24 January 2017

Blitz is Hard

My Chess.com blitz rating has risen to dangerous heights, making a fall inevitable. When that fall comes, my self-discipline will be tested. Will I continue to limit myself to a small number of games each day and analyze them afterwards? Will I resume poor habits that reveal my blitz addiction?

Last Tuesday, I finally surpassed my own personal best blitz rating of 2005 from February 2016, rising to 2015. The next day. I lost my first game, then won two and quit. My rating lifted to 2015. Thursday, I achieved the third new peak in three days--2041--again with one loss, followed by two wins. I played two games on Friday, none Saturday, and two on Sunday and my rating remained at 2041. Yesterday, I lost two, but then played two more and won both, achieving a fourth peak in seven days--2043.

The crash occurred today with four straight losses. The fourth game was difficult. I was certain that I was winning during the messy finish. After my opponent's blunder, 39.Rdd2??, I had this position.

Black to move

39...Qb3+ was obvious enough. 40.Kb5 and now what. I have 25 seconds and my opponent 21. There is no increment.

I went on to lose this game. When I analyzed it later, I started with this position (engines off) and immediately thought that 40...Kh2 might have been better. 41.c6 seems a viable try when 41...Rd5+ is met with 42.Rc5 and Black does not have a checkmate in sight.

Turning on the engine revealed that the best move was 40...Rd5, but also that my move was good enough to maintain a decisive advantage.

41...c6+ Kb6

Black to move

The game concluded 41...Rxd4?? 42.Qe8+ Bd8+ 43.Qxd8+ Rxd8 and I resigned before my opponent could play 44.Rxd8#.

Bringing the bishop to d8 was the correct idea, but there was no reason to open the d-file for my opponent's rook. With enough time to calculate, I might have found 41...Rd3!! This move frees the d8 square for the bishop, while also protecting the bishop on its current square.

However, if White snatches the rook, it also seems to offer his king escape.

42.cxd6 Bd8+ 43.Kc5 and now Ka7

White to move
Analysis after 43...Ka7
44.Qxc6 is White's only way to avoid checkmate.

44...Bb6# was threatened. If White tries to provide an escape route for the king with 44.d7, then 44.Be7+ deflects the queen 45.Qxe7 Qd5#.

I had nineteen seconds remaining when I played 41...Rxd4. That was not enough for me to work out the correct plan.

I played one more game after this loss, which I won. Then, I quit for the day. At least my current rating of 2021 is higher than it was last Tuesday.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great combination. The finish with d7 Be7+ Qxe7 Qd5# is icing on the cake.

    ...Rd6 and the details seem impossible to spot in a time trouble situation. And besides, even after perfect play, when White goes 44.Qxc6 bxc6 45.Kxc6, we aren't close to mate yet and the game will still be decided by a time scramble.

    My instinct was to play a 1...Qb3+ 2.Kb5 then a quick Ka7, but 3.c6 seems annoying.

    I think I found a simple line that also wins White's queen: 1...Qb3+ 2.Kb5 Rd5. This pins the c-pawn and puts ...c6+ and Bd8# back on the board. It seems like Qxd5 is now forced.

    But I guess again, 3.Qxd5 Qxd5 4.Kxa4 and we will still probably need to flag him with our 20 seconds.