I predicted my opponent right, it was a young guy to whom I lost with Black 3.5 months ago. This time I had White, I knew it will be Sicilian 2… d6, and so it was, here is the game. I played Moscow variation and after Bxd7+ he replied 4… Nxd7. I don’t think it’s a good continuation, if Nd7 instead of 3… Bd7 – yes, it is very sharp and interesting, but now … it’s just that the knight is placed much better on c6, I think. Then when he played e5, I thought that I can take control of “d” line and threaten Nxe5. After Qb6 the natural move would be Be3, but I didn’t like Qb4, maybe because it attacked “e4” pawn, though simple a3 would force the queen to go away. I ran engines shootouts from that point and the result was 3.5:0.5.
My plan with Nd5 suddenly was rebuffed by Qc4 and I realized that he equalizes easily. I remembered right away how in the past I would get upset and play worse after losing advantage, so I told myself: “I don’t care it’s a win or a draw or whatever, I just play for the best possible result in this situation”. It worked. His “f5” looked dangerous, but actually I think it’s just distracted him from the right plan with exchanging the rooks on “d” line and getting control of it afterwards.
He spent a lot of time starting from the opening, so I had at least twice more time. It was probably a factor, also the position looked pretty equal when he offered me a draw. I wanted to get revenge, I had a loss in the first round and also I thought that his knight and bishop are not well placed, especially knight, so all together … I said: “I would play more”. He said: “I would probably do that too…”.
I had a strange case of blindness after 26. Kf2. I suddenly thought that he can take on e3 with a rook and then skewer me with the bishop on g5. I got chills for 15-20 seconds, then I realized that my knight on h3 controls g5.
I think he consciously started to play for a draw, exchanging the rooks and then trying to exchange the pawns on the queenside. After 29… a5 he probably thought he succeeded, because he offered a draw again. I almost said yes, saying: “Just a minute” and suddenly I saw that I win a pawn. I realized soon that he will get the pawn back, but I got a plan with the pawn distracting his king while my king penetrates into his territory. It started to look like a win and it was one.