I tried to predict my opponent and I decided before the game that I do not want to let him play his Scotch gambit, in which he two times got an opening advantage and eventually won. Petroff defense looked like a good alternative. It was exactly what happened.
I played all the right moves in the opening, though spent quite some time. I think 22… f5 was a first mistake, then 24… dxc4. I didn’t like 24… Nc7 because of 25. c5 and my bishop is hanging on e7. But bishop just could go to d8 then and it is alright. Opening of the position was better for him with constant threat of d5 and pressing on my weak pawns on the kingside.
I played 42… Rxd4 having already less than 5 minutes, it was a bad move. Fritz recommends f5 and thinks I could hold this position. He later played g4 and created “f” passed pawn. This pawn became very dangerous, I was playing on increment having only 10-15 seconds and finally lost on time.
I came to this round without big expectations, knowing that I will get somebody from the very top. I got a master who didn’t play officially for 16 years. Still he beat 1760 and 1830 rated guys.
I got White and in the sharp line of Sicilian, Moscow variation – 3… Nd7 played a quiet line 4. O-O a6 5. Be2. Then there was some maneuvering with exchanges. Fritz didn’t like my 23. Rc1, not that I liked that much myself.
After he played 27… e5, I felt a relief, he closed an important diagonal. I ignored his kingside pawn movements, then saw that I have “f5” square. When I put my knight on f5, I thought I got an advantage, but then realized that I can’t break through. I started to repeat the moves, we both didn’t have much time left. On move 42 there was a 3-fold repetition, but I didn’t see it.
I thought that he will agree to a draw soon, but he decided otherwise and played 43… Qd7 and 44… Ne6. It was still a draw after 45. Qa6 Qd2, but he made a decisive mistake playing 45… Kg6. I played 46. Qxa5, he took his queen, then left it, thought for some time and took his knight. I told him that he touched his queen and has to move it. He looked a bit surprised, then played Qd2. It looked to me like him going into a bad endgame, but even Fritz has nothing better, so it was lost before, after Kg6.
When my remaining time dropped below 5 minutes I stopped to write the moves, we have a rule allowing it. I was sure I will win this endgame even having that much time, the win was just a matter of technique. I remember that eventually I had “b”, “f” and “h” passed pawns, he had none.
My opponent in the first round was a boy, never played with him before. I had White and played Ruy Lopez. I managed to get a very good position, but missed 17. Nd5! Then I didn’t see that 18. Qg3 was winning. Instead of that I, being afraid that he will escape with O-O-O, played 18. d6?? which would work for 18… exd6, but not for Qxd6. I realized right away that I lost all my advantage and probably being under influence of that played a few more bad moves. I could be in trouble after 21… Qd4+, but he didn’t play it.
He offered a draw a few moves after queens exchange, I refused. I didn’t like his Kd8 and tried to outmaneuver him. It worked, I won a pawn. Then after 47. h5 I started to feel that I have a real chance to win.
Fritz thinks that 52. a4 was giving me a much better chance that Rxf6, it creates a position where I have passed “a” and “h” pawns. Anyway, after that he played too passively and my “g” and “h” pawns became a real threat. 55… c4 was too late. In the end my passed pawns were stronger than his rook.