Failing to Win a Won Game, Part 1

This game is from Round 1 of my most recent Over the Board (OTB) chess tournament played in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This game illustrates a number of points that I want to make. First, I am not ready to play chess before noon! Second, this is one of too many games in which I outplayed my opponent in the opening and still lost the endgame! This clearly illustrates that no game is over until it is really over. Third, I don’t play well when I am not properly rested or ill. Fourth, sometimes kids will beat experienced players because the kids are healthy while we older adults often have chronic health problems. And fifth, I really do need to slow down when I am winning so that I don’t blow the win again!

I learned this opening back in 1975 from my younger brother, Steve. He got it from his only chess book, MCO 10. What we both liked about this variation was all of the traps that our young opponents often fell into. Back then it was called the Four Knights variation of the Sicilian Defense. Now, it is called some kind of Taimanov Variation of the Sicilian Defense. I will always call it the Four Knights Variation. Another thing that I like is that most of my OTB opponents do not know the main lines so I usually get an opening advantage.

After falling into an opening trap, I failed to find the best move to play on my tenth turn. Even so, I was still winning. My opponent gave me plenty of chances to either win or draw this game and I missed about half of them. Throughout most of this game I was feeling dizzy and light-headed. This could have been caused by not eating enough breakfast or from my sensitivity to rainy weather. Either way, my USCF standard rating has been at or near its floor of 1500 for about ten years now! These one-day tornados have killed my rating!

When I first started playing rated chess back in November of 1974 the typical first time control was 40 moves in 60 minutes. The second time control was sudden death in 30 minutes with any time that was left over from the first time control being carried over to the second one. That gave me an average of a minute and a half per move and I could pace myself accordingly. Now, I tend to rush my moves if I get more than 10 minutes behind my opponent.

Back around 1976 an expert in Texas named David Wheeler asked for some games in which the Four Knights was played. I sent him some that Steve and I played and he used two of them in his booklet. As a result of using our games David sent me a free copy of his booklet. I am planning to do something similar with my games. Any book on the Taimanov Sicilian or good database will cover the main lines of this opening. My intent is to write a book for the club player and feature lines that will be more likely seen in OTB games against non masters.

All of my notes are included in the game below.

Mike Serovey