Friday, March 5, 2010

Sliding Doors

The 1998 movie "Sliding Doors" showed two parallel universes in which Gwyneth Paltrow's character could have lived depending on the quantum event of her boarding or not boarding a train on time. From that moment, her love life and career diverged dramatically.

Cliche alert! I've been struggling to find writing inspiration and this post ended up with lots of cliches.

The fifth game of the club qualifier was against an opponent I know who liked to trade queens in the exchange King's Indian. So beforehand, I decided to trot out my old Modern Defense as somewhat of a surprise. Unfortunately, my Modern is so elastic and apparently undisciplined that I ended up tricking myself into a poor opening scheme. My opponent had space, development, king safety, and pawn targets. It wasn't quite a dagger to the heart, but he had a sacrificial line that should have eventually won.

But he hesitated and didn't board the train on time. This gave me time to castle my king to safety and mount a counterattack in the center. An advanced knight needed to retreat to safety, but my opponent chose to lose a tempo with 17.h3 and then the game shifted when I cut off the exits.

It was that moment that he chose to sacrifice. But the die had been cast, the chips had fallen, and I rode off into the sunset. Except for finding a nice queen creeping move (16...Qc6!) I felt like I didn't so much win this game as let my opponent to lose it. I could say that my poor opening play lured him into overreaching, but that would be taking way too much credit.

The evaluation profile shows that my opening sucked, but the late middlegame turned in my favor and then I never looked back.

The brilliant knight sac on move 13 became a blunder on move 18. Timing is everything.

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