Thursday, February 21, 2008

Continental Open 1999

The 1999 Continental Open was only the second classical tournament in which I entered following my return to the U.S. from Russia in late 1997. I had played in a few action chess events and done quite poorly; in fact, though you can see my rating listed as 1913 for this event, it actually had dropped all the way down to 1791 due to horrible results in action chess. I am not good at fast time controls, so it was good to get back to classical chess. I had recently played in the National Open in Las Vegas, at classical controls, and I had gone undefeated with four wins and two draws. I had no idea that I would also manage to go undefeated in this tournament!

I am always nervous about playing down against lower rated opponents, and this game illustrates why. All it takes is an unfamiliar opening and a few dubious moves on my part to lead to a nearly lost game. Fortunately, I managed to complicate things just enough that my opponent goes wrong…

[Event "Continental Open"]
[Site "Los Angeles, California"]
[Date "1999.07.22"]
[Round "1"]
[White "King, Anthony"]
[Black "Cross, Ted"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B22"]
[WhiteElo "1738"]
[BlackElo "1913"]

1. e4 c5 2. c3
I have never, even today, gotten used to playing against certain openings, and this is one of them. I play the 2…d5 variation because it seems the most principled to me – after all, the queen can come to d5 after the pawn trade and the white knight cannot attack her because the move 2. c3 has been played. However, I don’t know any of the theory of this opening, so I am always at a loss as to what to do after the third or fourth move!
2…d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 Nf6
It’s interesting to me to see that I chose Nf6 back then, given that more recently I have played the bishop out first and gotten into some bad games.
5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O Nc6 8. h3 Bf5 9. Na3 cxd4 10. Nb5
I can’t comment on the accuracy of the opening play, because I simply don’t know whether what we are doing is normal or not. The computer sees this position as equal.
10…Rc8 11. Nbxd4 Bc5 12. Nxf5 Qxf5 13. Qb3 Bb6 14. Bg5 O-O 15. Rad1 Ne5
Around this point in the game I began to feel antsy because my relatively low rated opponent was never making any mistakes. I didn’t want to start off this tournament, for which I had journeyed all the way to Los Angeles, with an upset. I couldn’t see any way of forcing any advantage, so I decided I needed to try complicating a little to see if I might induce a mistake.
16. Bh4 Qe4?!
I played this clearly dubious move for the reasons stated above. It leads to a clear advantage for my opponent. Much better would have been Qf4, plus it has the potential for my opponent to miss the pin from the bishop on b6 by playing the ‘obvious’ Bg3, only to lose it to Qxg3.
17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Nxe5 Qxe2
Now, Qxe5 was ostensibly the better move, but Qxe2 is, in my opinion, the better try under the current game circumstances, as it has a small trap built into it should my opponent play a move that looks obvious, which he does…
19. Rde1??
For some reason I had a sneaking suspicion that he would fall for this trick. He maintains a large advantage if he plays 19. Nd7 Rfd8 20. Nxf6+ Kg7 21. Nd7.
I win a full rook, so the rest is just making sure I don’t blow it. I play a bit too conservatively, but that is ok under the circumstances.
20. Rxf2 Qxe1+ 21. Rf1 Qxe5 22. Qxb7 Qe3+ 23. Kh1 Rb8 24. Qe7 Rxb2 25. Qxf6 Rb5 26. Rf4 Qe1+ 27. Rf1 Qg3 0-1

My next opponent was the number 2 seed in the Under 2000 section in which I played, so I was expecting a tough game. He arrived late, played quickly, and didn’t quite seem like the higher rated opponent that I was expecting.

