It means avenging, revenge. My opponent was a guy to whom I lost a few times with Black, having equal score with White. So I got White, Scandinavian defense.

We followed the known line, it is better for Black to take on f3. I remembered that e6 is not good and I have to play h4, but at that moment I had kind of a moment of blindness. I thought that he can play 10… Nd7 and if I play 11. h5 he takes on e5 and after exchanges on e5 and e2 takes c2 pawn. Fritz says that I can actually catch this bishop, I didn’t see that, but he gets 4 pawns for that. But what I completely missed is that I can take on d7 and then play h5. So it looks like he has to play 10… h6 or h5, but the arising position after 11. Nxg6 fxg6 is very bad for Black, computer evaluates it as +2 and still thinks that 10… Nd7 11. Nxd7 Qxd7 12. h5 Bxc2 with Black having two pawns for the bishop is better.

I knew he will play 21… c5. The position was equal until he played 29… Rh7. Then after 31… Qe3 it was another moment of blindness, induced partly by him, because it looked like a trap for me to take the pawn. I missed that queen defends d3 square. Computer wins all shootouts after 32. Rxf5.

By move 50 I had only 8 minutes left vs. his 30. I saw that if I defend b2 he still takes the pawn with the knight because his queen attacks the bishop. So, taking into account all the circumstances I went for perpetual. He showed me Qb4 after the game where I could win “a” pawn. But seeing that Q vs. Q endgame I told him that it is likely a draw, indeed all shootouts ended in a draw. So, it wasn’t a full revenge, but I had him on the ropes.

I am playing in the Canadian Open 2011, it is in my city. I wanted to play in it last year, but at the last moment couldn’t. I had a choice of playing in U2000 section or in the Open one. I saw many familiar names in U2000, knew that I am bad with winning prizes, so decided that rather doing what I do the whole year,  I will play with the new strong opponents (about 80% have higher rating than me), it will be more worth my money.  It’s all happening in the very nice hotel in the downtown.

In the first round I got a guy from my new club, I lost 15/G to him once. He started with a flashy Italian variation (here is the game) and at some moment I thought that I will be cooked in a dozen moves. But I intuitively played the first line and after giving him back a pawn that he sacrificed in the beginning got a pretty good position, having 2 draws stats in the DB. After positional maneuvering it became a R+N vs. R+N endgame, then rook endgame. I saw he plans a rooks exchange and calculated that in the arising pawn endgame my pawn queens right after his. I wasn’t sure about how I would feel when he will start making checks, probably win my pawn, skewers, etc., so I decided to avoid it. Fritz says that there was a line where after a pawn sacrifice I queen another pawn first, but I didn’t see it. I was winning in that line doing exactly what I was afraid he will do to me – exchanging queens and getting into a won pawn endgame.

I was actually holding up in that rook endgame despite his rook on the 7th line and active king, but I thought I am worse and when he offered the exchange for the second time I went for it, it was the same line I calculated before with him queening first.

I made a wrong move with my king and he didn’t see that with after playing Kd5 instead of Kd6 he was able to exchange the queens right away and win. I think he played too fast in general, not using all his time, he had to see that if he is a master. Anyway, we got queens and my strategy was to avoid skewers and forced exchanges, so I kept my king far away, finding a few safe squares. Interesting thing is that according to Nalimov tablebases it’s a draw, but I had to play exactly.  I had 30 seconds increment and wanted to keep my time over 10 minutes, but it was slowly decreasing, he had more than 40 minutes. It was a funny moment once, when he almost put his queen under skewer, but he didn’t release the piece and realizing it, quickly retreated and moved to a different square.

He was advancing his pawn, I was checking and suddenly I saw that  I have perpetual. He realized that and said being slightly disappointed: “draw”.

