Sunday, July 27, 2008

Follies of a "C" Rated Player

Round 2 of the MCC Independence Day Swiss was a great game that I happen to lose because of time on the clock. I didn't lose on time, I lost because of my interpretation of the time display.

Let me explain. I recently made a new purchase; The Game Time Chess Clock manufactured by Excalibur, you know the sleek black looking game clock with two bozo big-top hand stompers...er ah plungers. When I received my new clock, I faithfully read the directions that came with its purchase. Bam...enough said.

Lets go to the game I'm eluding to in the opening paragraph and I'll explain further as we go through some critical moments in the game.

White: Warren Newland
Black: Smith

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Nf3 O-O 5.Bg5 d6 6.e4 h6 7.Bh4 Nc6 8.Be2 e5 9.d5 Ne7

The opening line is a Classic Kings Indian Defense with 6...h6. I push an early Nc6 move followed by e5 to entice White into closing off the a2-g8 light diagonal, a common theme in the Kings Indian Defense. White obliges.

Moves 10 through 34 brought about some interesting play. Warren was steadfast in his deliberation of chess moves and brought about a certain edge to the game that made it very enjoyable. For a couple of C rated players, I believe we both played quite strong in our match. Of course, I felt comfortable with my play throughout the game and believed that my position was better than White's after 34. ...b6

**Note: Chess diagrams are viewed from the perspective of Black

At this point, White was using up some time on his clock; giving the position at hand a real good study. As my opponent continued to analyze the position, I looked over to my clock and saw that I had 17 seconds left to play out my next six moves!! Suddenly confusion flooded the senses. How did I suddenly have 17 seconds left on the clock? I could have sworn I had more time to play with than my opponent. His clock showed 5 minutes and some odd seconds as they ticked downward. Quickly, I began to analyze the position some more and hurried to find a combination of moves to keep a favorable position until I can settle in on move 40.

35. Re2 g4 36. hxg4 hxg4 37. Qg3

Damn it! I have a winning position here! I know I do...but I only have 16 seconds left! I hurried off the last two moves in about 6 seconds; the five second delay is helping me preserve a little time. In retrospect, I have to laugh at the faces Warren made while I slammed the plunger with each passing move. Obviously he was irritated and probably felt that I was a poseur of some sort, but hey, I only got seconds to play with here...so tough luck.

Anyway, back to this position. Given even a little time, you can see that Black wins material here and eventually should garner a win with the passed pawn along the d-file. But, I didn't even have that. I had to maintain the position and quickly before time runs out, so the obvious queen exchange was the quickest and most safe without using any time.

The correct play is of course, 37. ...Rxe6!

BAM! Plunger down and I still have 16 seconds. Man I'm good! Warren once again looks at me with that, "What the hell is wrong with you look?"

37. ...Qxg3+ 38. Kxg3 Re7 39. Kxg4 Rg7+ 40. Kh5 Kf7 41. bxc5 bxc5 42. e5 dxe5 43.Rxe5 Kf6 44. Re1 Kxf5 45. Kh6 Rg6+ 46. Kh7

So, interestingly enough, I discover that at the completion of move 40, my time control displays 46 minutes on the clock. Huh? You mean to tell me that I had 16 minutes left to play?! Damn...I had the game won at move 37 and because I didn't know how to read the time on my own stupid clock, I played in haste, overlooking the solid rook move to capture the pawn along the e-file.

Ah well...I'm still looking pretty good here and I have a passed pawn. Yes, so does White, but my king is placed well to defend. All I need to do is exchange the rooks and I'm golden. My thought process here was; keep my rook posted along the 6th rank to prevent White's pawn push and find a way to entice White into exchanging rooks.

Hmmm...that e file is looking good, I'll play 46. ...Re6?! Good move if you're sitting on White's side of the board.

Yup, my eyes betrayed me in that game for sure...so are the follies of a C rated player I guess. Good game Warren. Since that game, I've adjusted my clock to always display seconds when there is less than an hour left on the clock.