It was a strange opening of the season in the club. First I was paired with a master, with whom I have a 0:3 score. So, I prepared to “die with a music” , even started the clock, then he came and said that he can’t play tonight (he is TD by the way), but there is a guy who got a bye,  so he can. So, instead of the number 1 in the list I get number 24. I feel much better. It’s a boy, we finally start the game. I have White and it’s a Ruy Lopez, Keres variation, here is the game.  I played this variation twice before (2 wins), his 12… Bf6 gets me to the unfamiliar territory.

I realize that d5 will restrict  his knights and bishop and play it. Then I gradually prepare attack on the kingside. After 19. Nh5 Be7 I think about Nxg7, but feel that it is premature. I decide to get ready on the “g” file before that. Then, after f6, I feel that the moment has come and play Nxg7.  Houdini prefers quiet Ng3 with a good positional pressure. He plays Kf7, I feel that it’s a bad move, but don’t see g5!  and play it one move later, when the effect is not the same at all. Anyway, I think that I have a very strong attack. I defend h3, then double my rooks, thinking that it prevents Rg8 (?). I have 48 minutes left and for some reason get a bit nervous, like “it’s taking too much time”. Then he plays unthinkable Rg8. I think that he blundered, he looks a bit confused. I take on g8 and frankly expect that he will resign. Suddenly he quickly takes on h3 and right away shakes my hand (kids like to do it when they win). I see that I got mated.

This is a first time in 4 years playing OTB (after a very long break), that I blundered a mate in 1. It was once that I didn’t mate my opponent in one move, I won anyway. After coming home, I find that all the positions after Nxg7 evaluated by me as at least +3 the three different engines  – Crafty, Fritz and Houdini consider almost equal. I don’t remember the case when I was so wrong.

I don’t know what to make out of it. Of course, there was psychological moment: I thought that I was winning, the guy looked completely lost and his “blunder” was typical for these situations. I actually don’t remember ever getting into a trap, so it mattered too, no experience. I underestimated the guy too, he had 1900 performance rating at Canadian Open, drawing and beating quite a few 1700-1800 guys. Also, that nervousness about the time, I should never get it to affect my play, better lose on time.

Still, if I compare it with what I do – programming, it is not possible that having many years of experience you will write something stupid in your program, forgetting the basics and that’s what I did here. Unbelievable. I remember now that famous video with Kasparov after the game with Anand, how he shakes his head and makes faces, now I can understand it very well.

Preparing for the yesterday’s game in the club with White  I had a list of 6 possible opponents. Two of them played Keres variation (11. … Nd7)  in closed Ruy  and four – Sicilian, 3 out of 4 – 2… d6. I refreshed a bit my Moscow lines before dealing seriously with Keres variation. I played it with one of them before, guy rated 250 lower at the time and he didn’t play very well. But the second one was 1729 and played it in a few games in the club. So, I looked at DB lines and also at his games. Sure enough, the pairings come and I am playing him. We go along with Ruy, here is the game.  I find myself a bit nervous, making a few mistakes in the scoresheet. I have no ground for that, all goes along the book, then it comes to the point where if I play the natural move 21. Rf1 then there is a perpetual after 21… Bxh3, he got it with 100 higher rated player in the club. I am glad that I know it and I bypass it, making moves that I remember from DB and Fritz analysis of one of his games. We actually follow the book until move 24 where, as I learn it at home, we get into the game of some 2400-2500 played 3 years ago in Sweden. Here he makes a different move – 25… Qd8, by the way after the game I recommended him to take on a7, which happened in that Swedish game.
I saved quite a lot of time, now I start to spend it. I did not get any decisive advantage following the theory (by the way he told me after the game that he has a book “Play 1. e4 e5!” by Nigel Davies, where the author devoted 36 pages to Keres variation), but I kind of like my position. I decide that it’s time to exchange my bishop and consider 27. f6. I don’t find any big advantages of doing it (Fritz confirmed that I have only 0.5 after 27. f6), and play 27. Rf3, considering Ra3 or just being on the 3rd line for kingside attack.  After I triple my major pieces on “a”, I feel that I am essentially better and think that the only way to increase pressure is to play d6, Rc7. He goes for the rooks exchange, I think some time what is better –  Rxb7 or Qxb7.  According to Fritz my choice Rxb7 is wrong and I lose part of my advantage.  Still, I have it, and here he makes the decisive mistake playing g5. I smell that it’s a bad move, and almost instantly play Bd1. Then Bh5 follows, my “Spanish” bishop, which didn’t get any work before, now works full-time. I notice that I can exploit the pin, think about Qc6 or Qe6, and for some reason (I thought the queen on e6 can be attacked ?) having 22 minutes each left, play Qc6. It’s still good enough to force his resignation. I feel like I played a good game.
Interesting that looking at the “Swedish” game at home ( here it is ), I see that it has a very similar ending with major pieces penetrating into the Black’s territory and “Spanish” bishop making a decisive strike from h5, winning Black’s pinned bishop.