[Event "Continental Open"]
[Site "Los Angeles, California"]
[Date "1999.07.23"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Cross, Ted"]
[Black "Giles, Patrick"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B80"]
[WhiteElo "1913"]
[BlackElo "1986"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6
I love this kind of open Sicilian. It leads to the kind of tactics that fit my style. I play this line differently now; back then I was just trying to get into the main lines of the Najdorf Sicilian, but my opponent seemed intent on not playing a6 no matter what. That is what ultimately destroyed him in this game.
6. Bg5 Be7 7. f4 Bd7 8. Qf3 Nc6 9. O-O-O Rc8?
As I said, his insistence on not playing a6 really hurts him. Now he cannot defend the pawn on d6.
10. Ndb5! Qa5 11. Nxd6+ Bxd6 12. Rxd6 Nb4
My opponent tries to create counterplay against my king.
13. Bxf6
As is often the case, once one side has an advantage it is good to trade off material.
13…gxf6 14. a3 Rxc3
The theme of sacrificing a rook for the knight on c3 is very common in the Sicilian Defense, and here it is clearly the best chance for black to try to save the game.
15. bxc3 Qxa3+ 16. Kd2 Ke7?
This move increases my advantage. Black needed to try Na2, when the queen would both threaten the rook on d6 and a check on c1. I still would maintain the advantage after either Qd3 or e5.
17. Rxd7+!
Returning the rook, but in exchange I am exposing his king to direct attack shortly.
17…Kxd7 18. cxb4 Qxb4+ 19. Qc3 Qxe4 20. Bb5+ Kd6 21. Rd1!
I was very proud of this move! It is clever because it allows black to take either of the ‘free’ pawns on f4 or g2 while checking my king, yet when my king moves it reveals the attack of the rook on black’s king instead.
21…Qxf4+ 22. Ke2+
It is checkmate in two now.
22…Ke7 23. Qc5+ 1-0

[Event "Continental Open"]
[Site "Los Angeles, California"]
[Date "1999.07.23"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Cross, Ted"]
[Black "Tjokrosurjo, Omega"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B17"]
[WhiteElo "1913"]
[BlackElo "1941"]

1. e4 c6
I have tended to have good results against the Caro-Kann Defense, so I am always happy to see it.
2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7
This variation was a favorite of Karpov, and I like to play against it.
5. Bc4 Ngf6 6. Ng5 e6 7. Qe2 Nb6 8. Bd3 c5 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. N1f3 Nbd7?
I am not sure why he made this mistake. A person who plays this line should know better. I suppose he knew my knight was coming to e5 and wanted to be proactive about it.
11. O-O!?
Yep, I chickened out here. I was itching to play the correct move Nxf7!, but I couldn’t quite see deeply enough to be certain I was ok. I should have gone for it - 11. Nxf7! Kxf7 12. Ng5+ Ke8 13. Nxe6 Qa5+ 14. Bd2 Bb4 15. Bxb4 Qxb4+ 16. c3 Qa5 17. Bc4 gives me a winning edge, though what I played still leaves me with a better game.
11...h6 12. Ne4 O-O 13. Nxc5 Nxc5 14. Rd1 Nxd3 15. Rxd3 Bd7 16. Ne5 Qe7 17. Nxd7 Nxd7 18. Bf4
I like to develop while making threats at the same time. The threat may be obvious – Bd6 – but it provokes his mistaken next move.
Playing 18…Rfd8 is better, though white still maintains an edge. Black’s move allows me to win a pawn.
19. Bxh6! Qe6
If he takes my bishop then my queen comes to g4 with a double attack against his king and the knight on d7.
20. Rad1
I had to play carefully to make sure I didn’t mess things up. This is the right move, but I had to see that I could save the bishop after he plays his next move.
20…Nc5 21. Rd6!
This is the trick that saves the bishop, while bringing all of my pieces into active positions. If I had retreated the bishop on move 20 then my advantage would have been much less. Being up only one pawn means that it is easy to blow it; I needed to play carefully and try to find a way to consolidate my advantage.
21…Qf5 22. Bc1 Ne6 23. R1d5 Nd4!
He plays a fine move, since my planned capture of the e5 pawn fails badly to 24. Qe5?? Rfe8! and black wins.
24. Qd1
This is the right move, though I was unhappy to be giving him back the extra pawn I had won. Still, I have a decent positional advantage due to better placement of my pieces; the trick is to find a way to make it pay off.
24…Nxc2 25. g4!?
This is my rather radical solution, though it is not bad.
25…Qe4 26. f3 Qe1+ 27. Qxe1 Nxe1 28. Kf2 Rfc8 29. Bd2 Nc2 30. Rxe5 Rc7 31. Bc3
Having once again won a pawn, I was now trying to find a way to trap the knight.
31…Na3 32. Rg5 Nc4?
Although he was lost anyway, this just gives me another pawn. He should have played g6.
33. Rxg7+ Kf8 34. Rh6 Rac8 35. Bf6
Threatening checkmate on h8, this allows me to win a third pawn.
35…Ke8 36. Rh8+ Kd7 37. Rxf7+ Ke6 38. Rxc7 Rxc7 39. Bc3 Nxb2
At first I was dismayed that I had let him win a pawn back due to the threat of the rook coming to c2, but then I found a funny way to win the knight without allowing him to fork my king and bishop. It made a little staircase pattern that I found aesthetically pleasing.
40. Rh6+! Kd5 41. Rh5+ Ke6 42. Re5+ Kd6 43. Bxb2 1-0
Now I could safely take the knight, because after Rc2+ I can interpose my rook on e2 to save my bishop.

