This Latin quote means “Time flies, the hour flees”, it well reflects what happened in the end of the game. My opponent was a young man rated 1874, I lost to him 5 months ago. He had White and we played Queen’s pawn opening. I played 4… Bg4, the book move is 4… Bf5. I didn’t quite like the pawn structure that I got after the opening.

After his 19. b4 I noticed that I can have the c4 square for my knight. His 20. Rdf1 was a mistake, computer says I had to play Qe7 right away, not on the next move. After 20… Qe7 21. b5 Qb4+ 22. Ka1 Nxa4 23. Nxa4 Qxa4+ 24. Kb2 Qb4+ 25. Kc1 Re7 the evaluation is -0.86. As soon as I played 21… Qe7 I thought that he is in trouble and my queen and knight can wreak havoc on his position.

I spent quite a lot of time, probably more than 15 minutes, deciding between 23… Nc4 and 23… Nxa4. Computer says that I overestimated my position and even the better 23. Nxa4 is just equal, 23… Nc4 is about +0.5. Computer considers his 29. Qg3 a mistake, giving up the advantage. After the queens exchange the position equalized. On move 39 I saw that he has Rxa7 with a fork and impulsively played Rf7. It is a best move by the way, but I had to foresee the consequences.

I thought that after the check 40… Rf1+ I have Re1 and can capture the “e” pawn, but then noticed Nd3 and I can’t take the pawn because of the fork on c5. The only right move was 41… Rf8, Re1 was a big mistake. He returned the favor by 43. Nc5+? , the right move was Ne5. Then my Kb8? allowed him to play Nd7+ and Ne5, he didn’t do that.

The struggle continued and after his 51. Nc5 I missed a clear forced draw. After 51… Rb5 52. Ra2 Na5+ 53. Ka3 Nc4 54. Kb3 Black has a perpetual. I have to say that in the early middlegame he had a big advantage in time, then he started to think more. Still by that time I had less than 5 minutes and he had more than 20.

When he played 57. Rf7+ I saw that I can’t take the rook. After he queened his pawn I suddenly noticed that I have just 3 seconds left and quickly took the queen. I saw that my time jumped to 31 second and then honestly I don’t know what happened with me, I think I was afraid to get mated and thought on actually only move Kb6. To my horror I saw that he points to the clock where my time was out. Another disappointing thing happened at home when the computer evaluated the final position as 0.00.

I decided “to change the decorations” and went to the old club yesterday. The drive wasn’t very pleasant, but after 1 hour 5 minutes I was finally there. I restored my club membership and registered for a new tournament in the 1600+ section. I got Black and after a few moves remembered my opponent, it was the same boy I beat in February 2020 in the last round of the big tournament.

The difference was his rating, then it was less than 1700 and now it was supposed to be much higher (after the game I learned that it was 2039). He played the same Italian game, but deviated with 5. d3 instead of 5. d4. After his 13. Ng3 I knew that I have to play actively and followed with d5. The goal of 18… Qd3 was to exchange the queens in order to devalue his upcoming Nf5.

It was a shocker when computer told me that his 31. Nh4 was very bad and 31… Nxg3!! was winning the game. After 31. Nh4 Nxg3 32. fxg3 Qf1 White has to play 33. Ng2 and give up the rook in order to defend from the mate threat on the 1st horizontal. Interesting that the same possibility existed on the next move too.

The struggle continued and computer thinks that on moves 36 and 37 I missed Rd3 with advantage. I have to say that we was spending essentially more time than me. I remember it was like 8 minutes vs 32. It looked like he was going down on time. It was affecting me, I tried to keep the pressure, not simplify the position and maybe didn’t think enough about just making a best move.

When he had just about 10 seconds left, I made rather psychological than chess mistake. After his 46. Nf3 the best was 46… Rc2, but I played Rd8. He exchanged the rooks, I offered a draw after that, he refused. 46… Rd8 was a 2nd choice, but I allowed him to simplify the position. From that point it was like a phoenix resurrection, he played fast and well.