Round 2 – I get a boy from Vancouver, he was a Canadian champion U12 2 years ago. I have White and expect him to play Sicilian, as he did before, but he probably did his homework or updated repertoire, so he plays Scandinavian, here is the game. I spent some time in the past studying it, so it’s  OK with me. It seems me that I am better after first dozen of moves, Fritz says it’s equal, unless he plays f5. I feel it is bad, Fritz confirms it.

Then on move 25 I think that I missed Nxc5, but I calm down when I see that I can take on e7. Still, I make precautions after he plays e6 and it is a mistake, I have to play Qc7. He tries to get some counter-play and finally manages e5. A few more moves and I feel that I can’t play for a win anymore. Another thing is that he was in the big time trouble, but stayed cool, just accelerated and made his 40th move intentionally leaving only 18 seconds on the clock.

I am more active, thinking I can win b7 pawn, but after Bc4 probably lose mine and  suddenly he offers a draw. I impulsively answer “Yes”, then kind of realize maybe it’s not that simple with b7 and I can just win it. But it is late. At home shootouts show that I really win a pawn, then it can go into a rook endgame with a different results depending on the depth of the calculation.  Deep – win, short – draw. Of course I had practically nothing to lose, he had less time, I could just play. Again, I don’t know why I agreed, it was an impulse, maybe I prepared myself for a draw and couldn’t switch back quickly when the situation changed.

Round 3 – I play with the man from my club, I had a draw with him in French playing  White. I have Black now. My last minute preparation for his possible King’s gambit only leads to worrying about coming late, coming a bit late (though it’s only announcements and the clock is not started yet) and being not fully concentrated as a result.

He plays 1. c4, doesn’t want to go into my territory with d5 after c5 and plays e3. I want to play  something familiar and play d5 to create an isolated pawn on d4, but he again avoids it and plays c5. I find myself in the non-familiar position and can’t find the right moves. The thing is, you have to play Ne4.  Nxe4 is not good for White and if take the knight on c3 then, you get a good play. I don’t know how to develop my queenside because of the threats Qb3 and Nb5, then Nd6 and another simple move – Be6 doesn’t come to my mind. He plays very fast, it is almost offensive, I spend a lot of time. I play a bad move  – 14… b6 and after 16. Nd6 think that I am in the big trouble, but he doesn’t find the strongest move.

After his Ba6 I know I am out of the woods. Then he lets me to take a pawn on b2 and I know I am better. But here is the sad part. I make several bad moves in a row, starting from the naturally looking Bg7 and find myself in a big trouble again. I give up the exchange which is unnecessary Fritz thinks. My opponent is pressing, I start to look at the clock and in a position, where I think I am lost I finally blunder and resign. Not a good game.

Round 4  – I play with the local boy ~15 years old. I know he will play Sicilian d6. My opening preparation for this game reminds me of the goalie that stands on his head and plays an excellent game, but his team can’t score and loses 0:1.

I remember about what happened in the previous round and come 45 minutes early. I drink the iced water which is provided during the game and talk to the people. I am very confident in the opening and play it fast, he is not so sure.  After some point he has some trouble finding useful moves and is about 40 minutes behind on the clock. I get out from the board often and look at the other games.

Then suddenly he plays 19… Nxe4. I think I am in trouble, but when I analyze the position I see that it’s not that bad and there are holes in his calculation. I see that after losing 2 pawns I have 2 possible forks and can have some material back. Then he misses 23.  …  Qa7 and gives up the exchange. After the game he shows me the better line I could play, I think it’s the same line Fritz suggests – with a big advantage. Unfortunately, I don’t see it.

On move 29 he plays a5, I think this is a crucial move no matter what Fritz says.   I can’t break his defense, he advances the “e” pawn. I have a few minutes left before 40th move and seeing his possible f5, f4 advance I offer to exchange the queens. I already know that the endgame won’t be easy.

