We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.
The Karpovs tasted the unfamiliar sting of defeat this past week in the GSCL, aided in no part by my loss on Board 2. It was an up and down maneuvering game which soon reached the following position....
Here I was Black, and I was spending much of my precious remaining time trying to figure out how to break the paralysis of my pieces - the Queen is needed to defend the Q-side pawns, the rook is currently pegged to the back rank, and White can improve his position before taking any action. So I decided on 36....Ne4!? which proposes to solve all these problems at once. After the game continuation 37. Rxd5 Rxd5 38. Qxd5 Nc3 white then chose 39. Qc5...
At that point, we were down 0-1 in the match and I had the vague impression from about 40 minutes before that we might be losing on board 3. I didn't have time enough to check that assumption, so I reckoned I had to try for a win if possible. I went down the rabbit hole with 39...Qg6?! 40. g3 Qb1+? and lost soon after because of the passed pawn. I only briefly considered what is likely the best line, but could not see a good outcome. With some post-game analysis from Scott Massey, we have...
39. ..... QxQ!
40. PxQ Kf8 (forced)
41. Ne5 Ke8 (again forced to catch the pawn, and better than Ke7 which allows a fork)
42. c6?! (Shredder like g3 and centralization of the White king) Kd8
43. Nxf7+? Kc7
Where Black is even better here, with the potential to quickly grab the White Q-side pawns. This does not represent White's best continuation in an admittedly complex endgame, but the points I should have focused on in my time pressure are: 1) The king has time to stop the passer 2) This will be incredibly easier without queens on the board 3) both White pawns are vulnerable because of the ...Nxa2-c1-b3 maneuver 4) Black's advanced pawns on the Q-side represent his only threats. Based on this it would have been an easier decision to go this endgame. Alas.
Didier Drogba has games like this sometimes