My 49… Kg6 was a mistake, after his 50. Qd5 I suddenly noticed that he has Qxc6, so had to move the king back. Playing 49… Nd4 would lead to an equal position, I still played Nd4 two moves later in a worse redaction. I think 57. c6 was not a best move, before it White wins in shoutouts.

The decisive moment came when he played 72. Qf5. I saw the check on g1 and soon started to hope that I can draw this game. I could not recover the last 9 moves, but on moves 85 and 86 his king was on the squares b6 and a7 pursued by my queen. At that moment He eventually offered a draw, computer evaluation is 0.00.

My guess about the opponent as well as the color was right, but when he thought for some time after my 1. e4, I realized that it will be no repeating Ruy Lopez, Breyer variation as it was 3 months ago. He played Sicilian and we got Canal-Sokolsky attack as it was in my last OTB game. My 8. Bf4 was a novelty, I didn’t want to put it on e3 because of Ng4.

Computer doesn’t like my 11. Qc1 and thinks that even Nbd2 is better. 14… Nh5 started a plan to put a knight on f4. Unfortunately I didn’t find how to refute this plan. Computer recommends 15. a4, that would be really helpful in light of the future events. On move 17 it was an opportunity to play g3, I hesitated because of Nh4 sacrifice threat. But after 17. g3 Nhf4 18. gxf4 Nxf4 19. Bxf4 exf4 20. e5! Bxh3 21. Qxf4 White is almost +2.

I also considered 17. Bh6, but thought that after 17… Bxh6 18. Qxh6 Nef4 my queen could be in trouble. That was a wrong assumption. Instead I played 17. N3h2 with the idea of moving the queen to f3, I just couldn’t find a good place for my pieces. My position was gradually getting worse. I had a good advantage in time after the opening, but later it disappeared and we had about 35 minutes each.

I don’t know how to explain what happened next. Before the round my acquaintance told me that I look tired, so maybe I didn’t make a full recovery yet. I wanted to get rid of his knight on f4 and played 27. Ne2. It was a game losing mistake, as he suddenly exchanged the rooks and played Nd3. In a few moves his 32… Bf2+ finished the game.

It was a 4th round, instead of the expected veteran I got a teenager with whom I played in August. He was underrated then, I almost lost to him, he blundered in the end. This time I had White, he played Sicilian, we ended up with Canal-Sokolsky variation. His 9… Nxd4 was a second choice, I don’t remember anyone playing it against me. I thought that 11. Qd3 is a bit too careful, but didn’t want to worry about my queen being on the a1-h8 diagonal, computer actually approves it.

Thinking after the game about my play, I thought that 17. Nd5 was probably not a good idea, giving away all my small advantage, computer confirmed that. One of the reasons I didn’t hesitate to simplify the position was my better pawn structure on the queenside. On move 18 he suddenly played b5, it seemed to me that if I take on b5 he would get the pawn back soon and I will end up with 2 isolated pawns, so I didn’t bite. During the post-mortem with my opponent I realized that I can play b6 and Black has a big problem. Computer evaluates the position as +2.4 and easily wins for White in shootouts.

After his 24… Qa7+ I decided that he intercepted the initiative, computer considers the position practically equal. When he played 28… Qa3 I got really unpleasant feeling that I can lose my bishop due to the pin, then I found 29. Qd2 with 30. Bb2 coming after 29… Rc8. I just started to feel OK after 32. Kh2 when I noticed that the increment again is not working. He had 27 minutes and I had about 12 minutes. We stopped the clock and went to TD assistant, the TD himself was playing. The clock was reset after a few attempts and we started to play again. He moved his queen to e5 with the check and offered a draw. After all this drama and seeing that the position is equal, I agreed right away.

The computer evaluates the final position as -0.09. The guy was really nice, we analyzed the game afterwards.