I spend about 10 minutes considering b4 sacrifice and finally decide not  to do  it. His play now is easy, just advance the pawn mass on the kingside and the king. I can’t find a good plan how to activate my rook and on the move 44 offer him the “b” pawn. He doesn’t take it and blocks the “d” line, the only line available for my rook. Then on move 49 I miss a chance to sacrifice “c” pawn by playing c5  (I do it later, when it’s useless). He simply strangles me with his pieces and pawns. I have  a little time left, see that Rxd3 loses, play it anyway just because I don’t see anything else and hope maybe I am wrong and lose on time in the completely lost position.

This is a first time I had such an endgame – bad rook vs. good knight. If I knew what would happened, I could offer him a draw soon after getting exchange for the pawn, he, being down on time too, probably would agree. But here comes the question – what I am playing for – points or experience. The honest answer is  both, but I think that experience is more important, otherwise I could just play in U2000 section, I would definitely get more points there and even hope for a prize, but I chose something else.

Round 5 – I play Black with the girl who is current U18 Canadian champion between girls. She is not doing well in the tournament, but I know her well enough to prepare very seriously. She plays 1. b3, so I look at her games and what the “book” says. We start, she plays 1. b3 and we follow for some time her  game against some 2500 rated IM in the first round. I don’t want to allow her e4 and play Ne4. Exchanges follow and after blocking f4 pawn by f5, I don’t get much rest, since she wants to play e4. Moving “a” pawn proves to be useful, this idea is taken from the same first round game. My idea to exchange bishops doesn’t seem to be good, since my bishop is better.

Right after she closes the center I think I am OK and the position looks drawish to me. Then she suddenly plays g4. I know where we are going and quickly organize the defense, meanwhile getting the “a” line for me. Her attack develops very fast and after 29. Qh3 I see Rg6 coming with double attack at g6 and e6. I remember the Russian expression: “If you going to die, die with the music” and see the idea of c5, followed by d4, opening h1-a8 diagonal, etc. With ~20 minutes on 10 moves left I can’t calculate too long. As soon as I play d4, it seems me that maybe it’s too much and I could just take on c5, but still it looks too slow to me. She looks kind of worried and not sure, there are really quite a few lines. She doesn’t take the second pawn, which is a mistake, and I know that her e4 keeps me in the game. Then we both do not play the best moves.  I just try to create simple threats. We eventually get into a rook endgame and I manage to win the “h” pawn.

After the game I asked her why she didn’t play Rd1 right away and she said that she didn’t like g5, fxg5 and then rook can skewer the king and rook if it takes on d4, but actually White king can move and take the pawn. Anyway her king gets very active, I don’t like it and find the forcing move, after which or we go into a pawn game, becoming queen endgame, or into a rook endgame, which looks better than the current. She thinks for some time, exchanges the rooks and says quietly: “Draw”. It doesn’t look like a draw offer, so I decide not to react. After her queen gives me the check, I see perpetual and understand why she said what she said.

Round 6 – I play with an American, rated 2001. He comes 20 minutes late and starts to play pretty fast, only on increment. His 3… Nd7 is a surprise, it’s a sharpest line in Moscow, nobody played it against me before. I am not ready and just play regular moves.

Everything is pretty quiet until he plays an excellent move – c4. I see that I am trouble and after Nc5 will lose the pawn. I try to console myself that his king’s weakened position will be some compensation. Suddenly he plays d5 and then instead of taking on d3 takes on d5. Now I win a pawn.

I feel that I have not only material, but psychological advantage too. I try to increase the pressure and create a simple threat  – Nc6. It looks like he sees it, since he plays Rb8, but then he blunders with a5. After a few more moves I see that the game is practically over, he sees it too and resigns.  After the game I can’t say that I am completely satisfied, but I am glad to a get first win and important point and also to get home early and not to feel tired next day.

