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Rapid Game 1 of 4

By Christopher Herrera | 1/22/22

Hi again friends, thanks for checking out my blog! I told myself that I was going to play 4 rapid games today and these 4 are the ones that I am going to go over. my record at the end of the games was 3-1. A pretty good result I'd say, though after looking back through my games and missing some WINNING tactics all I could do was study the position and go through some of the lines. As I go through this first game, I'll share what my thoughts were during some points of the game. So, lets get started!

In this game, I have the white pieces. I typically like to keep flexible play in my openings and play 1. e4, 1.d4, or 1.Nf3. Sometimes I'll open with 1.c4 and I used to play the English opening quite a bit a few years ago but don't play it as much, though I will sometimes transpose into the position from 1.d4 or 1.Nf3, but anyway, lets move on.

This is a Symmetrical Queen's Pawn opening, we both have our pieces mirroring each other so to speak after the first couple of moves, then black plays c4 on move 3. Both side have pawns staring straight at each other on c4,d4, and c5, d5.....

"Do I take?" Is what I ask myself. I've heard in the past from an old IM coach I used to have that the first to release the tension is usually the one that's gonna get into problems, although I'm sure this rule has exceptions as well. But I didn't see a problem with taking the d5 pawn, my only thought to myself was "This isn't losing, so I'm sure its fine." which it waaaaassss.....BUT the engine preferred Bxb8.

This wasn't a move I thought about at all. It might be a small, detail but I didn't understand that move....Why would white trade off a developed piece.....for an undeveloped piece. Not only that but it's a developed bishop for an undeveloped knight. Aren't bishops held to a more prestigious standard than knights?? (Which I think is lame as the knight is my favorite chess piece. #trickyknights)

Rather than taking the knight, some central pawns are traded 6. cxd5 Nxd5 (and the engine is still begging me to take the knight on b8.) 7. Bg3 Nc6. Totally fine so far. Developing moves, the pieces awkwardly dancing out towards the center of the board like they're in middle school again.

8. Nc3 which is ok but the engine preferred Nbd2. Eval bar goes from 0.4 to -0.7 is this a big difference? To me, not really but maybe some of those at higher rating levels might disagree.....Ncb4 and oh man....a free what I didn't see. This was due in part by

1) playing fast


2) just not focusing

I guess I though that if I had pushed the e3 pawn, it would be unsupported even though my knight is on c3. I think in my head I thought that he could just take the pawn with his bishop and then he would take my knight on c3 but I didn't stop to think that I have moves in-between his. Looking back on it now. I can see that the piece is hanging and would play e4 here now but oh well.....

This leads me to my next point. At some moment during my games, occasionally I will play a move and then I have what I call board blindness. Somehow I don't see the bishop a few squares away or the knight an L away. Sure, this type of mistake is common with low rated players and can even happen at the elite levels, though very rarely, but it's just shocking sometimes how I miss moves like this and then somehow find mate in 4s. It's nice knowing that I'm not alone though.

9. Bb5+ Nc6 and white still has a better position at +3.1. 10. 0-0, but again, I missed a nice move....Qa4, just bullying blacks knight on c6. Castling isn't an awful move by any means but there was something more appealing.....Be7, 11. Qe2 and the eval bar drops again from +2.8 to +1.4...oops.....0-0 12. Rfd1 cxd4 13.Nxd4 (though the computer here prefers Nxd5 instead) Nxd4 14. exd4 a5. The bar has gone from slightly in my favor to equal now. Which I find I tend to do often. Sometimes I don't realize that I have a good position and miss these small positional (and tactical) opportunities.

15. Bd5 Bxd5 16. Qxd5 h5. Not the first choice for black but I thought it was a fine move. Nothing wrong with it. Engine prefers Rc8 but maybe a minor detail. 17. h3 Nxc3 18. cxd3 Bd6 and here I think to myself that I'm fine. My BFF stockfish agrees as well.

19. Rab1 Bxg3 20. Qxg3 b5...So here its a totally equal position and even I know this. It's kinda funny that I can recognize when a position is equal and when I'm worse.....but not better. Maybe I need a dash of confidence?

I'm curious on who you would prefer playing as at this point. How would you go about playing this position? Well, a few moves down the line I'll show you what NOT to do.

21. Qe3....and I can hear my friends asking me.

"So, what was the purpose of Qe3?"

"Well I had less than a minute left and I had no plan so I made a move."

Other than that I had no concrete plan on what to do in the position but thankfully it wasn't losing.....Qd5 22. Rd2.....stockfish here says that the best move is a4 which I can understand and should have played but I was getting nervous at my low time and then mistakes ensue.......Rac8 and I'm already slightly worse. I could feel my position getting slightly uncomfortable and my opponent was playing faster than before so I started to panic, not to mention getting in some major time pressure. That is partly responsible for these next few series of sadge moves (yes, that's right I said sadge in a blog, what a time to be alive.)

23. Rc1...trying to hold onto my poor little guy....Rc7 24. Rdc2 Rfc8 25. f3 and I'm struggling to find what to do in 43 seconds....b4 26. Qe4 which is where it was pretty much gg. Had I had more time I don't think I would've ended up in this position but here we are and all I can do is try to hold but it's nearly impossible now.....Rxc3 27. Qxd5 exd5 28. Rxc3 Rxc3 29. Rb1 trying to harass his pawns, but to no avail....Rc4 30. Rd1 a5 31. Kc2 a4 32.Ke3 b3 AND I HAVE SOME GLIMMER OF HOPE. 33. axb3 axb3. 33. Rb1 and the hope is gone. With 20 seconds left on the clock (even though there is a 5 second increment) I'm trying not to flag and mistakes are being thrown everywhere. Playing Kd3 was still holding (kinda) but RIP.....Rc3+ 35. Kf4 f6 36. Kg3 g5 37. Rb2 Kg7 38. Kf8 Rc2+ 0-1. I resign as my opponent will soon get a queen and my monarch has no where to go and nothing to do.

Not my best game by any means, but I promised I'd show all 4 games and that's what I'll do. Looking back at this game while I'm writing this and have analyzed this game, there are a few key parts of this game that served as reminders

1) Always look for tactics on the board after each move. What's changed?

2) Manage your time. Don't spend 5 minutes on a simple move that you know isn't losing and that you've played before. Chances are, its fine.

3) When low on time, don't panic and keep the same mindset of finding the best move. Ignore time for a few seconds, what would you play in this position? And then play it, there's an extra 5 seconds there anyway.

I'm excited to show then next few and I have a fun extra 5th game I'm planning to show which is a game I am super proud of. Until the next post, I hope you enjoyed my first game analysis on the blog and hope to see you again soon.

Bye for now!

Christopher Herrera

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