It was a second round in Mondays club, my opponent was a boy, I got White. I played Ruy Lopez and we ended up with Zaitsev variation. I played before 1 game with it with White, won and lost 2 games with Black. His 10… exd4 is only 5th choice with almost 71% score for White. It looks premature. The move 11… h6 has 89% score for White.

On move 17 I deviated from the book with Bf4, computer prefers b3. His 18… g5 was not a good move, computer confirms that. It likes my Bd2 the most, though also considers Nf5 and Nxg5 with ~0.5 evaluation. I thought about Nf5, but he covered f5 square with 19. Bc8, though computer prefers Nc4. I considered 20. b3, but didn’t want to open the diagonal with my rook hanging, so played Rb1.

My 21. Bc3 was played to avoid the exchange, it was also setting a trap at the same time. If 21… b4 then 22. Bxf6 Bxf6 23. Ba4 when the best for Black is 23… Ne5 24. Bxe8 Nxf3+ 25. gxf3 Qxe8 and ~1.3 evaluation. Maybe he read my mind when he played 21… Bd7. Then I made a rather controversial decision.

Computer says I could calmly play 23. Qd2 keeping my advantage, but I thought about the progress on the kingside and didn’t see how I can get any. So I decided to exchange my bishop and then play Nh5. On move 26 he made a big mistake playing c4. I didn’t realize at that moment that I can already sacrifice on c3 and played 27. Qd1. As soon as he played 27… a5 I took on c3, with the idea of playing Qd4 threating with the mate.

Of course I considered 31. Nh5 instead of immediately getting the exchange back, but didn’t like 31. Rg8 with f6 and g7 squares covered after that. Computer says I have a winning attack after 32. e5, the move I actually played next. My 35. Re1 wasn’t the best, I had to play bxc4 or d6. I saw that I am winning and just tried to play accurately.

We eventually transferred into a Q+B vs. Q+N endgame with a 3 spare pawns for White. I decided to exchange the light pieces and if possible the queens and he went along with it. The pawn endgame was lost, he saw it for himself in a few moves and resigned.

I thought that this expression belonged to the master from one of the Soviet Baltic republics, don’t remember his name, he was beating many known GMs in blitz. But I just found that it is attributed to GM Vlastimil Hort, so not sure who was the first to say that.

I came to the 3rd round in the Wednesdays club and got an unrated guy, having 1.5/2, same as me. I had Black and we played Queen’s Indian Accelerated, which transformed to Queen’s Gambit Declined, Orthodox. He spent a lot of time on the opening, maybe half of it. I decided to play sharp and went for the position with an isolated pawn with 12… cxd4. The computer prefers 12… Ne4 13. Bxe7 Qxe7 14. dxc5 Rxc5 still getting isolated pawn, but in a better redaction.

My 20… Qc8 wasn’t good, it counted on the fact that the knight on c3 couldn’t move, but 21. Nd3 changed that. So I lost a pawn, but stayed optimistic. He was behind on time by 10-12 minutes. Eventually we exchanged the queens and I got the pawn back. It was one of the crucial moments of the game.

After his 40. Nd6 I considered 40… Bc4, but wasn’t sure that after exchange on c4 my king gets there at the same time as his. It actually does and it is a draw, so I had to do a calculation. In a several moves I lost the pawn on b3, but the position was still drawn. Then another crucial moment came on move 51. I had less than 5 minutes at that time and he had around 1 minute, playing on 10 seconds increment.

The g5 idea was absolutely right, but it was badly implemented. My king and bishop were on the squares of the same color, the rules of blitz say don’t do that. So after my 51… g5?? 52. fxg5 hxg5 53. Nf3 I saw that I lose the pawn because of the fork threat. All I needed was to play 51. f6 first, then g5. The loss of the second pawn meant the loss of the game. I screwed up my scoresheet, in reality I resigned after 60+ moves.

It was a first round of a new tournament. My opponent was a teenager boy, never played him before. After the game I learned that his rating is 1758 and he played well in U1800 section in the previous tournament. I got Black and played Queen’s Indian Accelerated. He didn’t look very familiar with it and spent essentially more time than me.