Round 7 – I play a man from another city,  I have Black.  I know the guy plays d4, c4. I get crushed by Cuban GM Walter Arencibia , who actually just shared the 1st place,  in the simul (3 people, almost one on one) at lunch time in Benko,  some variation I didn’t know and I do not want to play Benko. He makes it some variation of Colle eventually. I am probably more or less OK until I get annoyed by the knight e5 and decide to exchange it. Then on move 20 I play f5, it’s a blunder. I calculated Qg6, but only after taking on f6 and it was OK, I see that  he can play it right away and he does. I try to make it  a fight and miss the only real possibility – Nxe5.  Funny that I saw it, but didn’t see the last move – Qf2, getting the piece back. Then the weakness of the light squares ( I have to give up the exchange to defend from mate) and marsh of the central pawns decide the game. I am upset and on the way back choke on the piece of chocolate, it makes me feel completely miserable.

Round 8 – the game starts at 2pm, I am really angry in the morning and pump myself up by listening to my “AC/DC” in the car, while doing chores. I walk to the hotel and I feel like I can just start as well a boxing match instead of the chess one. I have White, I noticed that I did much better with White (50%), so I think it’s my chance. I play a local boy ~18 years old. I know he plays French, here it is. We go along the book line. On move 14 I am not sure, it seems me I played g3 in the correspondence game and it’s a first choice, but I don’t like g5 and play quiet Ne2. I see that Rxf3 is not that dangerous. It’s a first line by the way, but the stats are good for White. I learn later that Qc1 is the first line (not sure I would like putting my queen on “c” line), Ne2 is the second and the third is g3, with g5 having a very good stats for Black. He suddenly plays Ng5, I see that I can play f4 after exchange. I lost 2 games to masters in this line, both due to their ability to play e5 and get a full attack – on “f”, bishops, etc. Here f4 prevents e5 completely. I start to think that I am better due to his backward pawn e6 and bad bishop. On move 23 he gets rid of his bad bishop and on move 24 offers me a draw. I still think about his e6 and refuse. He looks surprised a bit. Funny that Fritz at home estimates this position as 0.00.

I eventually find that I can pressure on “c” line. He misses a possibility to get out of it by playing 36… Ne5, I only considered Nxd4.  After queens exchange I still have pressure and suddenly see a possibility of a pawn break – f5. His position gets essentially worse taking into account my very strong c6 pawn and his isolated pawn on d5. I am about to win this pawn when he blunders and resigns. This win makes me really happy. I have 3.5 out of 8 before the last round and even have a chance to get to 50%.

Round 9 – I learn the pairings the night before, I play Black against another 18-year old. I find a couple of his games, it’s Four Knights. I played it twice with lower rated and won, this guy is rated ~2100. I go through the DB and finally find the line I like. I don’t sleep well, the whole situation makes me nervous.

The game starts and we have Four Knights. I play very fast the first  moves, probably subconsciously trying to intimidate him. He stops at some point and am afraid that it backfired and he will try to deviate. No, he goes along his own game and after 14 moves I have the position that was on my computer.  OK,  now we start.  The exchange on square e4 would look much better after 20. Bxe4  Bf5, and bishop gets to e4.  I start making a wrong moves, starting from being afraid of his queen getting on d6 and following queen exchange.

His pawn breakthrough looks serious, I hope that I will be able to defend my queenside with the bishop until my king  comes to help and exchange queens. Then I see how in  a few moves his knight takes under control b7 square and that’s it.  I hope to find an etude, but to no avail. I resign. It seems me that my problem was that I didn’t have a specific plan and he had and executed it eventually.

The loss is painful, as it moves me down in standings. I am still in a very good company, with all the people around rated higher than me. All my opponents were 2000-2200 rated, my rating should go up.

It was a great experience, I never ever played in such a big tournament, with such excitement and adrenaline.