Wow! I never expected to start 3-0 in this event. I was very happy and hoped I could maintain my good play.

[Event "Continental Open"]
[Site "Los Angeles, California"]
[Date "1999.07.24"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Scott, Gene"]
[Black "Cross, Ted"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D03"]
[WhiteElo "1969"]
[BlackElo "1913"]

1. d4
I had a feeling my string of wins could not continue, and seeing my opponent’s first move deepened this feeling. Nothing vexes me more than playing against 1. d4. I keep changing defenses, trying different things, hoping to encounter something that feels right to me, but I never find it. For years I had been meeting this move with 1…f5, the Dutch Defense, but my results were less than decent, so now I was dabbling with the Gruenfeld Defense. I liked it ok, but it had the major drawback that opponents could always force me into a King’s Indian Defense if they wanted, and I did not like the KID.
1…Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c3
Ok, well this is a strange treatment of this opening. I doubt it is a good move; probably it grants black equality immediately. It’s very timid, and this boosted my confidence a bit.
3…Bg7 4. Bg5 O-O 5. Nbd2 d5 6. e3 b6
In these kinds of queen pawn positions black always has trouble figuring out exactly what to do with the queen’s bishop. Bring it outside of the pawn chain before playing e6? Leave it on the queenside? I just guessed and decided to leave it on the queenside.
7. b4 c5 8. Be2 cxd4
I always have a tendency to break the tension too quickly in positions. I think it is better to leave it there and play Na6 and then Nc7.
9. cxd4 Na6 10. Qb3 Qd6?
My move gives white an advantage once he protects the pawn on b4. His bishop can harass my queen by coming to f4.
11. a3
Even better is 11. O-O, due to a trick. I cannot take the pawn on b4 with Qb4 or I will lose a piece to Bxa6!
11…Nc7 12. Bf4 Qd8 13. h3 Ne6 14. Be5 Bb7 15. O-O Rc8 16. Rfc1 Ne4 17. Bxg7 Nxd2 18. Nxd2 Nxg7 19. Qa4 Rxc1+ 20. Rxc1 Qb8
My position is teetering on the edge and I am playing just to hold on the best I can.
21. Qd7 Rc8
I decided to give up a pawn in an attempt to gain more activity for my pieces.
22. Rxc8+ Qxc8 23. Qxe7 Nf5 24. Qe5 Qc2 25. Nf1 Bc6?!
This is not a good move, but I was hoping to keep the bishop on the board to generate play. White can simply play b5 now and be winning easily. Frankly though, the alternative was not so good – 25…Qxe2 26. Qb8+ Kg7 27. Qxb7 and white has a won endgame.
26. Ba6?!
White misses the easiest win with 26. b5
26...Qa4 27. b5 Bxb5 28. Bxb5 Qxb5 29. Qb8+ Kg7 30. Qxa7 Nd6 31. Qe7 Nc4
Things have become much more difficult for white, as his a pawn is vulnerable.
32. Qb4 Qa5 33. Qxa5 bxa5 34. a4 Nb6?
A very bad move on my part. Just when equality was within my grasp I allow his knight to come free, and white now maintains an edge.
35. Nd2 Nxa4 36. Nb3 Nb6 37. Nxa5 h5
I suppose a grandmaster might win this endgame, but I felt fairly confident that I would not lose it.
38. Kf1 Kf6 39. Ke2 Ke6 40. Kd3 g5 41. e4 dxe4+ 42. Kxe4 f5+ 43. Kd3 Nd5 44. g3 h4 45. Nc4?
White makes a terrible mistake, going from a slight advantage to a perhaps losing game in one move.
45…g4 46. Nd2 hxg3?
I failed to see the right move here - 46... gxh3 47. Nf3 hxg3 48. fxg3 and I am the only one with winning chances. With the move I chose it is now just a draw.
47. hxg4 g2 48. gxf5+ Kxf5 49. Nf3 Kg4 50. Ng1 Nf4+ 51. Ke3 Kf5 52. Kf3 Ne6 53. d5 Nf4 54. d6 Nd3 55. Kxg2 Ke6 56. f3 Ne1+ 1/2-1/2

So, things were still not bad. I had three and a half points from four, which put me in a small group near the first place spot. I had survived as black against my dreaded 1. d4 opening. Next I had to face a Russian player who had looked pretty invincible through the first rounds. I had to be black again too, so I again felt not so confident. At least he didn’t play 1. d4 against me!