I played c5 on move 12 (computer recommendation) and then kept tension in the center. Then I decided to provoke bishops exchange with 15… Ne4. After 25 moves I decided that the draw is close, by the way I overestimated my opponent’s 2nd place in the starting ranking list and thought that his rating is higher that I later learned.

So I offered the queen’s exchange. My original f6 idea changed to f5 after his 27. Kf3, computer doesn’t like that move and prefers 27. e4 with 0.45 evaluation. 27… f5 was a right move, but then a disaster struck. I blame it on my relaxing and thinking that the draw is already here. I had about 35 minutes left and he about 25, so plenty of time to think. The two next moves I made purely out of positional considerations and they both were bad.

Instead of 28… f4 there was 28… e4! 29. Ke2 Rf8 30. Rdd1 f4 with an equal and active play. 29… exf4 was even worse. As soon as he played 30. Re1 I got a horrible feeling that the game is lost. I saw that after the rooks exchange white king moves to f5 with a win. Keeping one rook as it happened in the game didn’t help either. My resistance couldn’t change anything and I resigned on move 48.

As a conclusion I can say that I played very carefully the first 25 moves. Then I estimated the position as simple, drawn and relaxed. In the last 5 games I had two rook endgames and two double rook ones, 3 of them were simple and this one not.

Coming to the second round I was able to guess my opponent. It was an old guy, I beat him just before Covid break. I expected Sicilian. I had 10 OTB games with Black after the Covid break and nobody played Sicilian against me. I suspect this is a trend, just checked the 7th round of the US Championship and found three 1.e4 e5 games and no Sicilians.

He played 2… d6, so we got Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky variation. Last time I played it it was December, 2019. He took on d7 with the knight, last time I had this line was in July, 2019. I have a good stats with this line – +4, =2, -1. I am saying all this for a reason. It shows a background.

I didn’t play this variation for a long time and the move 5. c4 I played for the first time. It is not to justify my bad play in the opening, but to understand it. Another reason was the underestimation of my opponent. He had a rating about 2000, 3 years ago, but his quality of play went down significantly during that time.

So my mistakes started from 9. 0-0. I forgot what a6 is played for, as well as that in this line the rook comes to c8 right away, since after the bishops exchange on d7 we have a knight and not a queen. After 9… Rc8 10. b3 b5 (and in all other lines) I simply lose “c4” pawn. He didn’t see it. Then he missed it again, finally I played 11. b3.

His 13… d5 came as a complete surprise, again I forgot to watch for it, as it is a typical move. Maybe because of the surprise I missed a simple reply – 14. exd5 exd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. cxd5 Qxd5 with an equality. So I decided to play 14. Qd2 and after 14… dxc4 intended to play 15. Nd5 with 15… Qd8 16. Nxe7+ Qxe7 17. bxc4 with an equal play. But I completely missed his 14… Bb4 which gave me a really bad feeling.

After I overcame an initial shock, I started to look out how to survive. I didn’t like 15. Nde2 as my knight on c3 was a sitting duck. It is indeed bad after 15… dxe4. So I decided to play 15. exd5 and suddenly he took with a knight. It was basically giving back all the advantage. As soon as I played 16. cxd5 he replied and I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was 16… exd5??. I played Nde2 almost right away.

After his 17… Rfe8 I moved my king from the a7-g2 diagonal to avoid any tactics. I immediately took the approach that I play safely and keep my advantage. It worked, though computer criticizes me for not playing 23. Bxf6 with 23… Rxc1 24. Nxc1 gxf6 25. Qf5. When I played 23. a4 I checked that 23… Rxc1 24. Rxc1 Rxc1 25. Nxc1 Bd2 doesn’t work because of Qc2 with a mate threat.

Eventually I simplified the position, then won “d5” pawn. I expected 28… Nxd5 29. Qxd5 Rd6, but suddenly he played 28… Qh4. I saw the fork right away and after 29. Ne7+ he resigned.