I played yesterday, it looks like my mojo returns, though slowly and painfully. It was a guy rated 1600, I got White, here is the game. He played Scandinavian and we went into 3… Qd6 variation. After his Bg4 I played the line that I used almost 1.5 year ago at the Labour Day tournament. I got advantage then, but didn’t use it and finally lost. I remembered the  ideas from analysis of that game and decided to use it here. He played fast, but then started to think more, trying to avoid exchange on g6 with getting isolated e6 pawn. I think he thought too much, because eventually he blundered and lost the bishop for the pawn. I played confidently even before that, so you can imagine my mood after. I quickly played  move that I prepared before – 20. Qc4 and then saw Bxe5 right away. OK, I thought, I lost a pawn, I am still better. So, I played O-O-O pretty fast and then after his Bf4+ suddenly realized that I lose a piece. After some shock I decided that if he played without a piece, why can’t I play without 2 pawns?

I got really mad and started to play fast, but seeing the board well, like in blitz when you catch your wave and you go winning 9 out of 10 games. I got initiative on the queenside and I thought at one moment that it worth at least one pawn, maybe both. Fritz later agreed with that. It gave me strength and I continued to attack his king. He got behind on time, though it still was enough.Then as soon as I thought maybe he will play Rb8, he did exactly that. The rest was well-known to me queen sacrifice. He resigned after it.

Of course there was that huge collapse in the middle of the game, when I blundered twice in a row, but I hope it was residual phenomenon. At least, I am fully satisfied with my play in the opening and starting from the move 23.

