First game of the year was a success as far as a win is concerned; and that's pretty darn good after taking a five year hiatus from the game! However, the game had its share of questionable moves...but as Bill Belichick would say, "We just happen to make one more play than our opponent and come out with a win."
The game was played at my local chess club against a D rated player. I played white and fortunately for me, my opponent played into a simple Ruy Lopez Exchange variation. Fortunate, because the exchange variation doesn't really serve up a whole lot of complications and line variations. I was hoping to play into this variation, just to help break the ice and remove some rust, as it is one of several openings I'm most comfortable with; making the "Chess Saddle" a heck of a lot easier to jump back on to.
Here is the critical position that arises after black plays his 24th move ...Qe7:
Black: Dan Callahan
Immediately, I wanted to play Qa6+. I was up material with a better position and wanted to keep the tempo in my favor. It was the lack of competitive play over the last several years and nerves that was driving me to play impulsively. Obviously, Qa6+ does not really buy me anything here accept an extra move. Suddenly and thank the Lord, a silent bell began ringing in my head, "Slow down! You have plenty of time on the clock." So, I got up from the table on my move, got a drink of water to calm myself down and returned to the board only to play 25. Qxg5?
The idea was to eat up another pawn, try to force a queen exchange and play for the end game. Eventually, that was exactly what happened. It was not a very pretty game, but I did outplay my opponent for a win 20 moves later.
For the ego, it was good...if at least to know that I was still capable of playing competitive chess and recognized in game that I had plenty of room for improvement. With each passing move, my eyes began to focus, the pieces shown brighter and the abstract of chess began to reveal itself to me once again on the board.
Days later, I reviewed this game and saw the following variation for a stronger position: 25. d4 Rd6 26. Ra3! Rb6 27. Ra8+ Kb7 28. Rxe8 Rxb5 29. Rxe7 Rxb2 30 Nxg5!
Hey, at least I'm beginning to see the board better, and that's an improvement.