Theo Slade v Alan Brusey
WECU Open 2015, Rd.5
Theo annotates his best game from the 2015 WECU Open in which he came equal 3rd with 4½/7.
Technically speaking, I'm already out of preparation as I only prepared for 7...cxd4. However, my moves in the game were strongly influenced by my preparation, so I wasn't thinking properly yet.
I was rather embarrassed to find out after the game that Dad found my opening improvement. It's bad enough for an engine to point it out - worse if your move is an unintentional Novelty, but for your own Dad to point out an error as simple as this...? I'll have to do a bit more training! 13.Bxh7!+/-
I arrived at this position in my preparation, but without the pawns at c5 and c3. I was trying to decided whether this difference was better, worse or neutral for me. It turns out that this is a very important detail, and therefore a lot of the moves that I had discarded, (weren't the top line of the engine!) were actually very good for me. However, as it turned out, I was right to follow my preparation as my opponent suddenly fell to pieces.
Only now did I truly begin to think for myself. It seemed to me that I had had a dream opening: my opponent's King is displaced, all of his Bishops and Rooks are on the back rank, I have castled, I am one move away from completing my development... And I'm ready to strike!
I was extremely happy that when I played this sacrifice, there were quite a lot of people around me, so they were able to watch this move and "ooh" and "aah" at it. Or at least that's what Mikhail Tal likes to think.
So there we have it: the modern chess player. I had stayed up very late the night before this game preparing with multiple engines, a database, an ebook and ChessPub, all the while trying to memorise every subvariation that I had analysed. So far I have made just one move of my own, and the position is already winning. I was looking at the board, then at my opponent. Finally I looked at my scoresheet in disbelief, still unable to believe that my preparation had worked that well for me. Then I looked at the board again. And so it continues. Eventually I managed to actually calculate variations, and once this started to happen, nothing could stop me.
The prettiest and easiest way to win.
"And the rest is a matter of technique" Or is it? How many times have you found yourself in a position that is technically winning, but little by little you spoil your advantage until it's no longer winning? This is the problem with knowing that your position is winning: you keep looking for "winning" moves, rather than the best moves, or at least decent moves. However, over the next few moves I lost my way and nearly ruined a very nice game.
I'm still winning, but the path to a win is becoming more and more narrow.
Unsurprisingly, I miss it. This wasn't because I'm not able to see it, but simply because I wanted to set traps for my opponent, who was running into time trouble, rather than win the game on the board.
But the path to a draw is even narrower! Indeed after 28...Qd5! 29.Qe1+/- White is clearly better, and Black would have to play amazingly well under time pressure to arrive at the time control with a position that is not lost.
Ice cool. I have learnt my lesson: be accurate! Now there's no way back for my opponent.
(=) This would have been a very reasonable draw offer, had it not been for the fact that I have a couple of forced wins and a large time advantage. Naturally I turned it down.
The best practical chance.
Once I had seen this move, I knew I was going to win.
My opponent is paralysed, so there's no need to hurry. 37.Qg7 Ke7 38.Qxh7 Rxf7 39.Qxg6+- was my original intention, but I also realised that I would probably have something stronger earlier on anyway.
Notes by Theo Slade