Finally, after having =2, -3 score against Scandinavian I beat it, here is the game.
It was a nice, middle-aged guy, rated 200 lower.  It was maybe the first time when my preparation for the round paid off.  He was one of the possible opponents and I saw that he played Scandinavian a few times, including  gambit variation 2…c6.  I wasn’t familiar with it, looked up a few moves ( it’s called Blackburne-Kloosterboer gambit), so when he played it at least I knew that I should play 5. Bb5 if 4…e5.  Then I had a choice between d3 or d4 and decided to play active, otherwise that white-colored c8 bishop could be really nasty. After 13 moves we already had 2R+B vs. 2R+B. I think his 15… Bh5 was a mistake, the bishop was passive for quite some time.
My position definitely was better and I was a pawn up. He started to think more and more after my rooks created a pressure in the center and on the queenside.  Finally he got into a huge time trouble, having just a few minutes vs. my ~40 minutes. I won another pawn,  his flag was in 9 o’clock position and frankly I expected him to resign or lose on time.  Funny, that until that moment he played like he had the same half an hour as me, even wrote the moves.
Then he started to play faster with the same quiet face and it looked like his flag didn’t move at all.  I hate these old clocks.  Eventually it kind of rattled me and he managed to exchange rooks threatening mate.  It was his only chance, endgame with opposite-colored bishops, but in this case it didn’t help. I had a winning position when he lost on time.
Interesting that Fritz found a couple of moments in that endgame when he thought that I missed my advantage, evaluating the position as just ~0.5.
But I didn’t trust it and ran shootouts. Funny that Crafty with White won, but Fritz couldn’t. Then I put Rybka 2.2n2 vs. Crafty and you know what – they both won,  end of story. But there was a moment earlier, when if I would force a rook exchange with 30.Rd5 there was a draw. Of course I would never do that.
It looks like I was looking for adventures in the game I played this Thursday.
It was an old gentleman I drew 2 times before. I was White and was expecting Alekhine defense from him (he played it in the club before), being sure he won’t repeat French. He played … Scandinavian, the opening I have a bad record with: =1, -3, though in the last game I was better after the first 13-15 moves. Anyway, he played the “classical” line 3…Qa5, here is the game.  I thought that I stumbled, moving 5. Qd3, completely forgetting that Bf5 is possible because the queen is on a5. But it was actually a book move, even with 53-54% score.
Anyway, I was OK, a few exchanges followed, and then he offered a queen exchange.
It confirmed my feeling that he wants a draw. I was kind of not in the mood to make another draw, but he threatened to take a pawn on a2,  if I would refuse. I looked and decided that after Qxa2, Ra1, Qb3, Rxa2 I get my pawn back, but after the move realized that queen can go back to d5 and defend the pawn. Fritz later also refused to exchange, but found a better way of implementing it and got the pawn back. I got nervous and tried to create complications on the kingside. I actually succeeded after he allowed me to take his knight on f6 and break his king’s cover. I found the pawn sac – f5, but played it a move later than needed, so instead of getting 0.8 better I got 0.8 worse and then we both missed a crucial combo – 34.  …  Rxg2+ 35.  Qxg2 Rg8 36.  Qxg8+ Kxg8, that was getting him Q+2P vs. 2R endgame with very active queen and passed pawns which is won for Black (2 shootouts confirm that).
Instead he eventually went for queen exchange that was good for me,  I activated my rook and it made the game almost equal. At one moment I got two connected passed pawns on “c” and “d”,  but I was afraid of his passed “a” pawn, so exchanged “c” for “a”.  I thought later, that it was a moment when I could win, but Fritz said that it was not possible to keep the pawns. Then finally we got in R vs. R endgame, with me having “d” and him doubled “f” pawns. I didn’t estimate the position right and went ahead with the king trying to support my pawn, instead of exchanging it for his “f” and getting into drawn ending with my king on the way of his remaining “f” pawn. Then I noticed that he is getting into time trouble,  spending more time than me on every move.  When he had 48 seconds (I had ~2 minutes 20 seconds) he offered a draw.  I didn’t feel like refusing it  (I am not sure I would feel the same way, if it would be somebody else),  he was better  (though 2 computer shootouts ended in a draw), so I accepted it. I don’t think I deserved a win in this game.
The idea to title the post about the tournament where I just played “No pain, no gain” got quick approval after reading an excellent article
in Wikipedia about this expression.
First it was introduced by Jane Fonda in her aerobics workout videos and it was regarding
working out past of experiencing muscle aches. Bodybuilders liked it, they think (and it’s true) that muscles grow only if they suffer
and you can’t become professional if you avoid this.
And the origin goes back to the beginning of the second century.
Rabbi Ben Hei Hei said, “According to the pain is the gain.”
So, it was a big tournament, 3 days, 6 games, 40/2, SD/1.
I decided to play in U200 section and was in the bottom of the rating list.
There were 4 games for me because I had to take 2 byes on Sunday.
The result was 2 draws, 2 losses, that explains the title.
I was better or equal after all the openings, never was in the time trouble, but it wasn’t enough.
I see some things that went wrong, but I would appreciate any opinion, as well as long-term advice.
You can bypass first Fritz’s comments to get your own general view.
Game 1 –  I am White, playing with young guy, 20+.
Scandinavian. People that follow my posts know that I hate it, but I learned a few things.
He plays Qxd5, Qd6 variation and after Nf3/Bg4 I use the advice from my friend linuxguy
(given after discussion of one of my losses) and play h3/Bg5, g4/Bg6 and then Ne5.
I like my position, Fritz 11 too, but then I start to miss the good moves,
one of them – +2.79! He gradually equalizes, but his king is still in the center.
I make pawn sac to open the lines, which I thought after the game was too aggressive,
but it’s actually Fritz’s choice, though it doesn’t give any advantage.
I play the bad move, then soon another one and my position deteriorates, his kingside pawn majority becomes decisive.
I am in the bad endgame, which I step by step lose.

The idea to title the post about the tournament where I just played  “No pain, no gain” got a quick approval after reading an excellent article in Wikipedia about this expression.

First it was introduced by Jane Fonda in her aerobics workout videos and it was regarding working out past of experiencing muscle aches. Bodybuilders liked it, they think (and it’s true) that muscles grow only if they suffer and you can’t become professional if you avoid this.  And the origin goes back to the beginning of the second century.  Rabbi Ben Hei Hei said, “According to the pain is the gain.” (The Ethics of the Fathers 5:21).

