It was a last round in the Thursdays club. My opponent, young man rated 1693, instead of playing expected Sicilian e6, played Hyper Accelerated Dragon. I took into account my shape after super stressful day and decided to take it easy, so made it closed.

My move 11. Ne2 was unfortunate and let him to create some pressure. 11… d5 was forcing me to exchange the dark colored bishop, his 11… Qd7 also looked like it was forcing that. I didn’t want to give up a pawn or the bishop, not liking his bishop then sitting on h6. So I made that Ng1 move, though after 0-0-0 could have an equal position, because after 12. 0-0-0 Nxf3 13. Bxf3 Bxh3 the same Ng1 was getting back the “h” pawn.

I was feeling uncomfortable until my king escaped to the safe place. Then I intercepted the initiative. After his 29. Qb4 his possible Nc4 jump was getting on my nerves and I played Nd5, though had a feeling that it was not the best move. Instead after 30. f4 Nc4 31. Qe2 I was +1.50.

So after 30. Nd5 the game became equal, then 40. Qd3 was inaccuracy, he could play Re1 with -0.50. Instead he played Rf5 and I trapped it by f4. I had a feeling that 43. f5 won’t give me anything and that was right, I could even lose after 43. f5 Nd7 44. fxg6?? Ne5!! 45. gxf7 Kg6 46. Qd1 Ng4. Move 46 was the last move in my scoresheet, I stopped writing the moves. Around that time with me having 3 minutes vs. his 2 I offered a draw. It was a psychological mistake. I thought I was better, nevertheless he just didn’t say anything and continued to play.

I couldn’t find any plan, my threats on the kingside were toothless. With 1 minute remaining (15 seconds increment) I started to make mistakes, my bad shape showed finally. I let his knight to get to g4 and his queen also got into my territory, as a result I lost an exchange. Then I also blundered on pin my f5 pawn and his rook got free, that was the end of it. I was upset of course, a draw would bring me a shared first place.

Going home I realized that if I would attack on the queenside after trapping his rook, I would have a big advantage. So I ran computer analysis, computer started with 47. Re3, then forced either queens exchange with White rook then attacking the queenside and winning or White queen and rook were getting to the 8th line, forcing Black to sacrifice the rook on f5 trying to get perpetual. The Black could get some counter-play, still with +1.80 estimate.

It was a second round in Monday’s club, my opponent was a young man rated 1699, I drew him 3 years ago. I got White, we played again Rossolimo variation.  It was equal until move 20, then I played Ne4. It was a right idea to use the pin, but I had to play g4 first, if 20. g4 Bc8 21. Rxe8 Rxe8 22. Ne4 White eventually wins d6 or c5 pawn (if Black plays d5 at some point).

We spent a lot of time by the move 25, he spent more, maybe it was a reason he blundered a pawn. I had to play 30. Kc4, I saw it, but didn’t like the diagonal check, not seeing that after 30. Kc4 Qf6 31. Kb5 Qf1+ I had c4. Then I missed his Qe5 reply when I played b4. A few moves later he went for a perpetual.

Before this third round game in the Thursday’s club I didn’t sleep enough and had stresses, so wanted to take a bye. But I calmed down by the end of day and decided to play. I looked up a few opening moves in Sicilian e6, expecting one specific opponent with whom I played before and won. My guess was right, I got him and we played the same Szen (`anti-Taimanov’) Variation.

Frankly, all my opening knowledge ended up after 8 moves, so after his 9… b5 I had to decide what to do against upcoming b4. I saw that Nd5 was an only option and thought that if he takes on e4, then after Bb6 I will take his knight with a queen. As soon as he played Nxe4 I realized that I was seeing a ghost, because it was my king there on e1, of course, not queen. But I also saw that he has to move his queen and then I have a fork. He looked troubled and then he suddenly took on f2.

I didn’t like 12. Bxd8 and was seeing another ghost with 12. Kxf2 not liking Qh4+, though there was nothing after that. This and my earlier “vision” could be definitely explained by my state, it happened with me before. Then I saw 12. Bxf2 and played it.

So I got a knight for two pawns, much less than I could get after Kxf2. At that time I didn’t know that, I just felt that the momentum was on my side. Still I needed to play accurately in the arisen after queens exchange endgame. I found a simple solution with 46. Na3 not giving him any chances. I still remembered how I lost in the tournament in June in similar situation, just allowing my opponent to do whatever he wanted.

It became very technical soon and my main goal was not to make a mistake and at the same time advance my pawns. He resigned when it was a mate in 1 coming.

When I came to the club, I initially got a 1-point bye. I had a feeling that I am in a good shape and asked TD, should I go home or wait. He said maybe one guy will not come, I waited half an hour and eventually was paired with the boy who was waiting for that opponent.

I got White and after he chose Sicilian with Nc6 I played my favorite Rossolimo variation. His maneuver Nd7-f8-e6-d4  was good and I got a feeling that I am losing a thread of the game. I expected his f5 and he played it. It was a mistake, especially taking with a pawn 20… cxd4. I saw that I can force the exchange of the bishops and then take on f5. Then his 25… Kh8 was a crucial mistake as you will see, instead 25… Bf7 was -0.7.

I naturally played Rg3 and Ng4, then thought where my knight could jump. e5 looked like a good square with possible Ng6. Of course he didn’t take the knight after 29. Ng6+, because after 29… hxg6 30. Qh6+ he would lose the queen. But the winning move was 32. Nf2!! Qf6 33. Ne4 and Black loses because of the threat of queen check. I saw at some moment the threat on a1-h8 diagonal, but didn’t see how I can do that with him controlling e5 square, that backwards knight move never came to my mind.

Anyway I continued to pressure until he blundered with 34… Qg7. Then 37. Qc7 was the best move, winning b7 pawn as he couldn’t move his bishop because of Rg7. The intention of 42. g4 was to open up the play for the rooks. I can’t believe that I missed a mate in one on move 47, I even thought that I mixed up the score. I only can say that I had less than 10 minutes at that moment. Then having about 5 minutes left I started to play just on increment. I definitely could win faster, but the time pressure didn’t allow me to stop and think what is my plan.
Eventually my pieces took the right positions and when the result became inevitable he resigned.