

Wahrheit said...

Y'see guys, I thought I was playing "good solid chess." I wasn't doing anything risky or attacking like mad. I would diagnose the psychological error as not transitioning to a new way of thinking after his 28. ...c6. White still has a good chance to win after 29. dxc6. I was trying to "exploit the pins" when there was no more exploiting there. More flexible thinking about what's changed inthe position is the cure, I think.

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Anonymous said...

Excellent post and interesting game. I'd rather see a loss that's instructive from both a chess and a psychological viewpoint, than a one-sided win that contributes nothing.

I'm a Class B player and in the more recent past have obtained better results along with experiencing less angst, now that I mentally ignore the opponent's rating and focus on the chess. I've found that I do better and remain calmer against both higher and lower-rated players that way. Sometimes more difficult to do if there's money on the line, admittedly. Anything that's a mental distraction from the game becomes a...mental distraction.