So, it was a big tournament, 3 days, 6 games, 40/2, SD/1.  I decided to play in U2000 section and was in the bottom of the rating list. There were 4 games for me because I had to take 2 byes on Sunday.  The result was 2 draws, 2 losses,  that explains the title.

I was better or equal after all the openings, never was in the time trouble, but it wasn’t enough. I see some things that went wrong, but I would appreciate any opinion, as well as long-term advice.

I posted all the games,  you can first bypass Fritz’s comments to get your own general view.

Game 1 –  I am White, playing with young guy, 20+.  Scandinavian defense. People that follow my posts know that I hate it, but I learned a few things.  He plays Qxd5, Qd6 variation and after Nf3/Bg4 I follow the advice from my friend linuxguy (given after discussion of one of my losses) to play h3/Bg5, g4/Bg6 and then Ne5.  I recently remembered it, found it in DB, it’s called Lasker variation when it’s played after Qa5, but it’s also played after Qd6 . Funny that the same variation was played afterwards in the blitz game between my opponent and Russian GM and GM played h3, g4, Ne5 too!  I liked my position, Fritz 11 too, but then I started to miss the good moves, one of them – +2.79! He gradually equalized, but his king was still in the center.  I made pawn sac to open the lines, which I thought after the game was too aggressive, but it’s actually Fritz’s choice, though it doesn’t give any advantage, just equal.  I played a bad move, then soon another one and my position deteriorated, his kingside pawn majority became decisive.

Game 2 – I am White again, playing with the old guy. I knew he will play Caro-Kann and he does. I play Tartakower (fantasy) variation that GM Bareev suggested,  I played quite a few blitz games with it, liked it and it looks to me like a less common variation. The guy confirmed that after the game,  saying it was a first time he got it. Good!  Nevertheless, he chooses the best answer e6 – 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 f3 e6, then in a few moves he gives me 2 bishops. I feel I am better, but can’t decide what plan I should pursue. Meanwhile he counters in the center and I get some calculation work to do. Pawns get exchanged, then queens. I am a bit underdeveloped, so I try to fix it without giving up any material or position. Still, has to give back the bishop, position becomes completely equal, he offers a draw, I agree. Fritz’s estimated this position as 0.00. Interesting, that as opposed to the first game, Fritz doesn’t find anything to criticize me for at all, “perfect game” :).  

Game 3 ( 5th round) – I am Black, playing with the guy 45-50 years old. He starts 1. c4 Nf6 2. d4. I decide to play Benko gambit, it resurrected in my blitz play recently after a year of absence, I found that it’s easier than Grunfeld, where there are too many variations and some of them I don’t quite like.  In total I counted ~100 Benko blitz games,  so good time to try it. I think it took him by surprise, nevertheless he accepted it, and for some time played it quite right. But the time he was spending was 1.5 times more than mine. I played all the book, then all the typical moves. He was almost suffering under pressure. Suddenly, after thinking for 20-25 minutes, he makes the move I was afraid of – 22. Qa4,  forcing the queens exchange . Yeah, they say that even after that the Black in Benko gambit still has the initiative, but I didn’t feel like that. So, I retreat, but finally queens are exchanged. He has about 12.5 minutes for 16 moves, I have about 40, but the position became pretty simple and another rook exchange is coming up with his next move. He makes that move and suddenly offers a draw. I think for 5 seconds, weighing my 2 bishops and time against his spare “a” pawn and agree. He points at his pawn with some gesture, meaning it’s not worth much and hurries away.  I realize later, that the max I could get was his “a” pawn, the rest was on the kingside where 2 bishops wouldn’t be such a big advantage.  Fritz evaluated this as – -.27, just quarter of a pawn for me. And he would probably make his moves in time in such a simple position. I don’t know.  I saw how FM whom I know very well, grinded down one guy rated 270 lower than him in completely equal R+B endgame, cornered his king – something like Kh1,  R at g2 and B on the same diagonal and made a pawn break. The guy having just 30 seconds left until end of the game to think about it simply resigned. They both agreed that the guy screwed up and it should be a draw. But my guy was rated 100 higher than me, not 270 lower. Still, here is the professional approach. Funny that at home Crafty finds that his best move was the worst one, losing a piece in 3 moves. “Meaningless” queens exchange , then my nice bishop for knight? and boom! I attack his knight and he has nowhere to go. OK, exchanges are looking absurd when I am a pawn down,  but it’s a forced line, right?  So, I have to calculate it, no matter I like it or not  and evaluate the arising position. I didn’t do it, so didn’t get rewarded for the lots of time spent for the opening preparation and for actually well played game.