[Event "Continental Open"]
[Site "Los Angeles, California"]
[Date "1999.07.24"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Reznikov, Gennady"]
[Black "Cross, Ted"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B21"]
[WhiteElo "1962"]
[BlackElo "1913"]

1. e4 c5 2. f4
While I enjoy playing the Sicilian with either color, playing against the Grand Prix attack (2. f4) always makes me nervous. I always feel that white might just blow me off the board. Fortunately I somehow came out of the opening with an advantage this time.
2…Nc6 3. Nf3 d6 4. Be2 e6 5. d3 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 Nge7 8. Be3 O-O 9. h3 b6 10. Nh2 d5 11. Qc2 d4 12. Bd2 dxc3 13. Bxc3
I am not an expert on this opening, so I am not sure exactly how it happened, but by this point I have a distinct edge due to my control of the d4 square and white’s porous kingside.
13...Nd4 14. Qd1 Nec6
White has no pawns to dislodge my knights, so the d4 square becomes a fortress for my pieces that is a thorn in white’s side. I am amazed I failed to win this position.
15. Nf3 Nxe2+?!
Better is 15...Ba6 as it builds pressure against white’s position while developing.
16. Qxe2 Nd4 17. Nxd4 Bxd4+ 18. Kh1 Ba6 19. Rf3
White defends tenaciously and at this point I begin to have trouble finding a plan.
19…Rc8 20. Bxd4 Qxd4 21. Nc3 Rfd8 22. Rd1 b5 23. e5 Bb7?!
Why did I change my mind? I have no idea. I obviously played 22…b5 with the intention of continuing b4, and that is the right move here - 23... b4 24. Ne4 c4! and black has a big edge again. After my move the position is equal.
24. Rf2 a6 25. Qf1?!
White’s inaccurate plan has once again allowed b4 to be a threat, but I didn’t play it for some reason.
This is not a bad move, but 25…b4 was better, allowing my queenside to come alive after 25…b4 26. Nb1 Bc6 (Also interesting is Be4) 27. a3 a5 28. Rfd2 g5!, exploiting the weakness of the d3 and e5 pawns and cramping white’s queenside.
26. Rfd2 Rcd8 27. Kh2 Bc6 28. Ne2 Qe3 29. Qg1 Qxg1+ 30. Kxg1 Be4 31. d4 c4 32. a3 Bd3 33. Kf2 Kf8 34. Ke3 Bxe2 35. Rxe2 Rd5 36. Ke4 h5 37. g4 hxg4 38. hxg4 Ke7 39. Rh2 a5 40. Rh3 a4 41. Rd2 R5d7 42. Rf3 Rd5
I had to finally admit that my advantage was gone and I just needed to seal up a draw.
43. f5 gxf5+ 44. gxf5 f6!
I needed to play very accurately here or white could even gain the advantage.
45. exf6+ Kxf6 46. fxe6+ Kxe6 47. Rg3 Re5+!
A clever little trick to gain a tiny edge, but not enough to win.
48. Kf3 Rf8+ 49. Kg2 Ref5 50. Rg7 Kf6 51. Rg4 Rd8 52. Kg3 Re8 53. Rf4 Re3+ 54. Kg4 Rxf4+ 55. Kxf4 Rb3 56. d5 c3 57. bxc3 Rxc3 58. d6 Rc8 59. d7 Rd8 60. Rd5 Ke6 61. Rxb5 Rxd7 62. Rb4 Ra7 63. Ke4 Ra5 64. Rb8 Ra7 65. Rc8 Rh7 1/2-1/2

Well, drawing two in a row after three straight wins is not the way to win a tournament. It is better than losing, of course, but each half point given up drops me a little bit behind the leaders, making my margin of error that much smaller. I felt good that I had not lost a game in five rounds, but I wanted to win again!

