I got an expected opponent on Thursday – girl rated ~1750 and she played the expected Four Knights, Scotch variation. I prepared for the game and learned the first 10 moves of the mainline. I played before 3 OTB games with this variation, =2, -1.

I played my 10 moves, then was on my own. Now I would probably put the bishop on b7, not on e6, but during the game I thought that I can get a play on “b” vertical, though never did. After 14. Re1 I realized that her goal was probably not to take on e6, but to play Nh5. I planned to reply f5 and that’s what happened. On move 18 I suddenly got worried that she could play 18. Rxe6 and then 19. Bxf5, but a calm answer 18… g6 leaves Black with  a queen for a rook and a bishop.

After 22 moves I started to think that I can intercept the initiative. Computer recommends d4 without c4, but still it is only a few tenths of a pawn for Black maximum in any line. 29… Rd6 could end up with advantage for White after 30. Qa8+, instead tricky 29… Qc7 was giving Black an equality.

Around move 35 she offered a draw, I refused. We eventually exchanged the rooks and the queens. I don’t know what I was counting on in that two bishops endgame, it was absolutely equal. she just had a few minutes less and we both got under 5 minutes. I continued to play, probably waiting for a blunder, but actually did it myself, getting under a skewer and losing my “a” pawn. Then she won my lone “h” pawn with her king and bishop. The only thing that could save me was the fact that her “a” pawn’s queening square was a light one and remaining bishops were dark-colored. Here is the critical position as I remember it. To my delight she played f6 and I took her pawn right away. Then I just moved my king to the corner. She didn’t know that ending and tried to win somehow, but eventually realized that there is no win and agreed to a draw.

One guy told me after the game that it is a draw already in the position on the diagram, but Nalimov database says it is a win for White in 20+ moves. Fritz finds a win with a deep enough ply depth. The idea is to push out the black bishop from the a1-h8 diagonal, then after pawn advances to f7 take control with the king over the short f8-h6 diagonal.

So, I definitely overpressed and tried too hard, the reasonable thing to do was to offer a draw somewhere around move 40.