Game 4 ( 6th round) – I play with an old guy, Black again, 1. e4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 transpares to French, Classical. I am OK after the opening, but then chose the wrong plan 15. … f6.  I just don’t see f4 coming, which refutes my plan with Bg6. I miss the possibility to counter-attack on the queenside and don’t find the right defense against his maneuver  Nc1-d3-c5  (though I see it) with the purpose of attacking a6 and e6. I lose a pawn, but it’s not the end of it. My bishop is really bad and the pressure becomes stronger and stronger. Finally I miss his rook penetrating to the 7th line with the forced mate in a few moves. Painful loss, and I leave the tournament being pretty upset. I calm down later after running the games through Fritz and seeing that I had my chances and not everything was bad.

I feel that something important is missing from my preparation. The ability to find the right plan, to see the right move and calculate doesn’t come with blitz, so blitz will be essentually reduced. I don’t actually know how you learn it – by l0oking at GM games, playing slow games? I don’t quite like artificial exercises and don’t feel anymore that playing correspondence games gives me much. Maybe I should try to play longer games on the Web?  One of my thoughts before the tournament was that  I should play more OTB with the stronger opponents and I saw how right it was.

As my very favorite AC/DC say:

“Kicked in the teeth again
Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win
Kicked in the teeth again
Ain’t this misery ever gonna end?”

This is exactly what’s happening with the tournament I am playing in (except second “sometimes”). This Sunday I played and guess who was my opponent?
The son of the guy I played with a week before ( see my previous post ).
Of course, I was White again and of course, he played Scandinavian defense.
What I thought when I was accepting the same freaking Portuguese variation ?
First – I got some knowledge about that during the week
second – he shouldn’t be as experienced as his father.

Maybe he isn’t, but his rating is 160 points higher. Anyway, I didn’t get into that kind of trouble as last time. I successfully avoided king-side attack and even had euphoria about getting 2 bishops, but then I got into different trouble, my queen-side lagging in development. It was another theoretical move, that I didn’t know.
I heroically struggled, again spending a lot of time.
It reminded me later my former countryman – GM Kramnik, getting into prepared novelties in the same variation twice in the current match with Anand. Finally almost everything was exchanged except R+B vs. R+N and pawns. And here I made a mistake and lost a pawn, but recovered after that, winning his pawn and finally getting into B vs. N with a passed pawn on king-side and 2P vs 3P on queen-side.
The hope returned, but I had only 5 minutes left. I made a move advancing the pawn and setting a trap, he didn’t bite, played another move ( which I didn’t see ) and I lost my pawn.
I think, I could draw even then, but time was going and having less than 90 seconds on the clock I missed a fork. I would probably lose by time anyway, he had a huge advantage here.

Probably I made a mistake by completely stopping my blitz activities on FICS and got out of shape, but most importantly, I realized again that my endgame technique is not acceptable. If you know how to play, you can play fast and you can win.
I found a very similar endgame by Capablanca-Corzo, 1901, pretty famous and another B vs. N endgame by Kramnik. I swore, that I will memorize at least the first one, all 59 moves, though it wouldn’t be as easy as many years ago.