It was a 1st round of the club Championship and I got a familiar opponent, 1309 rated guy whom I beat about 3 months ago in a long endgame. He had White again, this time we played Giuoco Piano, four knights variation.

I was surprised by his 11. Bxc6, computer doesn’t like it either. On move 16 I noticed that he can’t defend his e4 pawn after Re8, f3 simply loses on the spot after Re5. He gave up a pawn and then played 18. Rd3 which wasn’t good.

After 20 moves for the moment the position reminded me the Scotch gambit, Dubois-Reti defense, with the same c7, c6, d5 pawns and bishops on b6 and d7. Too bad I forgot to remember the typical plan there – c6-c5 and d5-d4. I remember on move 21 I thought about his rook hanging on d3, but didn’t see how to use it. Then I played f5 with the f4 threat.

The computer told me that I missed a great opportunity – 21… c5! 22. Nc2 d4! winning a piece. Then he played 23. Ne2 and it kind of paralyzed me, as I thought that after Nf4 my attack will be gone. That probably explains my impulsive 23… Bxe3, instead 23… f4! was keeping up the pressure.

He eventually played 26. Nf4, which computer doesn’t like because of 26… g5!. Of course I saw g5, but opening up my king with his c3-c4 coming looked risky to me. In reality after 26… g5 27. Nh5 Rh4 28. Ng3 f4 29. exf4 Bg4 30. Qxg4 Rxg4 31. hxg4 Qxf4 Black is much better.

The last chance to keep the advantage was still play g5 on move 27. After 27. Be6 the series of exchanges happened and suddenly I found myself in a complete equal double rook endgame. I tried to use my advantage in time, but it eventually disappeared and I agreed to a draw.

It was the last round in the Mondays club and and I got the opponent that I didn’t expect as I got Black again. His King’s Gambit actually calmed me down instead of getting tense, as I played a lot of online games against it, though only two OTB. So after first three moves we got Nimzovich Variation. In this variation White tries to use its queenside pawn majority and Black the kingside one.

His 4. dxc6 was not a very good move, the best is 4. Nc3. After c4 I had a pre-move Bc7 if he would play c5, but when he did I saw Bxc5. It increased my advantage from ~-1.5 to ~-2. After 18. Nh5 I considered Qg4, but then decided that I have good chances with the queens on the board. Despite of that I played 20… Qd5, it was the best move. I have to say that he played very fast, almost only on 30 seconds increment. It didn’t give me any possibility to think on his time, so my time was going away quickly.

When he played 21. Qg3?, the crucial moment of the game came. Of course I saw Re5, but then I think I didn’t like 22. Bf4 probably because of 22… Rxh5 23. Bxd6 Bxd6 24. Rd1 not seeing that my bishop on d6 attacks his queen. This line is actually very bad and White is down two pieces. The better for White 22. Nf4 gives Black after 22… Rxg5 23. Nxd5 Rxg3 24. Nf6+ gxf6 25. hxg3 two pieces and pawn for the rook and a quick win according to shootouts.

I had to play 24… h6 instead of Qg4, but didn’t like my king’s position after 25. Bxh6 gxh6, though I would have two pieces for a rook. I forgot that I am already a pawn up. After his 26. Qxc6 I got tired of his 8th horizontal threats and played 26… Qc8 giving away all the advantage I would have after Bb6 which I missed.

After we exchanged queens I realized that the game is most probably drawn. He managed to win my “h” pawn, but all I needed was to move my king to the queenside which I did. The ensued rook endgame a- and b-pawns vs. a-pawn was theoretically drawn. After 65 moves my score missed some half-moves as I had less that 10 minutes and had to be quick. He had somewhat around 1 hour 15 minutes left.

I tried to be careful and hold the position. I had about 6 minutes left and played on increment. I told him at some point that I believe it is a draw. After 80 moves he came to the same conclusion. Funny that it reminded me a bit the last game before my one month break, when I let slip the advantage and ended up a pawn down in a drawn rook endgame.