[Event "Continental Open"]
[Site "Los Angeles, California"]
[Date "1999.07.25"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Cross, Ted"]
[Black "Dima, Vlad"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B16"]
[WhiteElo "1913"]
[BlackElo "1943"]

1. e4 c6
Ah, I was again happy to see the Caro-Kann.
2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ gxf6 6. c3 Bf5 7. Nf3 Qc7 8. g3 Nd7 9. Bg2 e5!?
This was the first new move for me and it threw me for a loop.
10. O-O
I play too cautiously, allowing equality. Better was Be3.
10…Be7 11. Re1 O-O-O 12. b4
I am no expert on this variation; I tend to just throw my queenside pawns at black’s king, hoping to make my white squared bishop stronger on his diagonal.
12…h5 13. Qa4 Kb8 14. dxe5 fxe5 15. Nxe5
I was extremely nervous about taking this pawn, thinking it might be dangerous for me, and I really didn’t want to lose at this point in the tournament, having done so well so far. It turns out this is the right move, though black has enough activity that it is about equal here.
The computer thinks this is bad, but the ‘correct’ line doesn’t look much better - 15…Nxe5 16. Rxe5 Qxe5 17. Bf4 Qxf4 18. gxf4 Rhg8 19. Kh1 and white is practically won. So, Nb6 may be a better practical move for black.
16. Qb3?!
Well, my move doesn’t throw away my advantage entirely, but white was winning after 16. Qa5! Be6 17. c4 Nd7 18. Qxc7+ Kxc7 19. Nxf7 Bxf7 20. Rxe7
16...Be6 17. Qc2 Bd6 18. Bf4
For the next few moves I felt I was walking a razor’s edge, having to make each move just right or black would get the advantage.
18... h4 19. a4 hxg3 20. fxg3 Rh5 21. Rad1!
This was the first really hard move for me to find. I felt I might be in trouble here until I figured out this move. A long sequence of exchanges follows that leaves me with a large advantage.
21…Bd5 22. a5 Bxe5 23. Bxe5 Rxe5 24. Rxe5 Qxe5 25. axb6 Qe3+ 26. Qf2 Qxc3 27. bxa7+ Ka8 28. Bxd5 cxd5 29. Qd4?!
Here I started to worry about maintaining the advantage I knew I had, so I played too cautiously. I should have seen 29. b5! with the plan of advancing the pawn to b6 and hemming in the black king for good.
29...Qxd4+ 30. Rxd4 Kxa7 31. Kf2 Kb6 32. Ke3 Re8+ 33. Kd3 Kc6 34. Rf4 b6?
I can’t understand what my opponent was thinking here. It seems obvious that Re7 needed to be played.
35. Rxf7 Re1 36. Rf4 Rd1+ 37. Kc2 Rg1 38. Rg4??
This move is inexplicable to me. I can only say that I simply did not see the obvious threat of Rg2+ winning the h pawn. I should have played the rook to f2 and consolidated to a won endgame. Now I have to fight for a draw. This was very disheartening, as I had been looking forward to a win for quite a few moves, knowing this would allow me a chance to fight for first place in the tournament. A draw would remove that chance completely.
38...Rg2+ 39. Kc3 Rxh2 40. Rd4?
Now feeling terrible, I pass up my last chance to have any sort of advantage - 40. Rg6+ Kb5 41. Rd6 Rh5 42. Kd4 Rh8 43. Rg6 and white has some slim chances to pull off a win still. Instead I had to settle down and fight hard for a draw.
40...Kd6 41. Rh4 Rg2 42. Rh6+ Ke5 43. Rxb6 Rxg3+ 44. Kd2 Kd4 45. Re6 Rb3 46. Rh6 Rb2+ 47. Kc1 Rg2 48. b5 Kc5 49. b6 Rg7 50. Kd2 d4 51. Kd3 Rg3+ 52. Kd2 Rb3 53. Kc2 Rxb6 1/2-1/2

It is funny how things work. If someone had told me before the tournament that after six rounds I would be undefeated with four and a half points, I would have been delighted. Instead, having glimpsed the possibility of fighting for first place and having it dashed by one terrible mistake, I felt horrible. I felt I had blown everything.

I needed to try to overcome this feeling, because the last round was still a significant money game, at least by chess standards. If I won I would tie for a pretty high place and win over $500.

