I again had the same dilemma as a few days before trying to decide what to do – go to the club or watch playoff hockey and choose chess again. It was a last round and my opponent was an old guy whom I played several times before. I got Black and we played Queen’s Gambit, Slav defense, Exchange variation.

It was a completely equal and frankly, pretty boring position and I decided to “spice it up”.  I soon realized that it was a bad idea and I will be in trouble after 17. d5. Then we both made a few mistakes. Computer thinks he had to play 19. Rc1 with 19… Be7 20. d6 Bxd6 and White is having 1.75 advantage. Then I had to play 19… Bb8 making the position equal. Then again he could get advantage playing 20. d6.

So after 22 moves I suddenly found myself in a completely equal position. We continued to play and after we exchanged dark-colored bishops I got myself a better endgame due to his bad bishop. He realized that and offered a draw. I said I will play and he jokingly said that I have to prove it. After his 35. Bb4 I started to think what I can do and saw f4 pawn sacrifice.

I calculated 35… f4 36. gxf4 Bd8 37. h5 gxh5 line and thought that I am better, but didn’t like his passed “f” pawn and thought that he has a counter-play.  I didn’t feel like I have energy and didn’t want to risk the first place that I would share after a draw. So, I accepted his draw offer.

At home next day I ran a deep analysis of that sacrifice and computer told me that it was winning. His king has to go to the kingside to stop the “h” pawn, black bishop goes to h4, then after h2 Black exchanges “h” pawn to “f” pawn and then wins “e” pawn. Move f5 is met with Kd5. It was pity to see that it was possible to win.

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