[Event "Continental Open"]
[Site "Los Angeles, California"]
[Date "1999.07.25"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Zulueta, Jose"]
[Black "Cross, Ted"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A48"]
[WhiteElo "1950"]
[BlackElo "1913"]

1. d4
As you know from what I have written previously, this was not an auspicious start for me already.
1…Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bf4 Bg7 4. e3 O-O 5. h3 d5 6. Be2 c5 7. c3 b6 8. O-O Ba6 9. Bxa6 Nxa6 10. Qe2 Nb8 11. Nbd2 Nc6 12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. Bxe5 Nd7 14. Bh2 e5
There hasn’t been much to say about the opening so far. It reminded me a bit of the fourth round game I played, though it went a bit differently. I felt no advantage; I was just trying to fight to not lose the game at this point. I knew I was playing a strong player, so I didn’t really dream of actually winning the game.
15. Nf3?!
He makes a tiny error here, but I fail to take advantage of it.
I should have played 15... e4, when things are about equal, and if anyone can claim any advantage it is me.
16. Qa6 e4 17. Nd2 f5 18. Qb7 Qe6 19. Qc7 Bh6 20. Qd6 Rf6 21. Qxe6+ Rxe6 22. Rfe1 a5
I felt the game was kind of drawish, though I have at least earned a tiny advantage.
23. a4 cxd4 24. cxd4 Rc8 25. Rac1 Rec6 26. Nb3?!
But now things have gone a bit wrong for white, and black has a nice position.
I allow some of my advantage to slip away. Better was 26…Rc4 27. Kf1 Kf7 28. Ke2 Bf8 with a nagging edge for black.
27. Rxc6 Rxc6 28. Rc1 Rxc1+ 29. Nxc1 Bf8?
It is hard to see why, but the computer rates this as a significant mistake, after which the edge passes from black to white. Much better was 29…Kf7 30. Ne2 Ke6 with equality.
30. Bc7?
The computer considers this to be a mistake also, though it looks pretty decent to me. It likes knight to e2 and then c3 much better.
30…Kf7 31. Ne2 Ke6 32. h4 h6 33. hxg5 hxg5 34. Nc3 Bd6 35. Bd8 g4 36. Nb5 g3 37. Bc7 gxf2+ 38. Kxf2 Bxc7 39. Nxc7+ Kd6 40. Nb5+ Kc6 41. Kg3 Nf6 42. Kf4 Ng4
During the game over the last long sequence of moves I had felt that I had gone wrong and white might be winning, but examining all these moves with a computer, it says that I have played quite well and maintained either equality or a tiny edge throughout.
43. g3 Kd7 44. Kxf5?
I guess he grew frustrated at the thought of a draw here, because he makes a mistake that gives me a better endgame.
44…Nxe3+ 45. Kf4 Nc4 46. b3 Nd2 47. Ke3 Nxb3 48. Nc3 Ke6 49. g4 Na1
At the time I thought this was the right move (though moving a knight to the corner rarely is!), but the computer doesn’t like it. It thinks white could have equality with Kd2 here. Instead white blunders badly and I am winning.
50. Nxe4?? Nc2+
Why didn’t I take his knight? Because I was concerned it just led to a draw. It is hard to calculate that my king can actually stop both of his widespread passed pawns – 50…dxe4 51. Kxe4 Nc2 52. Kd3 Na3 53. Kc3 b5! 54. axb5 Nxb5+ 55. Kc4 a4 56. Kb4 a3 57. Kb3 Kd5 58. g5 Ke6 and black’s king actually does catch both pawns. But, try seeing that over the board! I felt I had better chances with my move.
51. Kd2 Nxd4 52. Ng5+ Ke5 53. Nh3 Nb3+ 54. Kc3 Nc5 55. g5 Nxa4+ 56. Kc2 Kf5 57. g6 Kxg6 58. Nf4+ Kf5 59. Nxd5 Ke4 60. Nc7 Kd4
I was not able to record the rest of the moves, due to time pressure for both players, though I had more time than white did. I had to play very carefully here as it could easily turn into a draw. I even started along the wrong plan once only to realize that it led to a draw, so I was forced to backtrack and my opponent tried to claim a draw since I was repeating moves. I had to explain to the arbiter that I had realized that the moves I intended led to a draw, so I was forced to seek a different path. He let the game continue and I won shortly after that.

What a good feeling it was to finally break out of the drawing rut I was in and finish well! I completed my second straight classical tournament without a loss; I won over $500; and I gained back all the rating points I had lost at action chess.

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